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By No owner — last modified Oct 20, 2012 08:31 PM

 Panama - Profile

Facts

  • For details on the Canal transit see here.
  • The country is dominated by the Panama Canal and the surrounding Panama Canal Area, which were incorporated fully into Panama on 31 December 1999.
  • Balboa on the Pacific and Cristobal in the Caribbean are the two main ports and gateways to the canal. The port of Cristobal incorporates the town of Colon.
  • The main cruising attractions in Panama are the 365 San Blas islands off the Caribbean coast, a popular destination for yachts. A cruising permit is required to visit these islands, but the local Panamanian officials usually treat yachts arriving from the east on their way to the mainland with a certain degree of tolerance. See the excellent San Blas Islands cruising report.
  • On the Pacific side, the Las Perlas islands are another unspoilt cruising ground popular with boats en route to the Galapagos and South Pacific islands. Like in other isolated parts of the world, sailors are advised to only stop in a remote anchorage in the company of another boat.
  • Although the Balboa Yacht Club received a new concession from the Panama Canal Commission and built a new clubhouse, the buildings of the Panama Yacht Club at Colon were demolished.
  • From the 1st February 2010 all persons or companies offering maritime services to ships or yachts must be in possession of an "Operation Licence". See Noonsite Report. Cruisers are advised to check that anyone offering them such services has a valid licence, but should be aware that this provides no guarantee of the quality of the service being offered.
  • Getting work done: Yachts coming from the Caribbean planning to spend longer in Panama to underake re-fit work should research carefully options available to them before arriving (and ideally before leaving the rich sources of chandlery and services in the Eastern Caribbean). It is not easy to find parts or skilled workers in Colon and Panama; some are located in Portabello or Panamarina and there are various liveaboards in Shelter Bay Marina who have diesel and mechanical skills. It is better to get serious work done in Trinidad/Martinique/St. Martin, prior to coming to Panama.
  • Note: Most brands of lifefraft cannot be serviced in Panama. Be sure to get this organised beforehand.
  • Provisioning: Good choice of large supermarkets. Excellent choice and value for money. If crossing the Pacific from here, this is the last good provisioning option. Be sure to stock up on non-perishables and alcohol.
  • Cruisers have reported half sunk logs on the passage from Porvenir to Portobelo. Care should be taken around the Panama coastline for such hazards.

SOURCES OF PANAMA INFORMATION
There are two Yahoo e-mail groups on the Internet specifically designed for cruisers to share information. Both groups have cruisers worldwide.

Cruisers Network Online - Caribbean Side of Panama
Cruisers Network Online’s website is http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Cruisers_Network_Online/
To subscribe to Cruisers Network Online, email Cruisers_Network_Online-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Southbound Group - Pacific Side of Panama
The Southbound Group’s website is http://groups.yahoo.com/group/southbound_group/
To subscribe to The Southbound Group, email Southbound_group-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

Karsten Staffeldt
Contact in Panama for Danish Ocean Cruising Association (DOCA), Swedish Oceanseglingsklubben (OSK), Swedish Jorden Runt Seglar Klubben (JRSK) and Ocean Cruising Club. Can assist yachts with information and advice covering cruising Panama, Panama Canal transits, facilities etc. Note: Karsten does this as a hobby.

Security

Several serious robberies/attacks that were reported last year at Punta Chame (20 nm SW of the Balboa anchorage), Bocas del Toro and Colon and reports of stolen dinghies in Las Perlas, highlight the security situation in Panama. Along with other countries in this area, Panama is experiencing an increase in crime, partly relating to the drug trade, which is also affecting maritime activities. See security reports adjacent for further details.

Nowhere in Panama should yachts anchor at night in remote areas without being accompanied by other yachts.

In March 2014 a yacht anchored in an isolated area to the south of Taboga Island, Balboa, was boarded by armed pirates. See report here.

Unfortunately conditions in Colon have not improved in the last 10 years. Colon remains a risky place for tourists; snatch-and-run as well as hold-ups are all too common, even in daylight. One should avoid walking anywhere outside of the port and all shopping should be done by taxi.

The anchorage at Club Nautico, Colon, is not patrolled by the Panama Canal Police boats and a boat was boarded and robbed at night there in March 2012. This is not a recommended anchorage.

Cruisers report that the police in Panama City are quite adamant that you do NOT carry your original passport, but only a copy while travelling around within the City. The police are seriously concerned about theft.

Free Cruising Guides have completed the Caribbean Security Index (CSI) review of 2013 and updated the country ratings. The latest update of the CSI contains new information that may be important to you to “route around crime.”
See this report athttp://www.noonsite.com/General/Piracy/caribbean-crime-caribbean-security-index-csi-review-of-2013

The Caribbean Safety and Security Net (safetyandsecuritynet@gmail.com) gather information by anchorage or by island, so sailors can plan their cruising in the Caribbean with an eye to appropriate behaviour and precautions wherever they decide to go. Should you have information about a security incident, as well as contacting Noonsite please also forward details to the Caribbean Safety and Security Net, as theirs is the most comprehensive source of Caribbean security incidents against sailors on the net. Please be sure to include boat name, date of incident and anchorage/port where the incident took place.

Last updated February 2014.

Weather

The climate is hot and very humid, although cooled by the prevailing easterly winds. The dry season is January to April, and rain can be heavy in October and November. Panama is not affected by hurricanes.

Panama Weather Forecast

Sailing Advisory Panama to Galapagos

For links to free global weather information, forecast services and extreme weather information see the Noonsite Weather Page.

Caribbean Weather Centre
Chris Parker
Tel:1-284-494-7559 Fax:1-284-494-5358
SSB Weather Nets (with new webcast service free until Jan 2011) - see website for info. of schedules, Daily Email Forecast, Weather Routing. Free synopsis and weather info.

Main Ports

Share |
ppappas
ppappas says:
Sep 19, 2013 06:06 PM

Roy Bravo: agent
Hi Would like to highly recommend Roy Bravo. He not only did an excellent job arranging my clearance but also in my canal transit. Roy is also a great resource for any needs you might have for service or repairs; he is well connected only recommends "the best of breed". Roy is a great person, very professional, very respectful, and beyond reproach. You will not be disappointed. Peter Pappas "Callisto" Amel sm2000 #369

brucegoforth
brucegoforth says:
Nov 02, 2013 04:41 PM

Panama City Cruisers Connection, Deb Meh 507-6153-2089

Provides reasonably price Bed and Breakfast in Bella Vista, transport throughout the country including personal taxi service in Panama City. Will purchase food and beverages by order and deliver. Locate and purchase parts and provide guidance on where to get boat work done.
All excellent services at reasonable rates.

gentlerain
gentlerain says:
Jan 11, 2014 04:30 PM

I have just had a sail repaired in Portobelo bu Casa Vela which is located on the water front to the right of town, looking fro. the water. Good service and the repare well doene, Catherine s/v Gentle Rain II

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Jan 13, 2014 03:11 PM

PLEASE POST COMMENTS RELATING TO A PARTICULAR PORT UNDER THAT PORT, NOT ON THIS GENERAL PANAMA PAGE - THANKS.

josborne
josborne says:
Feb 14, 2014 09:37 PM

Don't bother with Stanley Scott
Taking the ARC through seems to have gone to his head. His charges were hard to understand, but he is charging at least $500 as agents fee. Roy Bravo is recommended by the marina and seems a much better bet.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Mar 03, 2014 03:01 PM

Panama Canal Transits for yachts running quite smoothly so far this season without exceptionally long waiting times.
It is high season now and it is not known how many yachts will be arriving and checking in for transit, however as an example a yacht which arrived 7 days ago, got cleared and paid transit with the Canal Authorities in 2 days and transited
4 days later.
Karsten Staffeldt (Panama)

Val Ellis
Val Ellis says:
Apr 30, 2014 08:20 AM

On our way around the world we have reached Panama. Now having read a lot about re-stocking here either side of the canal, we thought this is the place. However we are very disapointed to always hear the sentence "no lo tenemos" we haven't got it. So sailors be adviced to purchase spare parts before arriving here. On the other hand, if you are lucky to find what you need, than the price you have to pay is quite reasonable.
Patrick Heini

Global Sponsor

www.pantaenius.com

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