Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Don't Sit and Wait in Panama, Get Out and Enjoy!

The beautiful country of Panama is sadly a frustrating place for many cruisers. Everyone seems to be waiting, waiting, waiting, for services and for parts that are difficult if not impossible to find locally. Marine businesses in Panama generally don’t cater well to the sailing community.

Two toes sloth

We were fortunate to locate a few individuals who understand the magnitude of the passages undertaken by cruisers from Panama across the Pacific, and are trying to improve the situation. During the cruising season they are very busy. The cruisers net on VHF channel 74 at 9:00AM local time is a good place to find out about them.

The sail loft on Taboga

Haul out facilities are extremely limited. We were lucky and have to thank the Flamenco Marina for scheduling our haul out for propellar repairs very quickly. One drawback is that you cannot stay onboard while your boat is on the hard. Our friends on Inspiration Lady and Jackster came to our rescue to accommodate us. Their generosity is greatly appreciated - the Bristol Rose crew numbered 5 people!

Jackie and Gary, Inspiration Lady

Jacqui and David, Jackster

Parts can be ordered through a local agent but they must be shipped from the USA. The wait is only part of the problem.Import duties and shipping costs are shocking. Then try to get the Fed Ex agent to deliver - that’s another story. Panama is one of those places where you can easily blow your annual cruising budget without really trying!

So if you have any funds left, you must leave your frustrations behind and get out and about to see more of this stunning country.

Nice hat John, Eowyn

The islands of Kuna Yala (the San Blas Islands) on the Caribbean side could be models for a classic tropical island paradise yet they are totally unique. We’ve already covered them in a couple of posts.

Elliot collected a t-shirt full of hermit crabs

Las Perlas (the Pearl Islands) on the Pacific side and an easy day’s sail away are perfect for a calming break from the pace of Panama City. Quiet anchorages, long sandy beaches, the interesting history and great fishing are what we’ll remember most about these islands. Owen’s Primitive Skills blog says a lot more about the islands.

Taboga, “Island of Flowers” lies only an hour’s leisurely sail from Flamenco Marina. Francisco Pizarro had a base here during Spanish rule and there is also evidence of pre-Columbian inhabitants. Today’s inhabitants are quietly reserved yet welcoming. We fell in love with Taboga and hope to return one day.


The Panama Canal with the Puente del Centenario Bridge (two white arches) in the background, right. The Bridge of the Americas joins North and Central America and is out of view to the left of the image.

The Panama Canal is a tourist attraction in itself. Cruisers who are not planning to transit in their own boats from the Caribbean side to the Pacific side will sometimes come aboard as line handlers for the experience.

If you have had experience in Panama with exceptional boat services or repairs, please leave a comment to pass on the good word.

1 comment:

  1. Now how did you post all those nice pics from the middle of the ocean?