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Pacific Panama: Navigation notes for the Darien Region

By SY Alba — last modified Nov 13, 2013 03:23 PM
In October 2013, the Howarths did a short cruise in the Darien region of Panama on their yacht “Alba” – a Hallberg Rassy 42F with a 2.0 metre draft. A little-explored region of Panama, the Darien is beautiful and remote and well worth a cruise-in-company.

Published: 2013-11-13 00:00:00
Countries: Panama

Pacific Panama: Navigation notes for the Darien Region

Photo taken by SY Alba

Darien Region of Panama 2013

In October 2013, we did a short cruise in the Darien region of Panama on our yacht “Alba” – a Hallberg Rassy 42F with a 2.0 metre draft. 

The Darien province of Panama is only 80 miles from Panama City, but it isn’t often visited by cruisers mostly because of security concerns.  It’s an area of dense jungle, reportedly frequented by Columbian drug runners and guerrillas.  However, the region where we cruised appears to be safe and there’s a large presence of Panamanian armed forces in the area.

Panama_Darien RegionThe Darien is a remote and beautiful place, with river systems that penetrate the jungle and it’s inhabited by two tribes of Indians called the Wounaan and Emberá.  These Indians are trying to retain their traditional ways, but there is increasing pressure on their customs as the more westernised, Latino Panamanians buy land and build more roads into the region.  If the Pan-American Highway is extended through to Colombia then the social pressures will increase dramatically and these Indian cultures many only last one more generation.

We went with three other boats, “Grace”, “Lil Explorers” and “Windsong”. It’s good to have buddy boats around for the additional security – if you go aground or have an engine failure then you have some help on hand. Our group travelled fifteen miles up the river systems, visiting two indian villages where we were made very welcome.  

Our Navionics electronics charts were okay in some places, but up to quarter of a mile out in other spots.  We’ve created a set of navigation notes that can be found on our web site giving GPS positions where necessary.

The navigation notes can be found at:  http://www.thehowarths.net/albacronicles/cruising-notes

Our blog of the trip can be found at:  http://www.thehowarths.net/albacronicles/2013-western-caribbean/october-2013

Neville Howarth - Yacht Alba

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