A Dedication to Karsten Staffeldt – a great friend to the cruising community

Friend to cruisers, weather router, the source of local knowledge – Karsten provided invaluable advice to thousands of sailors and will be greatly missed.

Published 5 years ago

Every November for at least the last decade, noonsite has received an e-mail update from an incredible contact in Panama advising of the season ahead, expected weather conditions, changes to Panama Canal regulations for small craft and any other useful information pertaining to cruising yachts in the region.

Sadly, this November there was no message, as Karsten Staffeldt passed away in July.

Karsten dedicated so much of his time to the sailing and cruising community and there are countless cruisers out there who will have met or talked to Karsten at some point during their Caribbean or Pacific cruising who will join us in hailing this unsung hero.

Karsten was Danish and a shipping man. He lived in Panama for more than 40 years. He was also a radio amateur (call sign HP1XBM) and very active on both the amateur bands and the Marine SSB frequencies.  He ran a radio network every evening covering the whole of the Caribbean and the East Pacific Ocean, assisting cruisers with weather and routing advice.

He was also the contact person in Panama for a number of cruising associations, including the Danish Ocean Cruising Association (DOCA), Swedish Oceanseglingsklubben (OSK), Swedish Jorden Runt Seglar Klubben (JRSK) and the Ocean Cruising Club.

Not only that, but Karsten also assisted any sailor that asked with information and advice covering cruising Panama, Panama Canal transits, the Galapagos Islands and weather and routing information for the Pacific.

This was simply a hobby for Karsten, all done on his own time, free of charge.

“He was a charming man and so very kind with his time. He dealt with the complexities of the ever-changing formalities in Panama with such calmness, always taking time to swiftly find out the right details for noonsite, selflessly and without any demands, just for the joy of helping others” commented Sue Richards, Noonsite’s editor.

“Karsten was a wealth of information for those in Panama City preparing for a passage that for most would be their longest yet,” Pam and Denis MacBrayne of the OCC told noonsite. “He also was an experienced weather router and provided invaluable information for those venturing into the South Pacific.  We were fortunate to have Karsten’s daily guidance on our passages this past spring from Panama to Galapagos and Galapagos to Fatu Hiva.  He will be sorely missed by all of us cruisers who benefited from his expertise in guiding us from Panama to the Marquesas.”

Kim Bork Mathiesen, chairman of the Danish Ocean Cruising Association (FTLF/DOCA), posted the following tribute to Karsten following his death: “In the middle of July, we discovered the unexpected announcement that the association’s contact person in Panama, Karsten Staffeldt, had suddenly passed away, 75 years old. It is a big loss for all sailors, for Karsten was not only the contact person but also the weather guru who advised the sailors of the current wind and weather conditions in the Caribbean and the Pacific. I have personally communicated with Karsten on radio and mail for more than 20 years and he has provided invaluable advice to thousands of sailors around the weather and routes. With his central position in Panama, he was also the expert about the latest rules and regulations for the passage of the Panama Canal (not a single matter to keep track of as these rules are constantly changing).

“I met Karsten in connection with our recent trip through the Panama Canal in 2006. After many years of radio contact, it was exciting to meet him “in reality”. Karsten invited us back to his cozy home where his wife Nellie looked after us and drove us later on sightseeing tours around Panama City. Karsten loved to meet the sailors he had had contact with, but a few years ago, unfortunately, he had to inform the association that his health no longer allowed these personal visits on the boats. However, his weather advice continued until the last, preferably via mail. Karsten will be missed far beyond the FTLF/DOCA member circle, as he advised any sailor who approached him. It was mainly Scandinavian sailors who used Karsten’s weather service, but I know a lot of sailors from other nationalities who also had contact with Karsten. He was also a regular supplier of facts updates to noonsite.com, which is one of the best facts sites for sailors.

“Honor be the memory of Karsten.”

Karsten was the lighthouse keeper for so many cruisers, in particular for those venturing out on their first Pacific crossing. His light will continue to shine in all our hearts and in the rise and fall of the waves.

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