After an idyllic stay in the beautiful San Blas Islands, the fleet have begun to arrive at Shelter Bay to start their preparations prior to the transits through the Panama Canal. There is always an air of great excitement along with a little apprehension as for many it is a life long dream to take their own boat through the Canal.
World Cruising Club, and the Rally Control Team already in location, manage all the administration for both boats and crew, firstly ensuring all the fleet are correctly checked into Immigration and Customs. Full briefings on what to expect when going through the Canal along with inspections and admeasurements take place prior to each transit so it a busy few days for everyone.
This year the fleet have been granted two special transits through the Canal which means twelve of the fleet will travel together through a private lock. The first transit is due to take place on Sunday 29 January with the second half of the fleet going through on Wednesday 1 February. Any boats over 65ft are required to go though the lock with a specialised Pilot. There are two boat in the Rally this time who will transit between the special locks so they will experience a private escort.
Located on the Caribbean side of the Canal, Shelter Bay Marina are excited to welcome all the participants which is the fleet’s base prior to the transits. With excellent maintenance and haul out services the boat yard is certainly expected to be at full stretch working on several boat in the fleet requiring new antifoul and fixing various breakages experienced along the way. Additionally, the Marina staff and very experienced and are checking in each boat providing them with ample mooring space for their stay with water and electricity being readily available to all the fleet.
Shelter Bay also have a great restaurant and bar, offering specials events each night during the World ARC’s stay. Participants can look forward to happy hour cocktails, BBQ menus and ‘all you can eat’ rib evenings. Further services here include a great laundry, small convenience store, daily organised transport to local supermarkets and a refreshing swimming pool to relax in and by after all the jolly boat jobs have been worked on.
We welcome World ARC 2023-24 to Panama, the excitement is certainly building!