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Old 28-07-2010, 07:20   #1
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Colon, Panama Dinghy Dock

Does anyone know where can we land with the dinghys now that the Panama Canal Yacht club has been demolished ?
If we anchor at the Flats , do we have to go all the way to Shelter Bay to get ashore?
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Old 21-08-2010, 16:36   #2
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Nothing like going there and finding out on arrival.
In case anyone is interested in the information , you can't anchor at the Flats anymore unless you're about to transit the Canal , Shelter Bay Marina is the only option. The Panama Canal Yacht Club will be missed for a very long time.
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Old 21-08-2010, 18:05   #3
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The Pedro Miguel Boat Club located in Miraflores Lake on the west end of the Pedro Migual lock will be missed also.
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Old 21-08-2010, 21:38   #4
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I would say that Shelter Bay (It used to be Fort Sherman before the US turned it back over to Panama) is your only safe bet, unless you can get near the Tarpon Club (but then you won't have any transportation unless you call a taxi to the Club) at Gatun Locks. Don't try and dinghy into Colon, it's like the Wild West there; even the Guardia Nacional travel in packs because of the rampant crime.
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Old 21-08-2010, 23:24   #5
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Any movement by you in Colon should be made via taxi, tip them to wait or accompany you while you shop.
In December of 2002 my driver had a loaded gun on the front sit. I doubt conditions have improved since then.
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Old 22-08-2010, 00:00   #6
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Club Nautico

Three options in Colon: One is anchor over by Club Nautico, on the E. side of Colon. You can not get most sailboats to their docks, and it is not roomy there, but I have seen several boats anchored in the area and you can dinghy to their docks and grab a cab. No doubt you will pay a few bucks to leave your dinghy. The canal will come over there for measurement if they know you are there.

If just doing other stuff, you can either anchor in Portobelo (1 hour by bus to Colon), or up the Chagres. I have not done the latter, but friends have and say it is not too difficult to catch a bus heading to town, and report it is beautiful. Both of these options have had crime problems at times, so take appropriate measures is leaving the boat unattended.

Personally, I think the San Blas is my favorite place I have sailed, and the rest of Panama the worst! The canal is out to drive all yachts out of their area, even violating their treaty with the US by closing the yacht clubs. Nice to be in the Pacific where everyone is glad to see you!
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Old 22-08-2010, 00:56   #7
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Three options in Colon: One is anchor over by Club Nautico, on the E. side of Colon.
Do you mean at 9° 21.820'N 79° 53.660'W ? That looks good!!!!!!! Looks like anchoring spots too

The other thing I was thinking was anchoring in the main shipping anchorage and using Colon 2000 as a dinghy wharfe. Its safe, has a supermarket. But cruise ships dont use it anymore.
9° 21.440'N 79° 53.455'W on Google earth you will see what looks like a ramp there, and other places that could be fine for the dink

Charges river is no good for getting into town. From the top anchorage its a long walk (beautiful one!) to a few buildings on the road and who knows when / if a bus would come. Most beautiful river though well worth a few days and only 8nm from Colon
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Old 22-08-2010, 01:33   #8
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Charges river is no good for getting into town. From the top anchorage its a long walk (beautiful one!) to a few buildings on the road and who knows when / if a bus would come. Most beautiful river though well worth a few days and only 8nm from Colon
Just watch out for the reefs that guard the river's mouth; plenty of vessels have foundered there going back to the 1500's when Fort San Lorenzo was an active Spanish post. Also, the mouth of the Chagres is the second most shark infested place in the world after the Great Barrier Reef. I used to go scuba lobstering (langosta) there and caught monster crusteceans because no one else would fish there (big breakers and huge undertow) and the hammerheads were 13-17 feet long.

There was a Toyota landcruiser that was pulled into the water at Task Force Blue (the landing on the Fort side of the river) trying to land a shark using its winch as a fishing line back when the area was part of Fort Sherman.

By the way, the Chagres was the first leg of the journey that gold hungry passengers had to cover in their journey to San Francisco for the Gold Rush back in the 1800s. They used the river to transit Panama before the canal to reboard clipper ships in the Pacific. A lot of them never made it because their cayugas (dugouts) overturned on the Chagres and the caiman or the sharks got them (if they weren't robbed and killed for their possessions by the natives.
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Old 22-08-2010, 01:44   #9
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Nuagambi (Kuna for "how are you") Yeah, that's the spot. There are work boats in there, but no one seemed to mind when a few yachts were there too. This time of year, probably no other yachts (it was transit season when I was there...and strong N. winds blowing, so you HAD to tuck in).

I think they would have a problem if you anchored in the other anchorages...the flats WAS the designated anchorage, but now they don't want you there unless transiting. I did a lot of bus rides from Linton and Portobelo....don't like Portobelo this time of year as it can get very uncomfortable with winds from W. And your frozen food melts going home to Linton! Good luck! Provision, and go to the San Blas...the best part of Panama by far IMO.
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Old 22-08-2010, 16:41   #10
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Originally Posted by Lobodoug View Post
Three options in Colon: One is anchor over by Club Nautico, on the E. side of Colon. You can not get most sailboats to their docks, and it is not roomy there, but I have seen several boats anchored in the area and you can dinghy to their docks and grab a cab. No doubt you will pay a few bucks to leave your dinghy. The canal will come over there for measurement if they know you are there.!
If I had had this answer when I first asked it would have saved me some running around the harbor instead of going directly to Shelter Bay .
For people who need to transit as soon as possible, the convenience of anchoring in the Flats and taking the dinghy to the yacht club will be really missed , not to mention the character of the place.
I have never read or heard someone say " Do you want to know a place in Central America where you can walk without a care day or night? THIS or THAT" . No , but lists of dangerous places full of danger reports are by the thousands and it's a recurrent topic , along piracy . Are we trying to scare each other ? Awareness is great , not being an obvious target is even better , paranoia is pretty bad. Someone out on a sailing boat sailing to foreign places should have very clear that part of common sense that tells you , for instance , that it's not a good idea to go to Colon at night. Unless you absolutely have to
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Old 22-08-2010, 23:37   #11
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"Are we trying to scare each other ? Awareness is great , not being an obvious target is even better , paranoia is pretty bad. Someone out on a sailing boat sailing to foreign places should have very clear that part of common sense that tells you , for instance , that it's not a good idea to go to Colon at night. Unless you absolutely have to"

"Just because you're paranoid does not mean they are not out to get you." (unknown)

Colon justifies Paranoia. Just a few days ago I ran into an old cruising buddy in Fiji. We met in Venezuela and Trinidad 6 years ago. He told a story of a friend walking in Colon, busy street, daylight, with his girlfriend. Someone came up, stuck him with a knife in the torso, grabbed his wallet, and fled. No warning, no threat, just stabbed him. I have cruised for 15 years, and I know more people who have been mugged in Colon than anywhere else. I walked many streets in Colon, including some kind-of bad ones. Always walked fast and knew where the last cop I saw was (usually only a few blocks away). I'm very big (albeit getting older, alas). I was never mugged, but I was warned regularly by friendly Rastas, old ladies, etc, to watch out. Colon is truly a dangerous city. Be wise. BE PARANOID! Just my opinion.

BTW, No one worries about any such stuff anywhere I have been in the S. Pacific. Solomons, up ahead, will be back to the paranoia in some places, but Fiji? No Problem!
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Old 23-08-2010, 08:34   #12
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Ok , so here´s one first hand for you: 4 years ago I was walking around in Colon , had taken the shuttle from Shelter Bay but was planning to take a taxi back. Finished my errands sooner than expected and was having lunch on the street by the bus station when I spotted the marina bus rounding a corner 2 blocks away. I took off running after it and I was called back ¨hey , hey!!!" . This guy , that looked like he would jump you if you met in the proverbial dark alley , was holding my passport and bank card that had fell from my pocket when I took off running and was bringing it back to me. My all life in those 2 documents, my career would have ended right there. Dumb luck for sure , like it´s bad dumb luck to get mugged.
I have never been mugged except in Rio , by the police because I never saw it coming , and if this one had been my only experience in Colon would I be allowed to say "The people there are awesome?" like someone who was mugged will say¨"it´s a hellish den of thieves"...?
Colon is dodgy for sure , but I still think that the fear and siege mentality steal a lot of the enjoyment people could get from their travels.

Then again , I´m not gringo and I speak the language , that makes a pretty big difference.
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Old 23-08-2010, 10:17   #13
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You were lucky ....

Tuve mucha suerte. Yo se, porque como un policia, hay muchos opportunidades aya por un asalto.

As you can see, I speak the language also even though I am a 'gringo'. As a retired cop I'll also say you were lucky. Granted, while probably ninety percent of the people in Colon are law abiding though poor, it's the sizeable ten percent that will leave you in a ditch at the roadside.

Yes, I've walked alone through the streets at night in Colon, but there's a difference, a lot of years of experience as a SWAT officer, army Ranger and Special Forces officer have given me the tools to handle the situations I confront ... not to mention the 'cop radar' that is always on.

So, no, no one's trying to scare anyone, but discretion (unless you're the meanest SOB in the valley) is the better part of valor.
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Old 23-08-2010, 11:33   #14
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, while probably ninety percent of the people in Colon are law abiding though poor, it's the sizeable ten percent that will leave you in a ditch at the roadside.

.

I beg to disagree... I would say its 99 percent good and 1 percent bad. We loved the place!
They talked up the security stuff to make a buck. The taxi drivers especially.

It was NOT safe to go from the Yacht club to the bus station as there was a hidden ditch next to the road, behind trees but overlooked by the poorest accomodaton in Colon. That ditch was lethal. But only to those that refused to pay the US$1 and take the taxi from the bus station to the yacht club... and even then only at night (with a belly full of beer).

Use taxis to get about anywhere, but walking the main market streets day time is fine imho

Also we got the best prices for clothes in the whole world in Colon so it aint all bad!


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Old 23-08-2010, 11:39   #15
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Well between the polarity of UWOA and MarkJ viewpoints (for example), the closure of the yacht club, and the bureaucracy of getting a boat through the canal $$$, I'd have to say I am totally confused at this point and might consider a Magellan Straight or Horny detour.
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