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Old 11-03-2013, 11:47   #16
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Portobelo, Linton and Shelter Bay were fine last year but one guy was bashed and robbed in the fort next to the Chagras River. Colon is wild and requires you to keep on your toes or catch a taxi everywhere. We thought Panama overall was fantastic and spent 5 months hanging around between the San Blas, Linton, Portobelo, Shelter Bay and the Pearl Islands.
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Old 11-03-2013, 11:54   #17
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Re: Panama Experience Welcome...

Thanks for the information! I grew up in Ecuador and know the behave and whereabouts of Latinamerican cities. Also, I was in Panama a few times, have good business friends over there and would not even want to walk into the City. I want to pass the Canal, dock somewhere while I get the passage and not being robbed.
So, my question is aside of Marina el Shelter, is there another place to go and be safe, which is maybe cheaper. I do have a confirmation to get into Marina el Shelter and (depending on the arrival) it shouldn┤t be a problem, says the Manager. As I have E Mail underway I can do reservation once coming down from Yucatan.
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Old 11-03-2013, 11:58   #18
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Re: Panama Experience Welcome...

Colon is very dangerous, but most other cruising areas outside of there are fine in Panama. The Chagres River has seen some robberies, etc., but most cruisers seem to be fine--it is close to Colon. From Shelter Bay you can take long walks on old roads and trails into the jungle and see monkeys, etc. There was reported to be a Jaguar seen when we were there. Crocodiles and alligators too, so watch where you swim.
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Old 11-03-2013, 12:06   #19
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So, my question is aside of Marina el Shelter, is there another place to go and be safe, which is maybe cheaper. I do have a confirmation to get into Marina el Shelter and (depending on the arrival) it shouldn┤t be a problem, says the Manager. As I have E Mail underway I can do reservation once coming down from Yucatan.
Anchoring in Portobelo is free apart from $1 to the local kids who will watch your dinghy at the dinghy dock when you go ashore. You can also get other yachties or backpackers there as line handlers if you need to. Your plan should be:

1. Shelter bay marina. Taxi to Colon, organize the transit, do it yourself since you speak Spanish. They will measure your boat within a day or two. Organize tyres and lines for the transit.
2. Sail back to Portobelo for the wait. Order any boat stuff you need now since it is much easier than getting it shipped to S America later. Wait for your transit date. Ring them everyday to see if your date can be moved forward if you are in a hurry.
3. When ready, go back to shelter bay for your tyre fenders and lines, then go anchor at the Flats to pick up your canal advisor, go thru the canal, etc.
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Old 13-03-2013, 18:30   #20
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Portobelo is an excellent, 300* protected bay to anchor while you wait your turn to transit the canal.

Captain Jacks in Portobelo can get all boat stuff down from the USA. Much better than the chandlery at Shelter Bay Marina and ends up costing the same as West Marine but delivered to little Portobelo in the jungle. Jack is a character and sells beer for $1 and rums for $2.
I am anchored in Portobello. Just arrived from the San Blas, and not even lowered the dink yet. But I have about $1000 USD in bits and pieces in the US at my mailing service to get shipped here. I can get it to the airport in Panama City, but the only quote so far is $350 to clear it in so I can pick up...also in Panama City.

Can Capt Jack get it to Portobello? Or other suggestions to bail the parts out of the PTY airport?
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Old 13-03-2013, 18:33   #21
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Re: Panama Experience Welcome...

The folks over at Shelter Bay could probably bring it in for you and have it delivered there too. Don't know what the price would be. If you went in to the marina I'm sure some of the other dockers there would know all the ropes.
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Old 13-03-2013, 18:41   #22
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The folks over at Shelter Bay could probably bring it in for you and have it delivered there too. Don't know what the price would be.
I saw their website information. They want 20% of the value for the shipment. I may do that, but the best I can tell is there might be a 7% tax (not duty). So that leaves 13% for the paperwork and delivery, where I would prefer to pick up in Panama City...or pay for Portobello delivery.

Panama has a free trade agreement with the USA in force (late 2012). So it seems like this should be a simple process, yacht-in-transit or not. But it isn't?
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Old 13-03-2013, 18:45   #23
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pirate Re: Panama Experience Welcome...

In the Colon area it can get a bit lively but one does not have to go far for the quieter life.. and to be honest I did not think Colon was that bad.. just another poor city... the locals I got to know seemed fine
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Old 13-03-2013, 18:50   #24
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Re: Panama Experience Welcome...

I would definitely talk to Capt. Jack too, though I have never dealt with him. When I was there I used various locals to round up stuff for me parts wise, and I never had anything come in other than some small FedEx packages with mail. I'm pretty sure both UPS and FedEx will deliver there too and then their customs agents can bring it through--at least I think so. Might be worth contacting UPS over in Panama City. Maybe some cruiser over in Panama City will post and let you know the current situation.
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Old 13-03-2013, 18:59   #25
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I would definitely talk to Capt. Jack too, though I have never dealt with him. When I was there I used various locals to round up stuff for me parts wise, and I never had anything come in other than some small FedEx packages with mail. I'm pretty sure both UPS and FedEx will deliver there too and then their customs agents can bring it through--at least I think so. Might be worth contacting UPS over in Panama City. Maybe some cruiser over in Panama City will post and let you know the current situation.
Thanks! We will check with Capt. Jack direct tomorrow. I called FedEx International today and they could get it to the PTY airport, buy unless it was documents only(mail), they indicated a customs agent was required to clear in. This shipment is like 15 lbs, all small stuff. Amerijet can get it here very reasonably, much less than FedEx, but getting it released seems to be the hard part. Same as FedEx and probably UPS, DHL or the other air freight carriers.
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Old 13-03-2013, 19:04   #26
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Re: Panama Experience Welcome...

Know of anybody flying down that would put it in their suitcase? How's the swell in the anchorage?
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Old 13-03-2013, 19:09   #27
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Thanks! We will check with Capt. Jack direct tomorrow. I called FedEx International today and they could get it to the PTY airport, buy unless it was documents only(mail), they indicated a customs agent was required to clear in. This shipment is like 15 lbs, all small stuff. Amerijet can get it here very reasonably, much less than FedEx, but getting it released seems to be the hard part. Same as FedEx and probably UPS, DHL or the other air freight carriers.
That is why you should have ordered it from Marine Warehouse they take care of everything and deliver to your boat.

p.s. transit waiting time is now under a week so hardly worth leaving and coming back. Also, there normally is room in the marina; boats come and go without reservations all the time. It was very busy a couple weeks ago because the Oyster World Rally dropped in.

In Portobelo it is nice to explore the rivers with your dinghy. Opposite the town you can get past the mud flats and onto two nice rivers. Take care of the prop of the outboard not hitting anything and remember there are crocodiles, monkeys that can jump in your dinghy when you display something they want, plus there are jumping stingrays around the mud flats.
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Old 13-03-2013, 20:27   #28
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Know of anybody flying down that would put it in their suitcase? How's the swell in the anchorage?
Anchorage even near town is OK right now. Maybe, we have a friend in the states with a boat at Turtle coming back early April, but that's after we wanted to be in San Andreas....
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Old 13-03-2013, 20:36   #29
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That is why you should have ordered it from Marine Warehouse they take care of everything and deliver to your boat.

p.s. transit waiting time is now under a week so hardly worth leaving and coming back. Also, there normally is room in the marina; boats come and go without reservations all the time. It was very busy a couple weeks ago because the Oyster World Rally dropped in.

In Portobelo it is nice to explore the rivers with your dinghy. Opposite the town you can get past the mud flats and onto two nice rivers. Take care of the prop of the outboard not hitting anything and remember there are crocodiles, monkeys that can jump in your dinghy when you display something they want, plus there are jumping stingrays around the mud flats.
I may have screwed up there. But there were like 8 small orders from China, Bulgaria, and Vancouver, not to mention a couple small USA guys too.

We are going north, not west so have no burning desire to go to Colon area unless we have to, but may need to just to get a Zarpe north. I really like Panama, but I miss the Eastern Caribbean officialdom, it was much easier to work with!

We will have to try the rivers. Fed the monkeys on Isla Linton and saw the camel. Even heard what sounded like a dinosaur in the mornings there on the mainland. Travelled one of the rivers several miles upstream in the San Blas, lots of birds, but spotted no crocs or monos... Thanks for the tip!
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Old 13-03-2013, 21:38   #30
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Re: Panama Experience Welcome...

Be very careful what you carry in yor suitcase. Your case is xrayed in PTY. I took parts on Thursday and was stopped. Vessel in transit" did not cut it. Not much more to say about it online except I would not try it again. It was a full suitcase of high value parts , electronics, underwater lights ,hydraulic steering pumps.


On the other note shelter bay is very safe you have to pass a security gate and the guards are carrying M16s. We shop in colon in the day and eat there some evenings around the cruise dock area. There are a Panamanian army checkpoints throughout the city center. Would not suggest walking around colon after dark but you will be ok if you are prudent.

My boat is in Shelter bay and my friend has been moored there for 4 years

Regards
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