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Old 21-04-2013, 17:51   #46
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Lower rates of course would be nice but we dont plan to be there for more than a few days.
Indeed. You can make the stiff rates work for you when you limit your stay and take full advantage of the facilities.

p.s. there are more very nice anchorages between Colon and Porvenir; check out Portobelo, Isla Linton, and Isla Grande. Use the Bauhaus guide.
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Old 21-04-2013, 18:27   #47
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Re: Panama Experience Welcome...

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Lower rates of course would be nice but we dont plan to be there for more than a few days.
We didn't plan to be there for more than a few days either, but the Canal Authority had other plans! In the result, we were only there for a week, but the much lower daily marina rates were well worth the trouble of a visit to the office to secure the refund.
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Old 21-04-2013, 19:30   #48
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...
p.s. there are more very nice anchorages between Colon and Porvenir; check out Portobelo, Isla Linton, and Isla Grande. Use the Bauhaus guide.
Yes, I have Bauhaus' excellent guide and we plan to at least stop in Portobelo on the way.
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Old 21-04-2013, 19:34   #49
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We didn't plan to be there for more than a few days either, but the Canal Authority had other plans! In the result, we were only there for a week, but the much lower daily marina rates were well worth the trouble of a visit to the office to secure the refund.
Well...boats and plans...I did not plan to be here in Bocas Marina for a month either!

We are not transiting so our "plan" is to just to stop over in SB. Have a friend coming in on May 3 so maybe wait for him there depending on timing.
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Old 21-04-2013, 19:35   #50
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Re: Panama Experience Welcome...

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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.
It all sounds somewhat exciting! Are there any poisonous frogs? I won't put up with poisonous frogs!
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Old 21-04-2013, 19:44   #51
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It all sounds somewhat exciting! Are there any poisonous frogs? I won't put up with poisonous frogs!
Well Panama could be a challenge for you then...loads of cool frogs here...but of course not all of them poisonous.
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Old 21-04-2013, 19:51   #52
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It all sounds somewhat exciting! Are there any poisonous frogs? I won't put up with poisonous frogs!
Actually, the poison dart frog is in Panama, but not in Colon province :thumbs: they have plenty less poisonous frogs and snakes though... we have a car here and rushed a local kid to hospital with a snake bite yesterday. Remember that the jungle is their home; don't wander off the paths into the brush. Mamba's and Cobra's are not here... that was the good news
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Old 12-05-2013, 19:18   #53
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Panama Weather

We are much later in the season than we planned and still in Bocas. The plan is to work our way over to the San Blas soon. A couple of weather related questions:

As we move East is there much local variation in the weather?

In which month does squall activity tend to increase?

Other weather considerations?
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Old 12-05-2013, 19:29   #54
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Panama Weather

We are much later in the season than we planned and still in Bocas. The plan is to work our way over to the San Blas soon. A couple of weather related questions:

As we move East is there much local variation in the weather?

In which month does squall activity tend to increase?

Other weather considerations?
Turn of the seasons tend to get the most rain. Squalls in high summer plus when the ITCZ comes for a visit. There are always a couple lightning strikes but it is nowhere as bad as south Florida so no worries really.

Going from place to place makes a difference. Bocas is wet. Colon is dry. Portobelo is wet. In the San Blas, the Cayos Holandes are driest because they are furthest off shore. But it is great anywhere east of there regardless of rain. The problem is that the water becomes muddy so you can't see reefs now and then. We sometimes just wait a day or we go slow and with Bauhaus charts on instruments. When you've been somewhere before it's easy, especially when you've saved your previous tracks. Every year boats go onto reefs so don't let discipline slip.

Are you going to visit Shelter Bay Marina?
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Old 12-05-2013, 19:31   #55
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Re: Panama Experience Welcome...

We experienced frequent thunderstorm activity beginning in late May, early June, probably peaking in July. But, not much you can do about it now unless you plan on heading back north before hurricane season gets going. I think Portobello claims to be the rainiest place in the Western Hemisphere, or something like that, and when we were near there it rained continuously non-stop for more than 24 hours straight--I'm talking about the kind of rain that filled the inflatable every couple of hours. From Colon east to the San Blas is a very wet area, and then the San Blas are a bit drier. Bocas del Toro is probably wetter than the San Blas and Colon, but not as wet as the Portobello area. The biggest problem you will find is the lightning--the San Blas seem to be the worst for that, though I don't think the overall strength and severity of the thunderstorms is as bad as Florida or the Chesapeake--but plenty of lightning. A lot of boats get struck in the San Blas. We spent the entire rainy season between where you are and the San Blas, and it was hot, rainy at times, but also very fun and interesting. Actually, the worst part are the sometimes calms that allow the gnats to reach your boat out in the anchorages--you will learn to anchor well away from any vegetated islands upwind. Also, in the San Blas, be prepared for the chocosana winds that occasionally strike. I'm not sure what triggers them, but if you feel a sudden coolness in the air, and the wind begins to shift from the mountains ashore, prepare for the fast arrival of 50-60 knots of cold wind or worse from that direction. It is some sort of event that triggers a pool of cold air to rush down the mountains and out over the San Blas--the nearer to the coast you are the more likely you'll get hit.
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Old 12-05-2013, 20:26   #56
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Thanks for the info. Raining in Bocas all day today. I live on the Rio Dulce so dont mind the rain so much but could of course live w out lightining and big winds (done enough of that).

Plan to be here for a few more months and then park the boat somewhere and drive back to Guate.

I expect we will visit Shelter Bay at some point.

Maybe we should push on over to the San Blas before it gets much later and then spend some more time in the anchorages between there and Colon on the way back. Sound like a plan?
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Old 13-05-2013, 03:41   #57
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Thanks for the info. Raining in Bocas all day today. I live on the Rio Dulce so dont mind the rain so much but could of course live w out lightining and big winds (done enough of that).

Plan to be here for a few more months and then park the boat somewhere and drive back to Guate.

I expect we will visit Shelter Bay at some point.

Maybe we should push on over to the San Blas before it gets much later and then spend some more time in the anchorages between there and Colon on the way back. Sound like a plan?
Getting out of there is a good plan yes. We're having beaautiful days here in Colon, not a drop of rain. Check out to get your zarpe for Porvenir and head to the San Blas. If you arrive late in the day then anchor in Chichime for the night and move to Porvenir for check-in the next morning. Either way, you prolly only want to spent as much time as needed there in Porvenir.

Get all the way east to Isla Pinos a.s.a.p. and then work your way back. The East Holandes is the driest so end there to rest. I would not skip Snug Harbor and another couple places close to the main land, but stay in the outer islands for most the rest of the time.

Your "drive back" is that with public transport? It will take a bit of time... Also we once wanted to take our car over the border into Costa Rica but it was too much hassle with bureaucrats so. i don't think a rental car will work...
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Old 13-05-2013, 05:38   #58
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Re: Panama Experience Welcome...

People seem to worry much more about lightning in Panama and the San Blas than they do in Florida, but I don't think it is any worse. It is a bit hard to make out, but this map seems to show more lightning in Florida. I think it might have to do with the very low nature of the San Blas islands and how exposed you feel out there with your aluminum stick being the highest thing around for miles.
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Old 13-05-2013, 05:40   #59
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People seem to worry much more about lightning in Panama and the San Blas than they do in Florida, but I don't think it is any worse. It is a bit hard to make out, but this map seems to show more lightning in Florida. I think it might have to do with the very low nature of the San Blas islands and how exposed you feel out there with your aluminum stick being the highest thing around for miles.
Yes, it is much worse in Florida. Biscayne Bay, this time of year, people die as a result of violent thunder squalls. They did in 2003 when I was there. We were the only boat that didn't drag anchor then, the rest still remembers us that way
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Old 13-05-2013, 05:47   #60
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Re: Panama Experience Welcome...

You don't get tornadoes in the San Blas either, which can be fun in Florida and the Chesapeake. People drag anchor in the San Blas too--there are some places with less than great holding, and sometimes they are pretty deep with not enough room to put out enough scope. Just like in any thundersquall area, don't just drop the hook thinking all is calm and wonderful, because very shortly you could be seeing 50 knots. Anchor expecting the worst, and most times you will be disappointed and the worst of the storms will miss you. We did anchor a bit more defensively than usual during the rainy season. IMHO, the weather is ideal for the San Blas in January-February, if you are around then. Much drier, a bit more breeze to keep things cool and make for nicer sailing, and less bugs.
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