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By No owner — last modified Dec 09, 2014 01:53 PM

 Panama - General Info

Time Zone

UTC -5

Electrical Supply

Voltage: 110 V*

Frequency: 60 Hz

*Panama City 120 V

Money

Balboa of 100 centesimos. Balboas are on a par with US$, which circulates as an equivalent currency.

In the San Blas islands, US currency is normally the only money accepted.

Communications

International dialing code for Panama is +507.

Cruisers Nets

Cruisers Net Panama: The Colon side of Panama has a VHF Net conducted each morning at 8am, except Sundays on Channel 81A. This used to be on Channel 74 but was moved in 2013 to 81A due to too much local traffic on 74.

Yacht VHF Net Balboa/Amador: Mon-Sat 08:00 LT on Ch. 74

The Panama Connection Net on SSB 8107 (USB) 8:30 AM is a very helpful net for cruisers transiting the area from the ABC's, Cartagena to Panama.

VHF CHANNELS
06 - Balboa Yacht Club and water taxi
10 - La Playita (Amador)
10 - Flamenco Marina
12 & 16 – “Cristobal Signal Station” and "Flamenco Signal Station Balboa" (Panama Canal Authority - call before entering canal areas)
68 – Bocas del Toro working channel & net at 8 AM
69 - Cruiser channel Balboa/Amador
72 - San Blas/Linton working channel
74 –Taboga Island mooring balls
74 - Colon Cruiser channel & Shelter Bay Marina Cruisers Net 7:40 AM (only on Mon & Thurs)
74 - Panama City Cruisers Net 8:00AM (Mon-Sat)
81a - Alternative channel for cruisers nets

SSB Frequencies
7:30 AM (1230 UTC) – 8104 USB - Chris Parker Weather
8:00 AM (1300 UTC) - 7083 LSB - HAM only – C. American Breakfast Club
8:15 AM (1315 UTC) - 6209 USB - South West Caribbean Net
8:30 AM (1330 UTC) - 8107 USB - Panama Connection Net
9:00 AM (1400 UTC) - 8143 USB - Pan Pacific Net
9:00 AM (1400 UTC) – 6209 USB – NW Caribbean Net

Cell Phones
Both Cable & Wireless Panama and Telefonica Moviles Panama, S.A. (Movistar) use GSM 850 cell phone frequencies. Use a GSM phone with GSM 850 - either pay roaming charges on your current cell phone service provider or buy a prepaid SIM card in Panama assuming your cell phone is not locked to a specific network

Digicel update December 2014:
Anyone cruising using Digicel should be aware that if you purchase a SIM card in one country, it cannot be topped up in different one, as previously possible. So if you wish to use the sim bought here while cruising in other countries, you should either put on a large enough sum to cover your needs, or set up an account and do it online.
You can top-up Digicel at https://online-top-up.digicelgroup.com/

Another option is to rent a GSM phone from a local company while you are in Panama

American Export Import
Tel:506 2430 9077 Fax:506 2430 6792
Recommended by cruisers if in need of boat parts. Contact Oswaldo Perez Torres. Warehouses in Miami, Florida and San Jose, Costa Rica.

Transport

Airports
Panama City – Aeropuerto Internacional de Tocumen (PTY) (238-2700) is located in the eastern part of the city. You will get there faster if you take Corridur Sur expressway). The tolls add up but it is extremely fast. Make sure you are clear with the taxi driver on the fee (are tolls included?) and which way you are going.
Aeropuerto Marcos A. Gelabert (PAC) is also known as Albrook airport as it is located in the western part of the city, known as Albrook. There are daily flights to all parts of Panama, including the San Blas, David, Bocas, Conatadora and other locations.
These airlines also have a great economical courier service to remote areas of the country. If you have extra suitcases you can air ship them cheaper than checking them with your flight. Just go to the domestic shipping end of the Albrook airport and ship your heavy stuff. The trip between airports by taxi will take at least 45minutes or longer depending on traffic (allow 1 ½ hours).

From Cruisers Network Online - If flying from Panama to Quito, be sure to go armed with copies of your Panama cruising permit and boat documentation, as you will not be allowed to return to Panama without it.

Buses
Panama City - The Gran Terminal de Transportes is located adjacent to the Albrook Mall. Bus travel is very economical with numerous and frequent bus service between cities. Within Panama City taxis are better and very economical. Find out the rate before you hire a taxi as like everywhere there are sometimes higher prices for tourists.

Car Rental
Cruisers rent cars in Colon, Panama City and David. Rental cars can not be taken across the border into Costa Rica. The new 4 lane interstate is open between Colon (Sabinitas) and Panama City. In general the roads throughout Panama are good. You can get a better rate if you reserve a car online. You can also rent a GPS with digitized road maps.
Colon – Hertz (442-3272) and Budget (441-2126) are located at Colon 2000.
Panama City – Budget (Tocumen Airport PTY - 263-8777), Hertz (PTY - 301-2611), Dollar (270-0355), Thrifty (204-9555), National (PTY – 265-2222), Avis (PTY – 278-9444), Barriga Rent A Car (PTY – 269-0056), Arrendadora Economica (Nuevo Reparto El Carmen & Calle 50 – (229-5257), and Continental Rent a Car (213-0177).

Train
The Panama Canal Railway (317-6070) www.panarail.com
Runs one roundtrip per day between Panama City and Colon. From Panama City the train leaves at 7:15 AM from the station which is located in the Albrook area. The train leaves Colon at 5:15 PM. The train ride is about one hour, in modern coaches, air-conditioning and modeled after the railway first built in 1855. To be recommended.

Diplomatic Missions

Emergencies

Fire – Dial 103
Ambulance – Dial 103
Police – Dial 104
Directory assistance – Dial 102

Publications

IMRAY AND ADLARD COLES PILOT BOOKS are available at a discounted price for Noonsite.com users via World Cruising Club

A Captain's Guide to transiting The Panama Canal in a small vessel
By David
W. Wilson
2nd Edition February 2001 (plus updates 2002 & 2005) 
ISBN 9962­51­031­7

 

Explore Central America - Part 2
Continually updated guides available in PDF, EPUB, MOBI. Go to www.svsarana.com
The most comprehensive guides ever written about cruising the Pacific coast of Central America from Mexico to the Panama Canal. In a two part set, these books provide over 325 GPS waypoints, over 112 charts and city maps, detailed weather descriptions, forecasting information and surfing locations. These books highlight dozens of anchorages not in other books and tons of local information that sailors care about. Many GPS waypoints, charts and city maps, detailed weather descriptions, forecasting information and surfing locations. It also highlights dozens of anchorages not in other books and much local information that sailors care about Also included are detailed procedures for clearing into and out of the Central American countries as well as Ecuador, the Galapagos and Mexico.

A Thinking Mans Guide to Voyages South - the Many Facets of Caribbean Cruising
Author: Frank Virgintino
Published by Lulu: June 2011
ISBN 978 1 105 62982-2
Available at Kindle as well as all other EPub bookstores
2nd Edition now available as Free download at www.freecruisingguides.com
See Noonsite reviews here
2nd edition includes expanded section on the options to leave the North American Coast as well as addition work in "Quandrant N". Figures have been enhanced for greater clarity and index with active table of contents included.

The Panama Cruising Guide
By Eric Bauhaus
Publisher: Sailors Publications - Edition: 4th (2009)
ISBN: 978-9962-00-637-4
Comprehensive cruising guide for both the Panama Canal and San Blas and Las Perlas. There is also a useful overview of Panama’s coastlines, both in the Caribbean and Pacific. The book contains detailed sketch plans of all ports and popular anchorages as well as aerial photos, as well as tips on local etiquette, fishing, provisioning and land transportation. Good section on transiting the canal.

Captain's Guide to Transiting the Panama Canal in a small Vessel
By David W. Wilson
(2nd Edition February 2001 plus updates 2002 & 2005)
ISBN 9962-51-031-7

The Panama Guide
By Nancy Schwalbe Zydler and Tom Zydler
Publisher: Seaworthy Publications - 2nd Edition (2001)
ISBN: 9781892399090
Still the most comprehensive guide written about the extraordinarily beautiful waters of the Caribbean and Pacific coasts of Panama. It contains vital information for planning waterborne adventures along these facinating shores. With 187 detailed chartlets this guide travels through the 365 islands of San Blas, explores the protected bays of Bocas del Toro, the green shores of the Las Perlas achipelago, the intriguing rivers leading into the tropical forests as well as the spectacular Panama Canal. This book includes explicit piloting instructions, GPS waypoints, lists of navigational aids, local services, customs regulations and recommendations for on shore activities. A full-colour section featuring Tom Zydler's photography depicts the splendour and panorama of cruising in Panama.

Living in Panama
By Sandra T. Snyder, published 2007.
The most authoritative day-to-day guide to life in Panama. Available in bookstores in Panama or on line at: www.livinginpanama.net

Transiting the Canal
By David Wilson
Available at Islamorada Chart Store, Balboa.

The Panama Cruisers Information Guide
Find it at the Cruisers_Network_Online Yahoo Group. You'll need a Yahoo account to access the guide and forum. Meant to help cruisers get a start with basic boating needs in Panama, to include Colon, Linton, San Blas, Bocas/David and Panama City. From Agents to Watermaker Supplies, this guide has a lot to offer.

Cruising Ports: The Central American Route
By Pat Rains
Published by Point Loma Publishing (New 6.5 edition - June 2013)
See www.MexicoBoating.com for further details.
This book covers Pacific Central America (Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Pacific Panama) plus Mexico’s Gulf Coast to Veracruz, then NW Yucatan, NW Cuba, Yucatan Channel, Belize, Rio Dulce, Honduras and the Bay Islands, the Western Caribbean islands & banks, Panama’s Caribbean cruising grounds. This book culminates in Panama Canal Transit.

Panama City Anchorages
By MY Domino who spent a year in Panama
http://dominocatamaran.blogspot.com/2013/09/panama-city-anchorages.html

Panama Government Tourist Authority Website (Spanish only)
http://www.ipat.gob.pa/

Tourist website for the Republic of Panama.
http://www.visitpanama.com/

Panama Canal Authorities
https://www.pancanal.com/

Line Handlers - seeking or volunteering
http://www.panlinehandler.com

Bocas del Toro province

Panama Tours Information Site
With a large selection of tours, plus excellent local information, FAQ's etc.

A look inside the Panama Canal
On their third transit, cruisers John Lewis and Shawn Maxey on the Tayana 37 Pilothouse cutter Active Transport got a VIP tour of the workings of the Miraflores Locks. Published by Ocean Navigator.

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.

Update History

November 2014: New Domestic Clearance rules confirmed by Karsten Staffeldt.
June 2014: Publications checked and udpated.
July 2013: Balboa Immigration Branch Offices info. from Kay Langley of SY Frangipani and confirmed by Karsten Staffeldt.
April 2013: Clearance updates from Graham Keating of SY Maunie of Ardwall
April 2013: Fees updated with information from Latitude 38 passed on by Michael Bennett of SV Fan.
January 2013: Bringing in boat spares update from Cruisers Network Online.
November 2012: Immigration fee information clarified.
October 2012: Procedures for transiting the Panama Canal updated.
September 2012: Links all checked.
July 2012: Confirmation that a dinghy licence is not required by visiting yachtsmen.
June 2012: Posted notice to warn cruisers to be careful in finding a check-in port that isn't charging high visa fees, all all ports seem to be unpredictable at this current time.
May 2012: Updated Immigration again with on-going uncertainty re. fees being charged throughout Panama. Thanks to info. from Michael Rosner & Karsten Staffeldt.
May 2012: Clearance fees updated with feedback from John DeLong, SY Alouette.
May 2012: Immigration updated with on-going changes to rules.
May 2012: Clearance updated re. fines for not arriving with correct papers following information from David Kory.
May 2012: New immigration fee abolished, text altered accordingly.
April 2012: Further updates to immigration following information that Balboa not charging new fees.
March 2012: Immigration updated following news of new high visa fees and Transit Information updated with new transit schedule info.

 

Noonsite welcomes information and updates especially regarding clearance, customs and immigration procedures from cruisers visiting this country.

PleaseE-mail noonsitewith any new information, updates or corrections. Even just a short email confirming that the current data is accurate would be most helpful.

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

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.

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

nautinauti
nautinauti says:
Oct 30, 2014 10:32 PM

It is longer a requirement to get a zarpe when going from one oort to another within the country of Panama.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Nov 04, 2014 01:59 PM

Having checked with Panama City and Colon Port Captain offices (our thanks to Karsten Staffeldt for doing this), this information is correct.

That is, Domestic Clearances (Zarpe) between Panamanian Ports is no longer required.

However, one official did inform us that yachts still should report in to the Port Captain's Office when arriving at another port, but this reporting would not incur any additional expenses.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Dec 09, 2014 01:52 PM

New Season 2014/2015 Report from Karsten Staffeldt:
We should now be at the end of the Rainy-Season and the Dry-Season forthcoming, which is the cruising season here in Panama, from December to May. Also the Hurricane-Season officially finished November 30th, and this year with much less
activity than predicted, especially in the Caribbean area.
During the Dry-Season usual weather conditions expected in the Caribbean area whereas in the eastern Pacific conditions likely to be affected by El Ñino anticipated to be active in 2015.

The major expansion at the Panama Canal still under way and may be completed by the end of next year? Generally excessive transit delays for small crafts, inclusive yachts, not anticipated for this coming season, but it is a question of the number of yachts arriving - which is not known at this time.
I again make reference to the Panama Canal Authority's web-site www.pancanal.com go to Customer Forms and look for "Procedures for securing a handline
transit of the Panama Canal", containing information covering requirements, regulations and charges etc. for small crafts inclusive yachts.

Regarding cruising Panama, I can advise that clearing in and out between Panamanian Ports is not required any longer, consequently inward clearance at first port of entry and outward clearance at last port before proceeding to next foreign destination, bearing in mind it has to be done where Port Captain Offices are established.

Global Sponsor

www.pantaenius.com

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The Caribbean Directory of Marine Services and Vendors launched this week

The Caribbean Directory of Marine Services and Vendors launched this week  (16 May 2013)

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Panama, Shelter Bay Marina: Boatyard Manager Vacancy  (18 Mar 2013)

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Summary of Security & Piracy Reports 2012  (28 Feb 2013)

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Panama, Balboa Yacht Club: Pacific Puddle Jump Party, March 9, 2013  (18 Jan 2013)

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Panama, Colon: Protests over land sell-off  (23 Oct 2012)

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Caribbean Security Index from FreeCruisingGuides  (06 Sep 2012)

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Panama: Increased Canal Tolls Effective from October 1st 2012  (18 Aug 2012)

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Panama: Dinghy Licence for Local Residents  (18 Jul 2012)

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Panama, Bocas del Toro: American Couple Brutally Assaulted And Robbed On Their Sailboat Near Isla Colon  (09 Jul 2012)

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Panama Canal: ACP Announces Delay in Implementation of Toll Increase  (30 Jun 2012)

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Panama Immigration: If going to Panama, find out first the best place to clear in.  (26 Jun 2012)

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Honduras: Doublehanders Boarded and Robbed by Pirates  (14 Jun 2012)

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Panama: Row over Proposed Toll Increases  (30 May 2012)

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Visiting the Galapagos? Reduce your Human Footprint  (18 May 2012)

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Panama: Good News about Immigration Fees - with Update  (09 May 2012)

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Panama Canal Transit - Limited Advisors creates Backlog  (21 Apr 2012)

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Panama, Colon, Club Nautico: Skipper tied up and Robbed  (08 Apr 2012)

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Panama: Latest on Transit Waiting Times  (05 Apr 2012)

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Caribbean Free Cruising Guides - New Editions  (04 Apr 2012)

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Panama: Latest Transit Information - Further Updates  (20 Mar 2012)

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Panama: Waiting Time for Canal Transits Increases  (01 Mar 2012)

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Floating Doctors 2010-2011 Medical Relief Expedition  (09 Aug 2011)

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Panama: Marine Scene Marina – New Mega Facility in the Planning  (04 May 2011)

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Panama Canal Temporarily Closed to All Traffic - Update  (11 Dec 2010)

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New Webcast Service for Caribbean Weather  (20 Oct 2010)

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Panama: Skipper Killed and Crew Wounded in Yacht Attack - Further Updates  (11 Jul 2010)

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Panama: New Regulations Covering Cruising Permits - Effective July 1st 2010  (02 Jul 2010)

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Panama - Warning of ACP Canal Toll increase 2011   (30 Apr 2010)

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Panama Canal - Official Agent Listing Available Soon  (21 Oct 2009)

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Transit Fees for the Panama Canal  (02 Jun 2009)

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The Panama Cruising Permit - "Permiso de Navegacion"  (18 May 2009)

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Update on the Panama Canal  (13 Mar 2009)

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Panama Canal Transit Season - Update on Waiting Times  (21 Feb 2009)

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Panama: All Visiting Yachts Now Required to Pre-Register Arrival Information  (11 Feb 2009)

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Panama Canal Transit Season - Current Waiting Times  (09 Feb 2009)

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Confusion in the San Blas Islands  (17 Sep 2008)

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Is the Panama Canal back to Normal?  (20 Jun 2008)

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Waiting Times at Panama Canal Worsen  (16 Apr 2008)

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Waiting Times at Panama Canal Get Worse  (11 Apr 2008)

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Galapagos Restrictions  (03 Nov 2006)

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New US Immigration Requirements  (02 Aug 2006)

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Ecuadorean Authorities Ease Galapagos Restrictions  (05 Apr 2006)

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Spies, Crooks and Others Along the Way: Noonsite Book Of The Month  (10 Feb 2006)

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More News - Good and Bad - From Panama  (21 Sep 2005)

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Panama Canal Authority Tightens Screws On Yachts  (16 Sep 2005)

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Ecuador’s Puerto Lucia Provides A Perfect Base En Route to the South Seas  (05 Sep 2003)

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Panama Canal Raises Fees But Yachts May Not Be Affected  (19 Aug 2002)