It sounds like your boyfriend is new at this so I'll go out on a limb and assume that he has not researched what is needed to get through the Panama Canal. It's more than just waiting your turn queued up in the water.
Boats must be pre-registered, it may take a week or two to get through (also the reason for a passport), he'll need to hire line handlers if he's singlehanding and depending on the size of his boat it will probably cost around $800 to $1000 to get through. It's a whole process.
Have him read this site (and follow the links): http://www.noonsite.com/Countries/Pa...rc=Formalities
Good luck to him.