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Panama - Bio-Security

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In September 2022 all restrictions were lifted for entry to Panama.

Our thanks to Erick Galvez of Centenario Consulting, Associated Yacht Services (AYS), Shelter Bay Marina, the Danish Ocean Cruising Association and the Panama Posse for updates throughout the Pandemic.




  • Mid-March, 2020, all maritime access was locked down and a 14-day quarantine introduced. Using an agent for entry was mandatory and some ports of entry closed down.
  • 20 March, 2020, Kunayala locked down and the Panama government announced restriction of movement. All crew had to remain on board their yachts. International flights were suspended.
  • At this point the situation was becoming critical in Panama.  The Aeronaval Police were getting more severe every day and turning boats away and out of anchorages. In the Las Perlas Islands, 20 boats were told to leave Panama with no where to go. Aeronaval were not allowing boats to enter marinas – cruising permit or not. Cruising boats were recommended not to head for Panama at this time.
  • 23 March Panama Canal transits were postponed for yachts under 65 feet in length and resumed on 09 April.
  • 25 March Movement restrictions (24hr quarantine) commenced with windows of time to shop for food, get medicines, and take care of other essential activities based on gender and the last digit of their national ID cards for Panamanians and passports or diplomatic ID for foreign nationals.
  • At the start of April, 14-day quarantine remained for arrivals (time at sea not counted), the best marinas for handling this being Shelter Bay, Linton and Bocas.
  • Exit zarpes were limited to USA and Europe, but in many cases difficult to obtain with port offices being closed. Visas and cruising permits were automatically extended.
  • 09 April transits for boats under 65ft resumed, but had to be completed in one day with 4 line-handlers per boat (plus skipper) all of whom have carried out 2 weeks quarantine on board. Difficult to comply with, however, to get around this the canal authorities grouped yachts together in rafts with 4 line handlers per raft making the process simpler.
  • Domestic cruising was not possible: crossing provincial borders invoked a new 14-day quarantine (e.g. San Blas to Colon) and many smaller communities were closed (e.g. populated Perlas islands).
  • 17 June, movement from marinas and anchorages was banned and watersports prohibited.
  • A National-Provincial Reopening Plan started September 7th with local cruising permitted.
  • October 12th international flights resumed. Arriving yachts were no longer subject to quarantine, instead arrival with negative test results completed within 48 hours prior to arrival in Panama was introduced. Testing on arrival was possible – at Shelter Bay the cost was $95 PCR test and $80 for the technician to come over to Shelter Bay. On the Pacific side $95 test and $30 for technician. In ports where testing was not possible – 14 day quarantine was still in place for arrivals with no rest results.
  • From 15 November test results from outside Panama were no longer accepted and tests had to be done on arrival.
  • 21 November transits for small vessels reverted back to past procedures.
  • April 2021, the San Blas Islands opened.
  • September 2022 all restrictions were lifted.

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Panama was last updated 6 months ago.

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  1. August 14, 2023 at 9:57 AM
    profile photo
    Sue Richards says:

    Update on PANAMA CANAL TRANSIT SITUATION (EL NIÑO PHENOMENON) from Associated Yacht Services:

    Effective July 30th 2023, due to low water levels at Gatun Lake resulting from the ongoing El Niño phenomenon, the Canal Authority is only transiting an average of 32 vessels per day until Sept 2024.

    Presently Panama Canal transit delays for unbooked vessels are running very high in the range 16 to 19 days (delays subject to vessel’s size).

    Draft restricion in the New locks for bigger ships (Neopanamax locks) still stands at 44 feet. No Draft restriction in the Old locks at the moment.

    As for Yachts arriving and transiting because of the Yacht size/length (smaller than commercial ships) delays should be less, however can expect unbooked delays in the range of 2 to 6/7 days subject to changes and latest Canal situation – which changes daily.

    For Yachts over 125 feet that use Locomotives and Panama Canal Linehandlers that transits can be Booked for a specific day, the Booking slots for the months of August and September are running out. We strongly suggest to check with your agent in time if you are planning to transit the Canal soon, as conditions will change as well as the amount of Booking slots.

    Delays for Yachts less than 125 feet are not running too high at this moment.

  2. May 25, 2023 at 2:14 PM
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    Sue Richards says:

    High season through the Panama Canal has ended and although news outlets are reporting drought and delays with transits, this will not affect yacht traffic, says canal agent Erick Galvez. “For yachts there is no delays, heavy season has ended, therefore transit after inspection is about 3-4 days. The dry season has affected merchant vessels, Panamax and Neopanamax, due to their high draft and heavy cargo, but every day there is traffic moving and yachts are not affected since yachts are always in tandem with a merchant vessel in the chamber. We are starting to get more rain since mid- May, thus lake levels will rise up eventually. What really affects yachts are the limited Advisors available per day, since they are workers within the canal authority who sign up to transit small craft in their time off. Also, the availability of Canal Inspectors, since they give priority to merchant vessels and their staff is limited as well.”

  3. May 8, 2023 at 9:52 PM
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    Sue Richards says:

    The Panama Canal has confirmed a Lane Outage at Pedro Miguel Locks (only the West Lane) from May 9th until May 16th (8 days) as per
    Advisory To Shipping No. A-19-2023. Significant delays in unbooked vessels will be expected during this period and several days after the maintanance is completed. Booking a slot is only possible for boats 125ft and over and costs US$10,500.

  4. February 13, 2023 at 5:48 PM
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    sue-richards says:

    While CSSN does not include Pacific anchorages in their database reporting, a recent event In Las Perlas has come to their attention. This is a common first stop for yachts that are west bound after transiting the Panama Canal.

    A yacht anchored off Isla del Rey on Isla de Espiritu Santo was boarded by 3 men armed with guns at about 2000HRS. The crew was made to lie face down in the cockpit with guns to their heads while the yacht was thoroughly ransacked, and everything stolen. The radio was disabled before they departed. There were no physical injuries. The yacht sought assistance from another yacht the next morning and both departed the area. It is unclear if a police report was made. See for updates.

  5. November 28, 2022 at 1:35 PM
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    sue-richards says:

    Panama agent Erick Galvez of Centenario & Co reports that many small craft customers are booking Panama Canal inspections during November and December to take advantage of the current transit tolls which will increase as of January. He also reports that canal operations are working as usual and a high volume of sailors are expected between January through May 2023, with the heaviest arrivals (including rallies) being in the month of February when usually there is a backlog of between 5-10 days.

  6. July 22, 2022 at 8:18 AM
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    sue-richards says:

    On July 12th, 2022, following the recommendation from the Panama Canal Authority (ACP), the Cabinet Council of the Republic of Panama officially approved modifications to the Canal Tolls structure. This means from 1 January 2023 to 1 January 2025 yachts transiting the Canal will see an in-crease in tolls on an annual basis. More details in Panama News (find under hamburger menu).

  7. May 27, 2022 at 11:58 PM
    mikie says:

    There is now no yacht club or anchorage in colon. Yachts must anchor within the 3 yellow markers close to the entrance of Shelter Bay Marina.

  8. May 17, 2022 at 7:54 PM
    jbecke1 says:

    Had an awesome experience with Roy Bravo and Emmanuel Agencies managing our canal transit and all our provisioning and maintenance needs. Also got us all lined up for the Galapagos with all the necessary tasks and advice. Can’t recommend his service enough. We’ll definitely use him on our next transit.

  9. June 20, 2021 at 8:29 PM
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    sue-richards says:

    The Panama Canal has scheduled a locks maintenance outage in Gatun locks from July 5th to July 14th (10 days). Significant Panama Canal delays of several days will be expected during this period. If considering transiting the canal during this period it is recommended to book a slot ASAP to avoid delays.

  10. April 28, 2021 at 8:04 PM
    kenny-lawrence says:

    Where can I find a source for the April 14th biosecurity update? At least one marina implies that the mandatory 5 day quarantine period applies to everyone, regardless of where travel is initiated.

    1. April 30, 2021 at 7:30 PM
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      Sue Richards says:

      Hi Kenyy, the updates were from Shelter Bay Marina and Linton Bay Marina, based on what they are currently doing (i.e. just arrivals from South America have to do 5 day quarantine, the rest get a covid test on arrival and are usually cleared in, in less than 12 hours). Where is it that you are choosing to clear in in Panama and where are you coming from please?

  11. November 13, 2020 at 6:24 PM
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    sue-richards says:


    All boaters be advised that due to the ravages of hurricane Eta, the road over the mountains is completely washed out and may take a year to reopen. Also, many mud slides shut down the roads between Almirante, Changuinola and Chririqui Grande.

    Additionally, the quarantine has closed all of the land border crossings between Costa Rica and Panama. My numerous requests for border a reopening schedule, from contacts in both countries, is the same; “We don’t know.” Likely, it will not open again this year, maybe in 2020 but a future opening date is unknown.

    For sailors returning to their vessels, another complication is the lack of flights between David (the closest PriceSmart) and Bocas del Toro. The government, in all of its wisdom, forces all international flights through Panama City.

    The new international airport facility in David has even been forced to cancel the previous, and long standing route to San Jose, Costa Rica. Even Air Panama flights must go through PC before returning to David. A 3X longer and costlier journey.

    This has been done in favor of the owners of Copa Airlines.

  12. August 26, 2020 at 3:30 PM
    sassafrass says:
  13. July 25, 2020 at 3:31 AM
    jgood says:

    I came to Panama City from Shelter Bay in June 2020 into the middle of COVID19 pandemic lock-down.
    Boat had a damaged shroud, engine was in need for new service parts and my inflatable was disintegrating at alarming speed which made moving to shore and back a daunting experience. Plotter maps for Polynesia and some tools where also on the shopping list.
    All in all I was in dire need for some good local help.

    Due the damaged shroud I was lucky enough to get acquainted with James and Rosalind Laign who are Selden representatives in Panama City. They are Kiwis but have been living in Panama for 35 years.
    They ordered spare parts quickly using fast but cost effective freight carrier. Shroud was then replaced on the spot in an experienced manner.
    James knows Panama City and its vendors like his own pockets, while Rosalind is a champion with parcel logistics. She gave me many valuable advises while I was sourcing the new dinghy, which is not easy in Panama City. There is practically nothing available locally and when importing one freight and customs duties can be 50% of the overall cost.
    If you are in Panama City and need any kind of help with your boat, you can’t go wrong by contacting James and Rosalind at Panama Yachting Services.


    Jouni Lahdelma
    sy Little Jim

  14. June 26, 2020 at 6:46 PM
    svspitzer says:

    Nightmare in Pedregal, Chiriqui.
    I entered here from Costa Rica in January and scheduled some routine medical attention. But….Covid 19 cancelled everything. Check in was slow, difficult and expensive. The new President put his own people in charge, and the charges were excessive and overbearing.
    I do not recommend entering here, Flamingo is a much better option.
    This used to be a great option, but no more.
    Now, my visa is expiring , no medical attention is possible and the port is closed. I feel like I am at ground zero of a huge ripp off.
    This morning the enviro facists swarmed my boat, ignored all the local boats. Money is tight here, the economy is down, they are going after the foreigners with money.
    Only enter Chiriqui if you have no other options, it is not recommend anymore. Can’t wait to get back to Mexico.

    Christopher Landrum
    M/S Right Ascension
    Pedregal, Chiriqui, Panama

  15. March 14, 2020 at 4:52 PM
    seatrek says:

    I just got a call from a friend anchored in Amador, Panama City, They were planning on leaving Panama headed to the Marquesas and said Panama is not issuing exit Zarpe! they are stuck here until further notice.

    1. March 16, 2020 at 12:51 PM
      profile photo
      sue-richards says:

      Hi Michael, Yes, on March 14th the Government of Panama locked down all marinas and boats and sea ports (until April 7, 2020). There was a lot of confusion and at the time no exit zarpes were being issued. However, exit zarpes are now available. Keep an eye on Panama Biosecurity for the latest on what’s going on re. COVID-19 regulations for small craft in Panama –

  16. March 8, 2020 at 1:35 PM
    sofiene says:

    Checking out of the country was done at the Flamenco marina at the Pacific site where custom and immigration are present. You will be delivered a “Zarpe” paper necessary for the next country port entry.
    If you have a cruise permit, you can up to 5 days (we did 7days) stay in the Las Perlas islands, prior crossing the Pacific.
    We did anchor at the Playita safe anchorage where you can leave you tender at the Playita Marina for 7 USD a day. An “eXtra” big supermarket is 5 to 10 min by taxi for 20 USD both ways. a small supermarket is also available near the playita marina with limited supplies. Gas refill can be done at the Flamenco marina. Petrol and water are available at both Marina. Flamenco Marina VHF 10, being bigger for Maneuvering.
    After transiting the Canal, the Balboa marina is a good stop for the night. A 24h shuttle is available on channel VHF 6 to bring you on shore. This is mostly the Marina where your agent will ask you to drop the lines and fenders rented for the transit. Balboa marina is only on mooring. The marina is noisy and suffers from the traffic in and out of the Canal.

  17. February 28, 2020 at 5:28 AM
    sofiene says:

    To add to our previous post, we used Erick as Agent for the transit he’s very professional and you can pay at the marina with credit card without going to the Colon Citybank. we recommend him and his sons.
    Erick Galvez
    Centenario & Co.S.A.
    email ~
    Cellphone/WhatsApp +507 6676-1376

  18. February 28, 2020 at 5:25 AM
    sofiene says:

    We checked in the Panama country very easily & directly at Shelter Bay Marina. After checking in the Marina office, you have to go to the harbor/port officer who is also delivering you if you want a cruising permit 235$ (delivered after 2 days; The port officer is arriving usually after 10am). The cruising permit is not needed if you only cross the canal and do not stay in the country before/after. Then you need to go with all the crew to the Immigration office (usually arrives at 8am).
    Shelter Bay Marina is very safe and daily (except Sunday) twice a day a shuttle will drop you at the Rey supermarket where you can arrange delivery of your food directly at the harbor (if exceeded +/-300$). The shuttle will bring you back as well.
    Juan is actually managing the marina, he is doing a fantastic job and his team is very professional and friendly.
    A sail repair shop is available managed by Bill who is usually overloaded. A ship-chandler is available with limited supply but you can order specific parts if needed and when possible/available.
    A small market shop is present at the Marina with food supply and fresh bread.
    Good quality fuel (Diesel) is available at the fuel pontoon.
    Repair can be done including hauling out.
    We explored by foot with the kids the secured neighborhood surrounded by forest. We could see a lot: monkeys, Parrots, old US army buildings….
    The kids enjoyed every day the pool. A restaurant is also available
    Gas refill is available at the Marina reception (2-3 days needed as the bottles are sent to Panama city) where Stefania and Nicole will help you.
    Use DHL if you need to receive some packages as UPS and FeedEx will charge much more.
    You can rent a car from Colon from Different car rental offices if you want to explore. Daily prices between 35-45$ without insurance.
    Taxi to Colon is about 20$ and taxi to International airport at Panama is about 80-100$.
    I hope you will enjoy Panama as we did!

  19. January 23, 2020 at 4:54 PM
    neilhal says:

    We stayed at Flamenco Marina in Dec ‘19. Very expensive $100/night with electric (40’ boat) and just plain waste of money – not worth it. Cold water only and no shower head in the showers. Service poor or non-existent. Located waaaaay out there on the causeway.

    Recommend instead Balboa Yacht Club. Mooring balls only but inexpensive and closer to Albrook, etc. (think lower cab fares) great restaurant, $1.50 tap Balboas all the time, friendly and fun. Great place to watch the canal traffic. Rolly with wakes & such but at $35/night with the other location benefits it’s a very worthwhile alternative to the expensive, inconvenient and no service marinas on the Pacific side.

  20. December 26, 2019 at 4:39 PM
    ldorenfest says:

    We transited the Panama Canal three times – twice on our own boat – most recently in November 2019. Highly recommend Erick Galvez and his team not only for the transit but also if you have any questions about sizeable imports. His contact information is below

    Erick Galvez
    Centenario & Co.S.A.
    email ~
    Cellphone/WhatsApp +507 6676-1376

    1. January 23, 2020 at 4:33 PM
      neilhal says:

      Erick Galvez was a GREAT agent! He went above and beyond for us. Knowledgable, helpful, prompt, communicative, responsive. We highly recommend Erick.

  21. December 24, 2019 at 12:16 AM
    swan65cdlgmail-com says:

    We transited the Panama Canal in February 2019.
    Would like to recommend Roy Bravo for an excellent job as agent. He had us through after a two day wait at Shelter Bay Marina.
    Whatever you need Roy will arrange in no time.

  22. November 23, 2019 at 6:15 PM
    waterman46 says:

    Where can I get a list of phone numbers for the Navy, or other authorities to call for emergencies, of countries in Western Caribbean area? I have sat phone and want to program them in.

  23. November 11, 2019 at 3:13 PM
    jalarcon says:
  24. September 9, 2019 at 4:03 PM
    deimar says:

    Bonjour a vous tous j’ai remarquer de personne fait des commentaires en Français , donc je vais le faire : Alors c’est vrais il n-y as plus besoin de visa de marin pour entrée ou sortir du territoire Panaméen la seul chose que vous devez payer votre cruissing permit a linton Bay ou a Porvenir si vous rentrer par les San Blas.
    Pour les document du canal et faire le passage il y as plusieurs choix, soit vous le faite par vous même et il vous faudra absolument un bon téléphone pour les photos du documents ou un bon scanner .
    Soit vous prenez un agent ou une agence qui occuperas de vous faire tout ça y compris le payement a Colon car pour le payements du canal il vous faut aller a la citybank a Colon City( en ce moment la plus dangereuse au niveaux des crimes ou Panama ).
    Il y as plusieurs Nom qui figure pat mis les plus fiables ( sans arnaque ).
    Susy Rios de l’agence DEIMAR parle francais, Anglais et Italien.(
    Roy Bravo parle Anglais , Espagnol
    Stanley a Shelter Bay Anglais et Espagnol .
    Pour la mesure de votre bateaux avant le passage il y as aussi 2 possibilités
    1- La Zone des Flats a l’entrée du canal ( gratuit et a l’ancre ) mais pas de possibilité de y aller a terre .
    2-Shelter Bay Marina mais il faut payer le droit de rester par nuit ,il faut payer la wifi , le lieux est très confortable avec hôtel , restaurant et piscine mais cher .

  25. August 9, 2019 at 3:34 PM
    sassafrass says:

    FYI, we were just in Allbrook office center Immigration office in Panama City. We inquired about getting a Mariner visa. We just recieved our cruising permit yesterday. The lead immigration officer said these visas no longer exist. We also found out if you are a US citizen and fly in, as our daughter did you may not get your passport stamped by immigration in the airport. You are required to keep your airline ticket as proof of entry via fast pass. Good to know if you will later leave the country via water or land.

  26. May 8, 2019 at 1:12 PM
    zeppelin says:

    We are in Panama City right now doing boat work. We just ran into an issue that I think all cruisers in Panama or headed this way may want to know about.

    We ordered some autopilot parts for the boat from Canada and had them shipped to us here at La Playita Marina. I checked with both the marina management and the onsite Aduana (Customs) office here at la Playita and both confirmed that as long as we put “Vessel in Transit” followed by the boat name and captain’s name and then the address of the Marina the parts would come in duty & tax free. The parts were shipped by UPS by our supplier and arrived 5 days later.

    Upon arrival of the parts we were presented with an invoice from UPS for 7% of the value of the shipment in taxes plus a $35 delivery fee and they would not release the parts unless we paid the $174 total in full in cash. This is on top of the $208 they charged our supplier for the shipping. After much arguing, along with the assistance of the marina Manager, we relented and paid the invoice as we would not have received our needed parts otherwise.

    I subsequently found out that UPS is not registered or licensed to bring in shipments duty free under Vessel in Transit. They won’t pay the required registration fee to the Panama Aduana. They are the only major shipper that is like this, FEDEX, DHL and even the Post Office are all fine, only UPS has this problem. This was confirmed to me by the Aduana office at La Playita and the marina Manager. I strongly recommend that any vessel that needs to import parts and equipment not use UPS and instruct their suppliers to also not use UPS, otherwise it will be very expensive.

  27. May 5, 2019 at 10:33 PM
    sailingbaydreamer says:

    So whats going on in San Blas? Is it still safe?

  28. May 3, 2019 at 5:34 PM
    flyerjon20 says:

    Pirates kill New Zealand man, leave woman and child injured in Panama
    22:03, May 03 2019
    Alan Culverwell had been sailing the Caribbean for two years.

    Alan Culverwell had been sailing the Caribbean for two years.
    A New Zealand man is believed to be dead after armed robbers attacked his yacht in the Guna Yala district of Panama. His wife and a young child were injured.

    Local news outlet El Siglo identified the man as Alan Culverwell, 60, who was with his wife Derryn and two children, Briar and Flynn, near Morodub island, a popular tourist area.

    A group of “hooded individuals” reportedly boarded his 15-horsepower yacht about 2am on May 2 (local time). They attacked Alan with knives, mortally wounding him and injuring both Derryn and Briar, before making off with the yacht.

    Alan Culverwell was near Morodub island, a popular tourist area.

    Alan Culverwell was near Morodub island, a popular tourist area.
    A GoFundMe set up by Michelle Perry said the Culverwells were “without a doubt the kindest and most genuine family we have ever me

    They had spent two years sailing around the Caribbean, and were on their way to the Panama Canal, before finally making their way back to New Zealand.

    The Panamanian Minister of Security Jonattan Del Rosario vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice.

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed they were providing consular support to a New Zealand family in Panama, but would not elaborate further.

    1. May 6, 2019 at 3:25 AM
      kiwifarmer says:

      with the greatest of respect, the vessel was a 60ft launch from Florida on its way to NZ. The pirates did not take the vessel and Alan was shot with a shotgun. His wife was seriously injured with a machete but managed to lock herself and her children in a room until help arrived. It appears the theives were after the usual outboard etc and shot Alan when he came on deck. I gather the time was 3am in the morning. Sincerest heartfelt sympathies for his wife and children. D Blackley NZ

  29. April 10, 2019 at 5:52 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Panama Yachting Services had already decided that it was time for James to retire from heavy physical rigging work when this job came along. At 76 and with his 77th birthday this month, it was time for James to stop going up masts and let younger, stronger people take over the physical work. Now, Shelter Bay will be providing the people who measure and install Selden products under James’ supervision.

    Panama Yachting Services will continue to help to visit yachts with our local knowledge gained over 40 years in Panama, and, work as a sales outlet for Selden – advising on the selection of the Selden range of masts, rigging, and roller furlers, etc. Our role in the future will be to act solely as sales agents for Selden, Rolly Tasker Sails and Lalizas marine products, as well as De-Bug magnetic fuel purifiers.
    The stays ordered for Uldis were the wrong length.

    We are not sure how this happened. First time ever! We replaced them at our cost and paid for his rigging to be installed. We did not consider we were responsible for his marina bill, because delays were due initially to the fact that he had metric turnbuckles that could not be used with the imperial studs supplied by Selden. Sorting that out took time.

    Uldis did not understand that it was not possible to fly in new studs from Sweden to match his turnbuckles and swage them in Panama. Selden supplies imperial studs and good swaging machines were not available outside the USA. Then there were delays caused by festive events – Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year when the US suppliers closed down. We met his request for a letter for migration and offered any other assistance he needed.

  30. March 29, 2019 at 5:49 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Warning to sailboats considering standing rigging repairs while in Panama. On top of the cost of materials shipped from the US, Messrs. James and Rosalind Laing of Panama Yachting Services S.A. allowed themselves so much unprofessional errors and sloppiness to cause my sailboat ‘Single Malt’ to remain moored at Shelter Bay marina for 4 months instead of the promised 3 – 4 weeks.

    My claim of thus inflicted USD2748 (most of it marina fees) was declined by ‘We are a small business and we simply don’t have those funds.’ Luckily, the marina (who witnessed all this nightmare of 3 consecutive shipments due to measurement and judgment errors) has been extra friendly and accommodating. Kudos, Shelter Bay!

    With ruined sailing schedules already and no mood/time for litigation, all I can do is advise you all to learn from my mistakes.
    Uldis Ozolants, skipper single-hander/retired lawyer.

  31. March 27, 2019 at 5:47 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Posted on behalf of SV Kandu.

    The $185 Permit is required for all yachts navigating Panamanian waters for more than three days. Acquiring one:

    1) Linton Marina, the Port Captain provides you one on the spot without additional charge.

    2a) Shelter Bay Marina, for $50 cash, no receipt, the Port Captain will arrange and provide you your permit through the Linton Port Captain, 1-2 days. You provide him the $185 cash.

    2b) Shelter Bay Marina, for $25, receipt provided, and $185 cash, the marina office will process your permit through the Colon Port Captain, who in turn, sends the request to Panama City. Once complete, the marina driver collects the permit from Colon, 5-10 days in total.

    3) Solo, you can take the Shelter Bay Marina shuttle bus to Colon Port Captain’s office and initiate the process yourself, communicating directly with the office yourself, and boarding the shuttle yourself to collect your completed permit.

    Line Handlers
    Recommend volunteering for another’s boat transit and then hiring at least one of your agent’s professional line handlers, $100 per handler all in. Not only do they prep and handle lines and fenders, but they can also re-enforce your preferences with the advisors and canal workers. Note: For your volunteers, a pre-arranged taxi back to Shelter Bay from Balboa is $100.

    Lines & Fenders
    Recommend renting them. No more tires, only real fenders are provided now, 8 of them. Four extra-long polypropylene 7/8” lines. For $12 cash tip, a Balboa Marina tender will collect them from you as you pass by.

    After Transit
    Balboa Marina; If you can get a mooring ball, per night is ~$50. Marinas are expensive. Playitas said $150 first day, $2/ft/day after that. Anchoring, remember they have a 15-foot tidal range here.

    Erick Galvez is a popular agent here in the marina. We’re using him and are very happy with his service. English speaking, quick and thorough email responses.

    All the best,

    s/v Kandu
    Shelter Bay, Panama

  32. November 26, 2018 at 5:12 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Unfortunately, Karsten Staffeldt mentioned in Sources of Panama Information has passed away. We received this email from his wife: “This is Karsten wife Nellie. Karsten passed away on July 14th 2018. Pls, let his friend know. Tks.” He has been a hero to so many sailors dedicating his life to help other people. RIP

  33. June 12, 2018 at 5:11 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Feedback from Robert Burn:

    We are now in Shelter Bay Marina near Panama where the tariff for our 16.7 vessels is US$80 per night. We are funnelled here because we are transiting the Canal, and it is all much easier this way!

    Erick Galvez has been very good and has us going through in five days from arrival. We had to weld up our stern fairleads to satisfy the PCA inspector Jose, a cheerful fellow.

    The transit for our vessel is $1300 and with fenders and ropes and one experienced line handler, it came to just over $2000. The boat measured more than two feet longer than the registered LOA, which may explain why I am spending more on paint.

    South America is better than the Caribbean in many aspects, much to do with the people. Peru is reputed to be the most convivial.

    We are heading to French Polynesia and there seems there are a couple of others heading that way too.

  34. May 8, 2018 at 5:10 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Sending items to Panama.

    I can’t be more appropriative of Coray Ward of mailboxes etc. An incredible help in assisting the clearance of parcels. I would definitely call or contact him first and he will be able to give appropriate advice on the courier to avoid any delays in the processing in Panama. His communication is excellent and really goes the extra effort. Hands down the best service experience while in Panama.
    Mike S/Y Alba

  35. March 14, 2018 at 12:08 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Reported by S/Y Sannsipapp of Norway:
    Panama Agent for packages.

    I have the pleasure of recommending a good agent that makes all the hassle with receiving packages etc. from abroad go away. What this company does is having all sent through a PO box address in the USA, making import to Panama a lot easier. They charge not much for doing it, and the service is priceless.

    They take care of all paperwork, customs, clearance etc. for you and come to deliver the goods to on your boat, nearly wherever you might be. We had such a good experience with this guy.

    The company has at least two offices in Panama City. Coray A Ward, Mail Boxes Etc, tel 507 2256254 or 66243216,,

    Axel H K Wold
    S/Y Sannsipapp of Norway

  36. March 11, 2018 at 4:06 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Affordable Marinas on the Pacific coast of Panama?

    A report from friends of ours on MY Crossroads is that Vista Mar Marina in San Carlos is cheap and brand new with great facilities.

    Marina location is approximately 8°29.0N, 79°56.6W

    Check out all the information and our friends’ feedback on the San Carlos page here on noonsite –

  37. February 21, 2018 at 5:05 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Reports from cruisers in the San Blas Islands are that for about a week now, the Congresso that governs Kuna Yala has banned the travel of non-boat owners into the region.

    As the charter trade is totally unregulated here, large numbers of Charter vessels have proliferated, possibly outnumbering the private boats. Any business venture by anyone other than a Kuna in the region is illegal per Congresso law.

    No charter guests can be transported by taxi to charter boats at the mainland docks or by water taxi to boats at anchor. Offending operators are being fined up to 500 USD.

    Returning boat owners who have either pensionado cards for legal residence in Panama, or have their Cruising Permit and crew list, are managing to get back to their boats.

    Air travel to the two airports in the Western San Blas has not been available for the past 2 years, so SUV travel from Panama City on the Carti road is the only method of visiting Kuna Yala.

    The resolution of this problem is unclear at this time and one larger tour operator is involved in a legal battle over this, but they do not think it will be resolved for at least a month.

  38. November 19, 2017 at 9:04 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    San Blas Ustupu EVENT: Theft
    DATE: 2017-11-06 08:00
    HAND: 1
    Stolen Items: 40 ft. of port headsail sheet
    SECURED: Not Locked
    DETAILS: When departing, owners anchored just west of Ustupu discovered their port headsail sheet had been cut just behind the track car and the remaining 40 ft. of line stolen. It had been coiled and secured to the lifeline.

    Their buddy boat reported that sunscreen and bug spray had been taken from their dinghy while tied to the Ustupu military dock. The theft will be reported to the local officials at their next stop westbound.

  39. October 6, 2017 at 5:03 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    I wanted to give some positive feedback for Puerto Armuelles as an entry and exit port for the Pacific side of Panama.

    We cleared in and out of Panama there with no hassle at all. The port captain filled out all the forms, copied all our documents and helped us with our crew list… We obtained all of our exit papers in about 45 minutes and when we came in it took about an hour to clear.

    There is good holding in about 25 feet of water by the banana dock. Basically an easy in and out stop with good shopping, diesel available at $2.00usd a taxi ride away and friendly efficient service.

    I don’t speak Spanish.. but they all understood what I wanted and helped a lot. The very positive experience there.

  40. August 11, 2017 at 5:01 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    The increase in transit tolls for commercial vessels, effective October 2017, does not affect small crafts (up to 125 ft. LOA). All information on the Customer Form “Procedures for securing a Handline
    Transit of the Panama Canal” from 2012 is still current and can be seen on the Panama Canal

  41. August 2, 2017 at 5:01 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    A further report from Karsten Staffeldt – 1 August 2017
    Transit of the Panama Canal – Small vessels inclusive yachts (Less than 125 Ft. LOA)

    Please be advised that the Pilot Organization at the Panama Canal has notified the Canal Authorities that they should have more control of the transits by small crafts inclusive yachts, which presently only requires an Advisor.

    The negotiations are in the early stages, but if the Pilot Organization is successful and a regular Pilot will be required, no doubt the transit cost for the small craft will increase considerably.

    Shall keep you advised of developments.

    Karsten Staffeldt

  42. May 20, 2017 at 3:58 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Report from Karsten Staffeldt: Contact in Panama for noonsite & various Scandinavian Ocean Cruising Associations and the OCC.
    Panama update:

    Our Summer, Dry-Season, is over and the Rainy-Season started, which will last to
    November. May is also the end of the sailing season Panama and in June the
    Hurricane Season in the Caribbean and eastern Pacific is expected to begin.

    In the Pacific El Niño is presently neutral and La Niña conditions are expected later this year.

    As far as the Panama Canal Transits for small crafts, inclusive yachts, we have seen some delays during the past months, but with the season being over this situation is not expected to continue in the coming months. Furthermore, at present no indication that the transit cost for small crafts will increase this year.

    As far as Panama is concerned – some changes.

    It seems that the situation at San Blas Islands has normalized somewhat, it is now possible again to clear it with both Port Captain and Immigration at Porvenir.

    Also, Immigration requirements have changed and crew on non-commercial yachts will be grated minimum 90 days tourist permission at no cost, which can be extended, but in such case, a visa is required costing around $ 105,00.

    Otherwise, no significant changes relating to clearing in and cruising Panama, however it must be pointed out that Rules and Regulations are subject to frequent change and often with different interpretation by the various Port Captain and Immigration Offices.

    For Galapagos, obtaining permission to call required as well as the use of an agent.

    It is recommended that yachts wishing to call Galapagos to contact any agent well in advance of their planned visit in order to arrange the necessary permits.

    It should also be noted that Rules and Regulations are frequently changed and at
    times the interpretation of same up to the local Authorities attending the
    clearing in!

  43. April 13, 2017 at 3:57 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Panama Canal delays have only gotten worse since February. We were measured on Monday, April 10th and were given a date of May 9th, 29 days out. Our agent says next week, after Easter, there may be an improvement, so I’ll update you if things change.

  44. February 22, 2017 at 3:55 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Panama Canal – Transit delays February / March 2017
    Transit delays are now anticipated through the end of this month (Carnival Season) and into the first half of March (arrival of rallies). They are expected to be extensive.

  45. January 2, 2017 at 3:55 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    We used immigration in Porvenir last December 28th, 2016.
    The officer asks us for 105 USD per person to obtain the visa for 6 months.
    With the help of our friends, who had obtained a visa a few days before, we were able to enter for free – as the new law permits.
    Beware that not all the officers are aware of the new law.

  46. July 8, 2016 at 3:53 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    The latest from our contacts in Panama:

    1: Apparently little is going on as far as discussions between the Central Government and the Kuna Yala Congress.

    2: Reports from several yachts indicate that they are cruising the San Blas without problems and collection of fees/charges at anchorages is inconsistent. In most reports, no Kuna Yala Fee and anchoring fees have been collected.

    3: Also some yachts coming from Colombia or the east have reported that agents in Panama are advising them to cruise the San Blas if they so wish before proceeding to Linton, Portobelo or Colon for clearance (which is contrary to regulations).

  47. June 21, 2016 at 11:53 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    18 June 2016: Reported on the San Blas Cruisers Facebook Group

    The Port Captain at Linton Bay Marina (Puerto Lindo) has all the stamps required to check you in for a year.
    The cost to check in is $195 payable in cash only.

    The Port Captain in Portobelo does not have the stamps for the cruising permit, therefore you would have to go to Colon or to Linton Bay Marina for that.

    There is no immigration office at Linton Bay Marina as of today, but it is coming soon.

    The closest immigration place from Linton Bay is in Portobelo where you can check into the country.

    If the immigration office in Portobelo does not have a special visa, the one that costs $100, then you have 72 hours to get it, either in Colon or in Panama city.

    The stamp obtained in Portobelo will be good for you to travel to the country for 72 hours.

    There is no bank in Linton Bay (Puerto Lindo) or in Portobelo, but there are banks and ATMs in Sabanitas, which is on the way to Colon or Panama city.

  48. May 31, 2016 at 3:52 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Posted on behalf of Javier Palacios Fenech:

    1 – Panama border is closed in Puerto Obaldia and El Porvenir due to the number of immigrants wanting to reach the US from Colombia.

    2 – Be careful with non-official Agents. The stamps they offer are not valid to stay in Panama, and not entered into the immigration office system.

    3 – Armed robbery in Portobello to a french yachtie. Be careful, also in Puerto Lindo. Several cases of robbery in the last few weeks.

    4 – Bureaucracy to enter Panama is not so bad as in Colombia, but as the business between Cartagena and Panama is growing and there is an immigration conflict, official agents are becoming more strict with crowded boats. i.e. they may ask for a reservation of a flight out of the country and proof to be financially independent to each passenger. i.e Portobello, Colon.

  49. May 2, 2016 at 3:51 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    If you’re short in time to a provision in Panama-City, we could surely recommend Chris Burillo (email: to, take care for provisioning.

    All fruits and vegetables (coming from the fresh market) were of excellent quality and price, meat comes vacuum packed and cooled, and all supermarket items were delivered according to our request.

    Chris is a great person with a big interest in sailing…
    Delivery was made exactly on time, everything well packed.

    If contacting him, do not forget to order some honey, this is really delicious!

  50. April 15, 2016 at 3:50 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    We would like him as well. When both pilots came on board, both of the said they were relaxed as they know that we had 2 knowledgeable line handlers on board (based upon our experience during crossing the locks, at least 2 line handlers with prior Panama Canal experience are an absolute requirement 🙂

  51. March 29, 2016 at 3:48 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Rob and I aboard our Oyster 406 used the services of AYS, Associated Yacht Services to arrange our Canal Transit. Alessandro RisI and Josimar of AYS were professional and friendly and did all the running around for us including clearing out and our Zarpe on leaving.

    Their email responses were prompt enabling us to sent scanned documents to them while we were still in Curacao. Shelter Bay is a safe and friendly place to stay, with good haul out and boatyard facilities and John Hallen, the manager, and his staff are welcoming and can organise most things.

    Our Advisor, Regis, directed us to the free anchorage on the canal side of Flamenco Marina, which although noisy at times is an adequate spot near the La Playing harbour end. We dragged in fine silty mud when we anchored further south. Most yachts take their tenders into La Playita pontoon, but since January the charge for leaving it there has been $57 per week and you CANNOT pay by the day.

  52. March 13, 2016 at 3:46 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    A correction re dogs arriving in Panama. We arrived by boat to Boca’s Marina. No advance check-in. We declared our dog and then paid 50 dollars in town and he was allowed ashore. He does have a UK pet passport and all relevant vaccinations/ microchip. By plane from the USA…we saw a USDA vet who completed the paperwork, then went to the Dept of Agriculture who confirmed the paperwork and vet were genuine. Then we took the paperwork to the Panamanian consulate and they checked the paperwork again.

    When we arrived in Panama the quarantine people checked our dog and the paperwork. He was given a 40 day quarantine which can be done on the boat. The whole process cost about 350 dollars! Not cheap but so be it. Secondly most dogs are friendly in Panama, especially Kuna dogs. A warning if landing your dog for a walk at Linton Bay. There is a restaurant in the right hand corner that has 5 white dogs who are very unfriendly and bit our dog badly. The owner just said it was his dogs right to attack our unprovoked even though we weren’t near their restaurant.

  53. February 23, 2016 at 3:45 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Portuguese Man ‘o War
    At this time of year, these creatures can be seen in this area.

    If you are stung by one (also applies to a lionfish, coral, stingrays etc.), the best remedy is HOT seawater.

    Any chemical agent, or change in PH, or Salinity, or chemical composition, will trigger the stinging cells to fire more venom. For many millions of years, these things have evolved to exist in a narrow temperature band, but by increasing the temperature, it simply turns the cells into protoplasm, like soup.

    The target temperature is about 50 C or 122 F, but just try to get as hot as you can tolerate.

  54. February 23, 2016 at 1:44 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Emmanuel Agencies S.A. Roy Bravo’s main aim in his professional career is to make sure you do not work have any worries and to make your transit totally trouble free. Ironically out of all the forms, permits, payments fees, visas etc that have to be paid, this is the only one that is not necessary and the one that is most useful. Being singlehanded he arranged ropes fender, rope handlers who were the most pleasant you could wish for.

    Roy was always there at the end of the phone for me and responded to emails often within minutes. Admeasurer was arranger within 2 days and within 2 days of that my transit was underway. Of all the monies spent transiting the canal Roy’s was the best value and the most friendly and the one very reasonable amount that I did not mind paying. Thanks very much, Roy a pleasure doing business with you. Bob Redley Tiger Lily

  55. February 11, 2016 at 3:42 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    From San Blas Cruisers Facebook Page:
    We arrived in San Blas 2 weeks ago, and we have paid:

    105 USD P.P. for Visas (our 12-year-old daughter was free)
    200 USD cruising permit for 1 year
    20 USD P.P. / month park fees (our 12-year-old daughter was free)
    20 USD per boat/month park fees.

  56. January 16, 2016 at 3:41 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Roy Bravo: agent

    I selected Roy Bravo to handle our entry, exit and canal crossing based in the many recommendations from other cruisers. He promptly responded to email well in advance of our arrival and handled every detail of our stay. The canal transit went as per the detailed schedule he provided along with competent and pleasant line handlers, good fenders and ropes.

    He met us in person at the Balboa Yacht club where he had arranged a difficult to get a mooring for a few days. All charges were detailed in his invoice with no surprises. Based on the above I can join the other cruisers before me who had the pleasure to meet Roy and benefited from his extensive experience in handling transiting yachts and confirm our recommendations from all the crew of “Wind of Change”

  57. June 29, 2015 at 3:39 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Posted on behalf of SY Two Oceans:
    Filling water in San Blas, Panama is a bit of a problem. The options we found were:

    Look for Paco’s house in the anchorage between that island and Corazon de Jesus. His man, Apollo, brings water from Rio Diablo and using a bucket fills your tank. Typical cost – 8$ for 50 gallons. They also sell gasoline.

    Squad up
    A small concrete dock, very close to the beach at position 09 27’.301 N 78 59’.947 W has a tap. Desperate for water we agreed to pay 25$ for 70 gallons.

    Rio Azucar
    A busy dock at position 9 25.846 N 78 37.72 W has a tap. They charged 5$ for tying to the dock and 15$ for the water, regardless of quantity.

    There used to be a working tap near the dock of Carti Tupile at approx. position 9 28.56 N 78 57.71 W, but we found its pipe broken. No water available in Carti Sugdup too.

    Miki Barzam on “Two Oceans”

  58. May 31, 2015 at 2:38 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    We made a google map with important addresses in Panama (Portobelo, Colon & Panama City). You can see it here:

    Now is only on polish but we try to translate it 🙂

  59. May 1, 2015 at 3:36 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Information from Karsten Staffeldt:

    Yachts going to Panama simply to transit the Panama Canal
    Regulations are somewhat “cloudy” with reference to the 72-hour rule mainly being applied to commercial vessels transiting the Panama Canal, which most do within 72 hours, and for which no navigation permit is required and no crew visa.

    Vessels transiting the Canal also do not need to undertake domestic clearance between the Caribbean/Pacific Terminals.

    Some yachts using agents have been able to pass the Canal handled the same way as commercial vessels, however, this is only possible if the yacht in question has transited previously and registered with the Canal and is ready to transit on arrival in Panama.

  60. April 28, 2015 at 3:35 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Panama City Cruisers Net now meets Monday thru Saturday at 08:00 on CH68 and also uses this frequency for hailing.

  61. April 21, 2015 at 4:33 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    We worked with Roy Bravo from Emmanuelle Agencies and it was great. We had some problems, parts were cleared quickly, the canal transit went smoothly and he solved our problems when we were not correctly checked in at the San Blas Islands. Thanks to Roy we were able to leave in time.

    By the way, we thought Colon to be much nicer than Panama City. You just have to know where to go and where not to, and you have to speak Spanish or ask someone to help you out.

  62. April 4, 2015 at 3:31 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Oliver Yacht Services assisted me for my canal transit in January 2015. Many thanks to Oliver, the agent who assisted with the paper work, lines, tires and line handling. He is very helpful, reliable, punctual and professional. He responds quickly to emails at any time, speaks fluent English, German, French, Dutch and Spanish. Provides advice on the transit details. Highly recommended.

  63. March 24, 2015 at 4:30 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    PANAMA CANAL –Passing March 2015

    Our agent was Oliver – we can his service highly recommend!
    Oliver is a multilingual yacht agent from Belgium, offering his services in Shelter Bay, Porto Lindo, Porto Belo and Panama City. We met him in Porto Belo, that save money for taxi and marina.

    Oliver is a great help for spare sourcing, provisioning, gas filling, local information and other logistic needs. He speaks fluent German, French and Dutch. It was nice to communicate with him in our mother tongue,

    Oliver is punctual, reliable and reachable anytime by phone +507 6602 0498 or by email

  64. March 20, 2015 at 7:28 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    I can recommend Oliver Yacht Services for helping with canal transits and provisioning. He arranged our transit very fast as we were in a hurry and for a decent price. He is very punctual and correct.

    He is a real polyglot speaking, Spanish, Dutch, German, English and maybe more which makes all the paperwork and formalities easier.

    The line handlers he arranged spoke English and were nice company. Also filling my dutch propane tanks with non-standard fittings was arranged in one day. highly recommended. Phone +507 6602 0498

  65. March 13, 2015 at 3:23 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Agent for Canal- March 2015

    We would thoroughly recommend Roy Bravo of Emmanuel Agencies. He replies promptly to emails. His fees and costs are very transparent with no surprises. he was very helpful on other non-related matters and went the extra mile to ensure the canal crossing was smooth and fun.

    He can provide excellent line handlers, and we would recommend having at least two ” professional, for their experience, language [dealing with pilot etc]. If you can have Daniel as lead linehandler he is a top guy.

    Roy even drove me to the hospital on our arrival and spoke to the reception to organise my treatment. Later on, when we decided to go to Galapagos he organised a fumigation certificate at short notice.
    Thoroughly recommend

  66. February 14, 2015 at 3:18 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    It is true that very often the shops do not have items in stock, however, you can always let spares fly in from US / Miami at reasonable shipping rates. There are weekly flights so waiting times are mostly not too long.

  67. February 12, 2015 at 12:21 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    We needed to transit the canal within four days of arriving at Shelter Bay Marina in January 2015. Many thanks to Roy Bravo, the agent who made it possible by organizing all the paperwork, ropes, tires, and line handlers. Very professional, experienced and helpful. Responds to emails at any time of the day or night. Provides advice on the transit details. Highly recommended.

  68. February 9, 2015 at 9:18 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

    Posted on behalf of Karsten Staffeldt:

    Lately, the question of holding tanks has been brought up and that the Canal Authorities prohibit the discharge of any “dirty water” in the Canal area, which in fact indicates that a Holding Tank is required.

    However, generally the question of holding tanks is seldom mentioned during inspections and that some yachts have rented portable units (which requires a fair amount of space). Also, the Canal regulations state that the Advisor they place on board must have the necessary “facilities”!

  69. April 30, 2014 at 3:11 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    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 disappointed to always hear the sentence “no lo Tenemos” we haven’t got it.

    So sailors are advised to purchase spare parts before arriving here. On the other hand, if you are lucky to find what you need then the price you have to pay is quite reasonable.

    Patrick Heini

  70. February 14, 2014 at 3:09 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    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.

  71. January 11, 2014 at 3:07 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    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 repair well done, Catherine s/v Gentle Rain II

  72. September 19, 2013 at 3:05 AM
    Data Entry3 says:

    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

  73. May 2, 2013 at 4:06 PM
    Data Entry3 says:

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

    Provides reasonably priced 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.

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