To the editor: In a recent issue there was a reference in Chartroom Chatter to fees paid by commercial vessels to use the Panama Canal (Panama Canal chief sees future for sailboats Issue 127, Jan./Feb. 2003). I was somewhat surprised to read that the current Panama Canal transit fees for ships are about $10,000. This is according to Bill Clark, operator of a freight shipment consulting business. This would be true only for a very small freighter. For ships that are of the so-called panamax size (maximum beam 106 feet to pass the 110-foot-wide locks), the fee is roughly $100,000 to transit the Canal.
Current toll rates are on the Panama Canal website: www.pancanal.com. Look under Maritime Operations/Marine Tariff/Tolls. At the same site, under Notices to Shipping/Notice 11-2003, is interesting information pertaining to the operation of small craft in the canal.
Don Dykstra owns a tanker company in Houston and is an avid sailor.