Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools
The global site for cruising sailors
Sections
You are here: Home / Countries / Panama / Sailing Panama to the British Virgin Islands - some hints

Sailing Panama to the British Virgin Islands - some hints

By John Neal — last modified Jun 29, 2015 09:07 AM
We are mid-way on our series of voyages from Victoria, Canada to Sweden and are currently in the BVI. We just completed our third time sailing from Panama to the BVI and thought the following hints might be helpful to folks making a similar trip:

Published: 2015-06-26 23:00:00
Topics: Caribbean Sea
Countries: British Virgin Islands , Panama

1. Don't try and sail from Panama directly to anywhere other than Cartagena.

First time we got a hammering trying to sail from Panama directly to Ponce, Puerto Rico. OUCH!

2. Expect light and favourable winds and current from the San Blas past Cartagena, Punta Marta, and nearly to Cabo de la Vela on the Peninsula de la Guajira, just before the Venezuelan border.

Normally, the wind really howls along the northern part of this peninsula. This time we stayed 20-50 miles off, motorsailing when needed, until just before Cabo de la Vela. From there we were able to easily lay Boca Chica, Domincan Republic, on one tack, even easing sheets at times. Marina Zar-Par is totally ok and appears safe. They have customs and immigration offices in the marina, so in and outbound clearance was easy (Editor's Note: There is a fee for clearance here). The marina has self-service laundry, a great little restaurant, free internet and an excellent new first-class supermarket nearby.

The manager is Rigorberto Pichardo (rpichardo@marinazarpar.com) whom we found most helpful. Office manager is Yolanda Renal,(yrenal@marinazarpar.com), and she is super. We spent a day exploring Santa Domingo and found the old city, fort and cathedral beautiful and fascinating. The city is huge and the traffic crazy, so we were happy with taxis recommended by the marina vs. a rental car.

3. It's an easy overnighter, motorsailing inshore, crossing Mona Passage at night when trades are lightest to Ponce, Puerto Rico. It's then a daysail (probably motorsail) to Salinas, another super early (0300) start to avoid headwinds to Vieques, then another shot down to St. Croix and a fast daysail reach up to the BVI.

Hope that helps displace the thinking that it is very difficult to sail East from Panama.

If folks were trying to get to the ABC islands, a good option is to hold up in Punta Marta or even closer, anchor off Cabo de la Vela and watch the GRIB files, waiting until the trades die down before making the 130 mile dash from Cabo de la Vela, around Peninsula de la Guajira (the northern tip of Columbia and South America), to Aruba.

An update on Club de Yates de Acapulco:
Sr. Marquez is still officially the harbourmaster, although he is semi-retired and only in a couple of days a week.
Maria Cancino, the general manager, is the one who generally deals with visiting yacht requesting transient moorings. She rarely replies to emails:
navegacion@clubdeyatesdeacapulco.com
harbormaster@clubdeyatesdeacapulco.com
Tel. (744)434 19 99 ext 125 & 109.
Maria and Sr. Marquez recommend Jorge Torres of Navieras Asociadas (naviaso@btu.com.mx) as an agent for yachts. We used him as it was a holiday and he had immigration come to the yacht club and took care of customs and port captain outbound clearance - all for US$150 - which we felt was reasonable. Mooring rates at Club de Yates are US$3 per foot per night, highest we've every paid, but the options are few.

Update on Panama:

Flamenco Marina
Does not appear to want cruising yachts as they are more than full with large sportfishing boats and haven't repaired slips damaged by a storm last year.

La Playita
laplayita@siwireless.com
Tel: (507) 314-1730
They generally say they are full, but after speaking in person with Jose, the manager, he said they had one very surgy berth available. We wore out several dock lines, but it sure beat being at anchor for boat projects and re-provisioning. Fueling at La Playita is easy, but they request reservations as the Taboga ferries use the fuel dock for loading and unloading. This is not a fancy full-service marina and they management's attitude is slack, but we had no problems. Pricing is USD$150 first night, then US$1.50 per foot per night.

Shelter Bay
john@shelterbaymarina.com
www.shelterbaymarina.com
Manager John Halley is doing an excellent job
and does his best to find berths for all comers.

John Neal
SY Mahina Tiare III
www.mahina.com

Share |
Countries
Albania
Algeria
American Samoa
Angola
Anguilla
Antarctica
Antigua & Barbuda
Argentina
Aruba
Ascension Island
Australia
Azores
BIOT (Chagos)
Bahamas
Bahrain
Barbados
Belgium
Belize
Bermuda
Bonaire
Bosnia
Bouvetoya
Brazil
British Virgin Islands
Brunei
Bulgaria
Cambodia
Canada
Canary Islands
Cape Verdes
Cayman Islands
Channel Islands
Chile
China
Christmas Island
Cocos Keeling
Colombia
Comoros
Cook Islands
Costa Rica
Croatia
Cuba
Curacao
Cyprus
Denmark
Djibouti
Dominica
Dominican Republic
East Timor (Timor Leste)
Easter Island
Ecuador
Egypt
El Salvador
Eritrea
Estonia
Falkland Islands
Faroe Islands
Federated States of Micronesia
Fiji
Finland
France
French Guiana
French Polynesia
French Subantarctic Territory
Galapagos
Gambia
Georgia
Germany
Gibraltar
Greece
Greenland
Grenada
Guadeloupe
Guam
Guatemala
Guinea-Bissau
Guyana
Haiti
Hawaii
Heard, McDonald & Macquarie Islands
Honduras
Hong Kong
Iceland
India
Indonesia
Ireland
Israel
Italy
Ivory Coast
Jamaica
Japan
Jordan
Juan Fernandez Islands
Kenya
Kiribati
Kuwait
Latvia
Lebanon
Libya
Lithuania
Macau
Madagascar
Madeira
Malaysia
Maldives
Malta
Marion & Prince Edward Island
Marshall Islands
Martinique
Mauritania
Mauritius
Mayotte
Mexico
Monaco
Montenegro
Montserrat
Morocco
Mozambique
Myanmar (Burma)
Namibia
Nauru
Netherlands
New Caledonia
New Zealand
New Zealand's Subantarctic Islands
Nicaragua
Niue
Norfolk Island
Northern Marianas
Norway
Oman
Palau (Belau)
Panama
Papua New Guinea
Peru
Philippines
Pitcairn Island
Poland
Portugal
Puerto Rico
Qatar
Reunion Island
Romania
Russia
Saba
Samoa
Sao Tome and Principe
Saudi Arabia
Senegal
Seychelles
Sierra Leone
Singapore
Sint Maarten
Slovenia
Solomon Islands
Somalia
South Africa
South Georgia & South Sandwich Islands
South Korea
Spain
Spanish Virgin Islands
Sri Lanka
St Barts
St Helena
St Kitts & Nevis
St Lucia
St Martin
St Pierre & Miquelon
St Vincent & the Grenadines
Statia
Subantarctic & Southern Ocean Islands
Sudan
Suriname
Sweden
Syria
Taiwan
Tanzania
Thailand
Tokelau
Tonga
Trinidad & Tobago
Tristan da Cunha
Tunisia
Turkey
Turks & Caicos
Tuvalu
US Virgin Islands
USA
Ukraine
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
Uruguay
Vanuatu
Venezuela
Vietnam
Wallis and Futuna
Yemen
Add/Update Your Business
If you would like your business to be listed, or the details are wrong, please update your business