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Old 11-11-2014, 21:28   #31
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Re: Cuba to Where?

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Originally Posted by travellerw View Post
Alright... Talk to me more about Rio Dulce Guatemala.. It was top of my list at one point, but I just didn't know enough about it. I also didn't seem to find much information online.

Here are some things I would like to know:
1. Dry storage. Is it affordable. How secure (do they do tie downs)?
2. Security. How secure would the boat be in dry storage for 6 months? I worry about break in and theft.
3. Refit, I know they have good prices on skilled labour but what about items. I.E. Batteries (maybe LifePo), solar panels, thru-hulls, pumbing items.
4. Shipping.. How secure is shipping to Rio Dulce. I will be shipping a few items from home (Canada) to the boat. I'm worried some stuff might go missing.
5. Speed of shipping. If they don't have an item locally, I plan to order it online. Will it take weeks or cost a fortune to ship stuff there?

Actually, all the questions above are why I'm leaning towards the US. All of the above is easy or affordable in the USA.

Not to mention that getting to Rio Dulce from Canada is a bitch.. Even more of a bitch when you factor the 3 kids under 10.
1. Don't know current rates on dry storage, but RAM marine has loads of dry storage space and could quote you. They don't normally do tie downs, but then again there are no TS/hurricanes so I've never heard of a boat being toppled in the Rio.

2. RAM's yard is reasonably secure. Have not heard of any theft there. Have had my boat on the hard there for extended time (mostly unoccupied) and know many others who've dry stored there with no troubles.

3. Some things are available locally (RAM has an official WM store and there are a few other smaller suppliers). Batteries and panels are cheaper to ship in. Both are available on the Rio/Guate but relatively expensive.

4. Shipping security. I've based out of the Rio since 2006. Have shipped in literally tons of stuff using several different services and have never had anything go missing, nor know of anyone who has.

5. You can ship shared surface transport or air. Air is quick (days after reaching Miami), but of course more expensive. Its best for small lightweight things. I use CPX Box for Air, excellent service. Surface (ship) takes longer (weeks), but is way cheaper. I use TransCargo for surface, they charge a flat rate including duties so its very cost effective.


Yes, travel to the Rio is a bit of a PITA. No good way around that, except charter/private flights to a local private strip. You can potentially fly into Flores Guatemala, which is closer, but flights are limited.
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Old 11-11-2014, 21:45   #32
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Re: Cuba to Where?

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Originally Posted by travellerw View Post
Thanks Mark... I was planning to e-mail you as I followed your blog with the work you did there in 2013.. I'm glad you responded here so everyone can benefit.

My rough research on the net shows about $5-$6.5 per foot per month for dry storage. Does that sound about right?

As to travelling there.. I have heard 2 options.
1. Fly to Guatemala city and take a bus (5 - 6 hours).
2. Fly to San Pedro Sula, Honduras and take a cab (about 3 hours + border crossing)

Any other options for travel that you know of?
...

3. Flores and bus/taxi to Fronteras, but flight schedules are limited.
4. Belize City - fly or road to Punta Gorda - water taxi to the Rio.
5. Belize City- fly or road to Flores - road to Fronteras.

Both 4 & 5 would be a hassle with kids & lots of bags and border crossings.
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Old 11-11-2014, 22:05   #33
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Re: Cuba to Where?

The West marine in the Rio is not a real West Marine. The real WM will vehemently deny having anything to do with them.
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Old 12-11-2014, 05:45   #34
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Re: Cuba to Where?

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The West marine in the Rio is not a real West Marine. The real WM will vehemently deny having anything to do with them.
I've never bothered to officially confirm it, but per Richard (owner, and great guy in my experience), prior to opening the store, they were to be a brand name WM store, and they are in apperance and function.

Who at WM disputes it?
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Old 12-11-2014, 05:52   #35
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Re: Cuba to Where?

Another upside to the Rio is that its in Guatemala, amazing country, I've travelled all over Guate for almost a decade now and still find great experiences there. Finally made it to the kite festival in Sumpamgo this year...wow! And the Rio is a good base for inland travel.

Panama & Colombia also have lots of great inland options, but its hard to match the richness and beauty of Guatemala.
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Old 12-11-2014, 06:21   #36
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Re: Cuba to Where?

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The West marine in the Rio is not a real West Marine. The real WM will vehemently deny having anything to do with them.
Yes, all of the cruisers there started stating this as fact before the store even opened. Interestingly, that "fact" started from someone antagonistically associated with the owner, and was transmitted through the cruisers, who repeated it without any actual knowledge of the situation. Do you know of anyone who has actually contacted West Marine and had someone "vehemently deny" this association?

The store is an official West Marine affiliate. I don't know how this differs from a West Marine store (if it even does), but it is stocked by Port Supply, carries West Marine house brands, uses official West Marine promotional materials, uses West Marine price tags and receipts, and is allowed to use the West Marine name in general.

Certainly, West Marine would step in and block the use of their name, not provide promotional materials and sales equipment/supplies, and refuse to allow Port Supply distribution if this was not acceptable - no?

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Old 12-11-2014, 09:08   #37
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Re: Cuba to Where?

I was in the Alameda, Ca. WM store last week. The manager told me this.
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Old 12-11-2014, 10:03   #38
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Re: Cuba to Where?

Does he represent the West Marine Company's policies? Again, if the RD store was not affiliated with WM, it seems like WM would step into that pretty quickly and protect their name and reputation. Not to mention their supply and distribution chain.

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Old 12-11-2014, 10:20   #39
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Re: Cuba to Where?

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Does he represent the West Marine Company's policies? Again, if the RD store was not affiliated with WM, it seems like WM would step into that pretty quickly and protect their name and reputation. Not to mention their supply and distribution chain

Mark
The guy I talked to even made a mildly disparaging remark about what they have been hearing about the RD store. He said quite clearly that WM has nothing to do with that store.
I doubt a US company can do anything about some guy's in GUA posing as a West marine store. How the parts supply thing is working is a mystery. I guess I don't care as long as I can get more stuff in the RD. I hope they don't screw it up.
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Old 12-11-2014, 10:29   #40
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Re: Cuba to Where?

Well this thread has taken a couple of twists...

Anyway.. I've been looking into flights and travel to Rio Dulce from my location.. Looks like that might be a deal killer for Rio Dulce. The shortest flight I can find is 17 hours (including layovers), then add a bus ride to that. Although its possible, I don't think its something I want to saddle my wife with for the start of our adventure.

Of course there are other options like flying into Miami and then organizing a connection from there, that significantly drives the cost up (almost double). Doing that would be $1200-$1400/person.

While Rio Dulce still remains on my list, it won't be my first choice now for the start of our trip. However, after researching it, its definitely on my cruising list. So much to see, it looks fantastic.
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Old 12-11-2014, 11:13   #41
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Re: Cuba to Where?

The flights to Bocas might suit you. Direct to Panama City, taxi to the small airport, direct to bocas. And that airport is right there. You can walk and take a panga to a boat. I think Bocas would be more kid friendly than the Rio.
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Old 12-11-2014, 11:19   #42
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Re: Cuba to Where?

If its not been posted before there is a pretty good Rio site. The forum has a thread about getting around. Seems to be a pretty active community of expats there.

riodulcechisme.com - Home
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Old 12-11-2014, 19:49   #43
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Re: Cuba to Where?

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The flights to Bocas might suit you. Direct to Panama City, taxi to the small airport, direct to bocas. And that airport is right there. You can walk and take a panga to a boat. I think Bocas would be more kid friendly than the Rio.
Another option is to fly into San Jose CR and then on to Bocas. Avoids the flight/very long road travel from PC to Bocas.
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Old 12-11-2014, 19:59   #44
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Re: Cuba to Where?

You guys switched to Bocas... I'm thinking you are talking about Panama now, correct?

Although Panama is on my list, its fairly low down as I have a cruiser friend there right now. He advised that its probably not a good place to start with a family as the outfitting is fairly difficult and expensive (lots of Gringo tax). Fairly hard to get in stuff that isn't available locally. Many items go missing when shipped in. He also says that Colon is an absolute dump and downright scary.

Its only his opinion though. I'm open to what others have to say.
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Old 12-11-2014, 20:13   #45
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Re: Cuba to Where?

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You guys switched to Bocas... I'm thinking you are talking about Panama now, correct?

Although Panama is on my list, its fairly low down as I have a cruiser friend there right now. He advised that its probably not a good place to start with a family as the outfitting is fairly difficult and expensive (lots of Gringo tax). Fairly hard to get in stuff that isn't available locally. Many items go missing when shipped in. He also says that Colon is an absolute dump and downright scary.

Its only his opinion though. I'm open to what others have to say.
That's an opinion. I did not notice any extra tax. I don't think any of the neighboring countries are any better supplied. As for Colon, only worldly guy's go wandering about town, the rest of us are quite safe in a taxi.
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