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Old 14-03-2013, 00:30   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ebaugh

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?
While we were in Panama we opened an account with MBE in Colon. So much of what we bought in the USA was sent to a physical address in Florida and then a few days later turned up at MBE in Colon. They handled all the customs import bullshit, sent us an email and then we would catch a bus to pick it up or get another yachtie to pick up our stuff. That was for non-nautical items. For light stuff, there was no import charge, so don't consolidate. For marine gear, we went thru Captain Jack.

MBE Colon were excellent.
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Old 14-03-2013, 05:51   #32
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Originally Posted by Steel sails View Post
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

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Remember, Panama has no army. The US protects them. What you see is police
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Old 14-03-2013, 10:46   #33
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Re: Panama Experience Welcome...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kettlewell View Post
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.

Shipping from the US to Panama is incredibly expensive via UPS, Fed Express or DHL... Panama charges Customs fees (Not tax) that raises the charges very high.

We paid $535 US Fed Ex to ship a new alternator to Shelter Bay from the US and $190 US for a small DHL envelope with our new ATM card and a couple of pieces of mail... International Express charges are about 5% less so for example, the alternator shipped ground would have been $485 regular rates.

If you are shipping parts and have the time to wait... The best price is using a frieght forwarder, who normally ships by sea. It takes 2-3 weeks from the US to Panama.

PAKYA is a freight forwarder in Miami that a alot of the cruisers use.
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Old 14-03-2013, 11:25   #34
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Re: Panama Experience Welcome...

We've been in Panama since July now and spent quite a bit of time in Portobelo. Portobelo is a great little town, lots of history, nice harbor during the dry season (not as much swell as the wet season) and, as you've heard, Captain Jack's. There's a large El Rey grocery store in Sabanitas, a town about an hour away by bus.

We stayed at Shelter Bay for two weeks while my dad was visiting, and it's pretty expensive - $600 for two weeks. But it is safe and does have a pool. Plus, it's an easy place to get ready for the canal transit. The restaurant wasn't terrible, though be prepared for incredibly slow service. Colon itself is a bit on the rough side, and there's isn't a great anchorage, though our friends all anchored there outside the old Club Nautico and in the Rio Chagres - forgoing Shelter Bay - and had a fine time. As a previous poster said, Shelter Bay could use some competition.

On the other side, marinas are evidently super expensive. Flamenco Marina, the moorings at the Balboa Yacht Club and the little marina next to the La Playita anchorage are your options. We anchored in La Playita, which is very rolly, and the other anchorage - Las Brisas - has its own set of issues. Even though Panama City is a pretty fun town to explore, the marina/anchoring situation made you want to supply up and move out. But Isla Taboga is only a few miles away, a nice escape from the city. Oh, and we went through the Canal without an agent. Easy cheesy. Here's a link to our blog, which outlines how we did it, if you're interested.

Have fun in Panama!
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Old 21-04-2013, 07:11   #35
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A few Panama questions...

We are currently in Bocas and plan to head out toward the San Blas soon.

Chagres River. We plan to make a few stops along the way maybe including the Chagres River. I know there have been a few security problems there in the past. Any recent news or suggestions?

Paperwork. Current cruising permit expires May 18. Should I renew early here in Bocas or do that in Colon? Whats the paperwork drill along this route? Do I need to check out of Bocas and in/out at other ports along the way?
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Old 21-04-2013, 07:45   #36
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Re: Panama Experience Welcome...

Quote:
Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
A few Panama questions...

We are currently in Bocas and plan to head out toward the San Blas soon.

Chagres River. We plan to make a few stops along the way maybe including the Chagres River. I know there have been a few security problems there in the past. Any recent news or suggestions?

Paperwork. Current cruising permit expires May 18. Should I renew early here in Bocas or do that in Colon? Whats the paperwork drill along this route? Do I need to check out of Bocas and in/out at other ports along the way?
Hiya BelizeSailor,

The Chagres is currently off-limits for anchoring. It became too much bother for the coastguard to save yachties there. Yacht are still lining the reefs/beaches
Security has been limited to a gas tank taken from a dingy at a dock.

You will know about the other possible stop along the way to Colon; very exposed and all fun to stay overnight.

In Colon, come into Shelter Bay for a night, arrive early. The cost of the marina will be well offset with having the luxuries of pool, bar, restaurant, docks with electric and water (if it works... this is Panama ) plus you have the port captain on-site which is going to save you a lot of hassle. The wifi Internet is good too, great guy who put it together

Contact the marina office by phone or email to ask if the port captain will be there; if not you need to book the free morning shuttle into town to visit them there.

If you need anything, s/v Jedi is at the end of C-dock
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Old 21-04-2013, 07:48   #37
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Re: Panama Experience Welcome...

Quote:
Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
Paperwork. Current cruising permit expires May 18. Should I renew early here in Bocas or do that in Colon? Whats the paperwork drill along this route? Do I need to check out of Bocas and in/out at other ports along the way?
It will probably be easier to renew your Cruising Permit in Bocas than Colon, although it seems to be hit or miss at the Colon Office.

Panama requires a Zarpe from Port to Port, which seems to have different costs in each Port, like in Shelter Bay, where the Port Captain's Representative charges $30 for a Zarpe

Some people have gotten away without Zarpes between ports, others haven't and had to go through some silly drills. There is another thread on here, where someone crossed the Canal without a Zarpe from Shelter Bay. Panama City would not let him check in or out of the country until he drove back to Shelter Bay and straightened out the mess.

There are Port Captains and theorectical check ins at Colon, Portobello and San Blas. When we went to the San Blas, we did a Zarpe from SHelter Bay to San Blas and did not check in at Portobello, which seems to be the norm among cruisers. The Port Captain there is frequently out of town and does not check the anchored vessels, or didn't when we were there from Dec-Feb.



San Blas, the Kunas, also have a monthly cruising permit, but nobody ever checked ours and many cruisers didn't buy them.
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Old 21-04-2013, 08:12   #38
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Re: Panama Experience Welcome...

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeremiason View Post
It will probably be easier to renew your Cruising Permit in Bocas than Colon, although it seems to be hit or miss at the Colon Office.

Panama requires a Zarpe from Port to Port, which seems to have different costs in each Port, like in Shelter Bay, where the Port Captain's Representative charges $30 for a Zarpe

Some people have gotten away without Zarpes between ports, others haven't and had to go through some silly drills. There is another thread on here, where someone crossed the Canal without a Zarpe from Shelter Bay. Panama City would not let him check in or out of the country until he drove back to Shelter Bay and straightened out the mess.

There are Port Captains and theorectical check ins at Colon, Portobello and San Blas. When we went to the San Blas, we did a Zarpe from SHelter Bay to San Blas and did not check in at Portobello, which seems to be the norm among cruisers. The Port Captain there is frequently out of town and does not check the anchored vessels, or didn't when we were there from Dec-Feb.



San Blas, the Kunas, also have a monthly cruising permit, but nobody ever checked ours and many cruisers didn't buy them.
Yes, you need to get a zarpe anywhere it is possible where you stop in or around that place, just like in all Latin American countries and the phone procedure for visiting yachts in the USA.
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Old 21-04-2013, 08:24   #39
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Thanks for the info guys. Will probably see you in Shelter Bay Jedi.

Just looked at SB rates...ouch...and 50% more for a cat...even a small one like mine! Ive gotten spoiled to parking my boats on my own docks in Guate and Belize...paying for dockage again sucks!
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Old 21-04-2013, 11:11   #40
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Re: Panama Experience Welcome...

Renting a car in Colon is easy and safe and not that expensive. The drive to Panama City and the airport is not too difficult. Driving into the City for boat stuff is more difficult. Using the bus and taxi for all of this takes planning but it can be done in a day. A taxi will do almost anything from either side.
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Old 21-04-2013, 16:37   #41
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You are not allowed to anchor in Colon anymore; you have to go to the marina. Same for boats that want to transit the canal.
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Old 21-04-2013, 16:45   #42
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You are not allowed to anchor in Colon anymore; you have to go to the marina. Same for boats that want to transit the canal.
Yeah, suspected that from looking at Google Earth images...nothing but ships.
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Old 21-04-2013, 17:04   #43
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Re: Panama Experience Welcome...

We'll add to the chorus of endorsements for the Shelter Bay Marina. We spent a week there in 2011 and enjoyed both the facilities and the staff immensely. As we recall there were fairly regular public buses into Colon and in any event the taxis weren't very expensive...and the taxi drivers can be very helpful indeed in finding what you what.
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Old 21-04-2013, 17:14   #44
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Re: Panama Experience Welcome...

One further thought/suggestion...

We were offered much lower daily rates at Shelter Bay Marina if we booked for a longer term. The (very helpful!) marina manager assured us that, if we left early -- We were uncertain of our Canal entry date -- we would receive a refund...and the lower daily rate would still be applied to the days we actually stayed. We took up the offer and, sure enough, we left early...and the refund was happily paid exactly as promised, leaving us with much lower daily rates.
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Old 21-04-2013, 17:36   #45
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Lower rates of course would be nice but we dont plan to be there for more than a few days.
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