Most pleasure craft seem to hire an agent to arrange their transit of the Panama Canal at a cost anywhere between $260 and $300 but we learned from Azimuth, a boat that did it sans agent that it's really no big deal to do it yourself.
They were kind enough to put all they had learned in a couple of emails for us and since we weren't pressed for time we began the process ourselves.
The first step was to go to the Admeasures Office in Colon with our boat registration and a few other papers to make an appointment to have the boat measured. We spent hours following incorrect directions from many, very helpful Panamanians working in that immediate area. Once we finally found the office in an unmarked building behind a big fence with locked gates at the end of the pier in the Panama Ports Company's fenced in, guarded cargo area, Laura helped us. In perfect English it took 5 minutes and we were told to be at The Flats (an anchorage behind the breakwater, next to the channel leading to the canal) in the morning in two days' time.
At The Flats the Admeasurer jumped bravely from the pilot boat (in the choppy water) to our heaving deck. She was also very pleasant with good English and completed her task in good time but not before tossing her cookies into a bowl due to the boat's movement. With the dinghy hoisted at the stern we came in at 49.29 feet, meaning the lowest possible transit fee (at 50 feet the price jumps).
About a week later we bussed into Colon to pay our transit fee and deposit in cash at the specified bank and a few days later René phoned the scheduling office to set a date. One more phone call and the rental, delivery and pick up of our lines and 10 tires was arranged. Now all we have to do is find 3 line handlers and be at The Flats at the arranged time and day to pick up our advisor and transit the Panama Canal!