Primer on the economics of yachts vs commercial ships in the Panama Canal:
- 1 @ 45 ft yacht = US$600 revenue for the Canal Authority
- 1 @ Panamax container ship = US$125,000 +/-
Now guess who gets to go first, second, third and.....etc.
Also, yachts transit with "advisors". Advisors are usually Canal Authority tug captains or mates, dredge captains, etc. When they're working their "day jobs" they can't be escorting yachts through. Only when the "advisors" aren't needed for their primary duties are they assigned to help small boats make their transits.
In short, they fit yachts in when they can. From the perspective of a voyaging sailor, it sucks. From the perspective of the Canal Authority, it makes sense.
An aside: The bit about it taking 30 extra minutes to raft up yachts is nonsense -- the rafts are made up underway before entering the first Gatun lock and they stay together until exiting the last lock. If the advisor is doing his job there is no delay in the operation of the lock.
Last edited by billyruffn; 05-15-2008 at 12:43 AM.