Panama to Callao, Peru in June

Published 14 years ago, updated 4 years ago

I wanted some advice about sailing from Panama to Callao in June/July. My plan was to sail from Panama to the Galapagos, Galapagos to Easter Island and Easter Island to Callao, Peru.

I’ve found some information in World Cruising Routes on sailing from Callao to Easter Isl. but I’m not sure what the trip from Easter Island to Callao would be like.

I have a Tayana 37 Pilothouse.

Perhaps I would be better off sailing from Panama to the Galapagos and from the Galapagos directly to Callao. If I do sail from the Galapagos to Callao, what is the best strategy? Am I better off sailing close to the coast of South America to keep out of the worst of the Humboldt current, or should I sail as close to a rhumbline course as I can manage?

Shawn Maxey


The first route you mention is not easy to sail at any time of year as the prevailing winds are E or SE, and by the time you intend to sail the SE’lies of winter will have set in.

I sailed myself from Panama to Callao many years ago, and from Callao to Easter Island. It was a relatively easy trip.

You do seem to have a good boat for the trip.

If I were you, and knowing that route from personal experience, I would go to Galapagos directly from Panama (do follow my tips in World Cruising Routes), then take the best angle towards the coast. Winds are usually lighter nearer the coast (depends on the time of year, of course) and the current is not too strong. You can stop in Paita for fuel if necessary. After that your best bet, if you wish to continue into the S. Pacific, is to sail directly to Easter Island and so on.




Thanks for all of the valuable information. I’ve heard from other cruisers that the best place for yachts to check into Peru is Callao. If I stop for fuel in Paita, will I have to officially enter the country there or can I just refuel and keep going? I’ve heard that some ports in Peru charge entry fees for yachts using the same formula as commercial vessels.

Given your experience, how long should I plan for the passage from the Galapagos to Callao?

The other route I was considering was to sail from Easter Island to the Juan Fernandez Islands and then from Juan Fernandez to Callao. I would be doing this in either August or September. World Cruising Routes shows variable winds for that time of year, and the pilot chart seems to confirm this.

My primary concern with sailing from Easter Isl. to Juan Fernandez is the chance of encountering a winter gale, though I’m not sure how prevalent they are at that latitude. From your experience, do you think I’d have favourable winds from Easter Isl to Juan Fernandez?

Any further advice you could provide would be appreciated.



If you are prepared to the motor in light winds not much more than 10 days.

I only suggested a place like Paita if you run out of fuel. If not it is indeed better to go straight to Callao.

I have not heard of yachts being charged as commercial vessels. This is why you ought to make for the Callao yacht club who are very helpful.

I don’t expect you to have favourable winds from Easter Is. to Juan Fernandez at any time of the year, but you could be lucky. In my opinion, it is the wrong route unless you are prepared to sweep right down to pick up the prevailing westerlies of higher lats.


Received 14 April 2009

Since we left Puerto Lucia in Ecuador, we have arrived in Puerto Montt, Chili. Just entering the most beautiful part of our voyage;

We have sailed from Puerto Lucia to Callao, Peru and from there further along the coast of the continent, visiting Arica, Antofagasta, and a lot of other places. Often we took an anchorage for the night in a nice quiet bay.

A lot of sailors are afraid of going south along the coast against wind and current. We had an easy, generally comfortable trip and we would like to provide information to everybody who would like to do the same instead of sailing to Easter Island and beating waves and wind.

He/she can contact us at our e-mail address and we will be happy to help.

Francis and Christine

SY Aquarius from Holland

[email protected]


We sailed first from Galapagos to Puerto Lucia, Ecuador and from there to Callao. Both stretches are about 600 miles. Puerto Lucia has arrived in one tack. Be aware of high prices in Puerto Lucia, but friendly people;

This was May 2008.

Puerto Lucia – Callao. Golfo de Guayaquil could be sailed in one tack, but watch for fishing nets. The Peruvian coast we tacked in short tacks close to the coast. Not too much wind and current. The last 30 hours we had no wind, 2 miles out of the coast the sea was flat and almost no current.

This was October 2008.

Callao – Arica. No wind, 600 miles on the engine, one-stop overnight with special permission in Golfo de Paracas. We put extra jerrycans on the deck.

November 2008.

Check-in in Arica is friendly and the Armada is most helpful. Only we got an inspection of a sanitary idiot, who charged us USD 120- for touching our frozen meat with his dirty hands. Apparently, in Iquique, there is not such an inspection. Mooring buoy in the Club de Yates in Arica USD 25.- per day, Iquique is free.

Arcia to Valdivia, hugging the coast in stretches of 200 – 400 miles, always waiting for weather windows with almost no wind, so we could motor close to the coast, where there is almost no current. Very often we took an anchorage for the night but sometimes we continued 24 hours not to miss the weather window.

December 2008 – April 2009

From Coquimbo to Valparaiso (Club de Yates Higuerillas, Concon) the current is a bit stronger. On the stretch Valparaiso – Valdivia we had strong winds from the north, which create enormous seas and swell. From Valdivia to Puerto Montt the weather forecast was 5-10 knots from the south, we got 20-30 knots.

All along the coast, you will find small, but nice anchorages to find protection if unexpectedly there is too much wind. If someone should have enough time, you can hop along the coast of the South American Continent almost in day trips of 40-60 miles.

We visited the following Club de Yates:

Antofagasta, Caldera, Coquimbo, Higuerillas. Prices between USD 10.- and USD 20.- per day, but all very protected and mostly you will have one-week courtesy.

So far a rough overview of our trip.


I am getting ready to leave Puerta Lucia, Ecuador, and saw your posting on Noonsite, about the trip from here to Callao. Thanks in advance for your help. Here are my questions:

1) How close to the shore did you stay & how were the fishing boats?

2) Any hidden fees at the yacht club, and what were the prices like?

3) Do you think the Yacht Club would be a good place to leave the boat for an extended period? I am looking at going back to the states for the summer, so am looking for someplace to leave the boat for 3 or 4 months.

4) Availability of parts, and importing parts? Did you learn anything about bringing in parts by plane, and if they will hassle you at the airport?

I also am looking at going further south, the more I read about Chile, the more interested I get.


David Smith

S/Y Magic Carpet Ride

Hi Dave,

I am glad to give you the information you asked for:

  1. We followed the coast between 2 and 10 miles off. One time we made a big tack, just to avoid a passage between the mainland and the island Isla Lobos de Tierra. The passage is dangerous. We did not see any fishing boats. We hit three times a fishing net in the Golfo de Guayaquil. The cable chafed the keel and went underneath without further damage.

2. No hidden fees at the Yacht Club of Callao. The first month is free of charge, thereafter about USD 100. They do all your paperwork for the entry and departure, at no cost.

3. It is a good place to leave your boat but check the mooring. I went off with the mooring when I was testing my engine. Ask for the mooring next to the floating guardhouse. This was my mooring and I put an extra block of concrete down. We left the boat for one month, no problem. But imagine, there seems to never wind in the bay.

4. No experience with importing parts, but the harbourmaster, Jaime Ackermann, speaks very well English and is most helpful.

There is one anchorage where you can go without problems with the authorities. Isla Lobos de Afuera. Anchor between the islands. Approach from the NW, but only with a good chart.

Use the PUB125, sailing directions for the west coast of South America. Written for tankers, but very helpful for a small yacht.

Hope; this helps, if you want more information, feel free to ask.

Good sailing, fair winds


Related to following destinations: , , , , ,

Related to the following Cruising Resources: ,

You must Login or Register to submit comments.