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Old 04-04-2015, 10:27   #1
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San Blas Panama Wrecks

We waited a l-o-n-g time for a weather window to return to the San Blas this season. We were a bit surpirsed to see several recent wrecks just around Porvenir (and later one in the Lemmons). Ive heard there have been about 6 vessels lost recently, but don't know the details.

Anyone know the stories of any of these loses?
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Old 16-04-2015, 07:30   #2
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Re: San Blas Panama Wrecks

Found the story of one. These accounts are always painful to read...like watching a bad horror movie where the characters unerringly make obviously bad decisions drawing them closer to a bad end.

https://sanctuarycruising.wordpress....ge-of-firefly/
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Old 16-04-2015, 07:46   #3
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Re: San Blas Panama Wrecks

I was just informed that there was another brick up in Porvenier the other day. That makes another two wrecks since that linked blog entry was made.

One thing I noticed on that link was the Garmin charts issue. I just compared CMap, Navionics, Bauhaus (the only accurate charts) and Garmin charts for the San Blas area.

CMap and Navionics were off by a bit in many areas, but were close enough in accuracy so that eyeballs and basic skills allow them to be useful.

The Garmin charts, on the other hand, are WAY off. Using them, one could easily hit large submerged reefs in poor light or conditions because those reefs are charted so far out of place that one may not realize they are even near a danger area.

People coming to the San Blas should be aware that they should not rely even generally on Garmin charts for this area.

Mark
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Old 16-04-2015, 08:15   #4
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Re: San Blas Panama Wrecks

Quote:
Originally Posted by colemj View Post
...

People coming to the San Blas should be aware that they should not rely even generally on Garmin charts for this area.

Mark
...or any other single source of navigation information...basic prudent seamanship.

Ive got Navionics, CMAP, and digitized versions of Bauhaus aboard (plus a paper copy of his guide). Both Navionics and CMAP I find off to varying degrees in different places. For example, on the far eastern San Blas Navionics is WAY off and lacks even basically correct detail in many areas. CMAP is better there (and seems generally better in most of the San Blas). Navionics had me anchored ashore in the Western Holandaes (...no worries about dragging at least).

Bauhaus is of course by far the most accurate. No one should show up here without it (mistake #1).

Good light and vigilant eyeball navigation are also critical. So its important to plan entrances here with plenty of day light remaining and with the angle of that light in mind. Porvenir is an easy entrance with good light and a depth sounder.

Recently when making a longish run thru the W San Blas I had CMAP and Bauhaus running along with eyeball nav. Attending to all three kept me busy, but also kept me vigilant.

We noticed several new (to us) wrecks near Porvenir on our approach in late March. There is also a big dismasted motorsailor parked on a shoal in the West Lemmons which is new since last season.
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Old 16-04-2015, 08:46   #5
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Re: San Blas Panama Wrecks

Mark, et al,
-- Just curious if these charting inaccuracies that you all mention are similar to the ones we see in the Bahamas??
-- In that the soundings / shoals / reefs, etc. might be accurate, referenced to the land / islands / coastlines....but based on GPS positions are inaccurately charted??
-- And, are many of the land masses / island shorelines, also inaccurate referenced to GPS positions???



Quote:
Originally Posted by colemj View Post
CMap and Navionics were off by a bit in many areas, but were close enough in accuracy so that eyeballs and basic skills allow them to be useful.

The Garmin charts, on the other hand, are WAY off. Using them, one could easily hit large submerged reefs in poor light or conditions because those reefs are charted so far out of place that one may not realize they are even near a danger area.
Are they charted out-of-place, based on GPS position??
But, are correctly charted (or fairly close), based on reference to the land / island / coastline??
(Or both??)
Again, just curious....

Because, many years ago (decades before GPS), in the Bahamas, we used the charts we had, and based our position on the water depth, our DR plots, and coastal piloting / based on range and bearing from land / coastlines, etc....
But, in the last 20 years, I've seen many comment on chart issues in the Bahamas....but it is usually just that the positions of the reefs / shoals, etc. are out-of-place compared to their actual GPS position, but they are correctly charted when compared to distance off the island or distance between, etc....

So, just wondering if these San Blas chart issues are the same as we have in the Bahamas??


Thanks!

John
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Old 16-04-2015, 09:25   #6
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Re: San Blas Panama Wrecks

The only time I rely on a electronic chart is when I have been through the area before without issue and showed accurate, other then that its just an general aid and old fashioned navigation skills apply.
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Old 16-04-2015, 09:33   #7
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Re: San Blas Panama Wrecks

The Garmin charts will put you aground in the Turks and Caicos if you rely upon them. Wavey Line here. Explorer in the Bahamas. And it sounds like I'll be buying Bauhaus when we head west.
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Old 16-04-2015, 11:53   #8
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Re: San Blas Panama Wrecks

Quote:
Originally Posted by ka4wja View Post
Mark, et al,
-- Just curious if these charting inaccuracies that you all mention are similar to the ones we see in the Bahamas??
-- In that the soundings / shoals / reefs, etc. might be accurate, referenced to the land / islands / coastlines....but based on GPS positions are inaccurately charted??
-- And, are many of the land masses / island shorelines, also inaccurate referenced to GPS positions???

...
Haven't analysed in detail, but some of the Navionics areas of coverage in the W San Blas seem to be shifted in some direction versus their actual position, but not all, some are much more accurately plotted and positioned than others. So, similar to what you are describing in some cases. West Holandaes for example are shifted S, but are roughly correctly depicted.

However, they also miss a lot of detail on shoals with some incorrectly plotted in terms of size & shape and in the wrong place. See approach to Sabudupored in the Green Island group for an example. They show a long shoal extending across the preferred entrance...which is actually between two shoals, but totally omit an extended shoal area that extends South from here. Maybe it all equals out in terms of shoal area plotted? ;-)

In much of the E San Blas, Navionics isn't even close, totally omitting basic detail in many cases...see the area around Sapzuro, Colombia for example...even a cursory Google Earth comparison shows they basically omitted most of the bay and plotted it as land (CMAP gets it much closer). Just West of there, in far eastern San Blas, there are big swaths of omitted detail.

Like Explorer Charts for the Bahamas, Bauhaus gets it right. I've yet to find anywhere in the San Blas, or the rest of Panama, where he is not dead bang accurate.

Why can one guy get this so right and multiple companies who are in this business get it so wrong? And why do people not know this?
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Old 16-04-2015, 12:24   #9
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Re: San Blas Panama Wrecks

Quote:
Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
Like Explorer Charts for the Bahamas, Bauhaus gets it right. I've yet to find anywhere in the San Blas, or the rest of Panama, where he is not dead bang accurate.
I've found two places in the Eastern SB where he gets it very wrong - one is a plotted route through shoals that takes you straight over an uncharted shoal, and the other is a charted shoal that doesn't exist. I have given him the correct information, so it may have been changed in his latest edition.

The other area I know of is an uncharted rock in the Perlas Islands in Pacific Panama. Another CF member charted that one with his dagger board...

Quote:
Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
Why can one guy get this so right and multiple companies who are in this business get it so wrong? And why do people not know this?
Like the Lewis's did with Explorer charts in the Bahamas, Bauhaus performed an actual methodical and systematic survey over several years. The others are basing their commercial charts on the paper charts from the 1800's and some sparse newer surveys around shipping channels through some of the more populated area.

What I don't understand is why Bauhaus doesn't license his electronic data. Many of us make our own electronic charts from his paper guide book charts, and these work fantastically with OCPN, SeaIQ, Coastal Explorer and other computer charting programs. I would certainly pay for commercial versions of his charts from CMAP, Navionics and the like - the same as I paid for his book and the same I pay for electronic Explorer charts.

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Old 16-04-2015, 14:25   #10
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Re: San Blas Panama Wrecks

Quote:
Originally Posted by colemj View Post
I've found two places in the Eastern SB where he gets it very wrong - one is a plotted route through shoals that takes you straight over an uncharted shoal, and the other is a charted shoal that doesn't exist. I have given him the correct information, so it may have been changed in his latest edition.

The other area I know of is an uncharted rock in the Perlas Islands in Pacific Panama. Another CF member charted that one with his dagger board...
...

What I don't understand is why Bauhaus doesn't license his electronic data. Many of us make our own electronic charts from his paper guide book charts, and these work fantastically with OCPN, SeaIQ, Coastal Explorer and other computer charting programs. I would certainly pay for commercial versions of his charts from CMAP, Navionics and the like - the same as I paid for his book and the same I pay for electronic Explorer charts.

Mark
Do you have waypoints for those errors? How deep is the uncharted shoal?

Neko confirmed that sounding near Las Perlas I assume? ;-)

+1 on liscencing, or at least making available, his data. In his case, since he used lots of electronic methods to create it, that should be especially easy to do. Don't understand why more cruising guide publishers don't do this, concerns over liability maybe, would be a great additional revenue stream for them and very handy for us cruisers. I run digitized versions from his 4th addition on my tablet & CMAP on my chart plotter.

I see there is a 5th addition of Bauhaus now. Anyone used it yet?
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Old 16-04-2015, 15:40   #11
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Re: San Blas Panama Wrecks

The reef is in the passage between Achutupu and Mamitupu and is directly under Bauhaus's waypoint #7-56-3 at 09 11.741N; 77 59.803W. It is shallow enough to be of concern - 4-5' deep? If you are using these waypoints, just stay to the NE of this one and you are OK.

I forget where the reef that is charted, but missing in reality, is but it is in the same area - I would need to look in our log for it. However, it isn't really an issue since the waypoints and routes there lead you "around" it. The worse that could happen is that you wander off the route and don't run aground.

Yes, Neko was the one helping Bauhaus update his new edition.

I just looked at the 5th addition earlier today for a short time. It is thicker than the 4th edition, and seems to have a lot more aerial photos - many of them quite good ones from good angles that better show the islands in perspective with each other than the previous edition photos. I didn't see much difference in the charts themselves, but that is difficult to determine without a painstaking comparison. I only glanced through the San Blas charts, so there may be significant changes to other areas of Panama.

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Old 16-04-2015, 16:40   #12
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Re: San Blas Panama Wrecks

Quote:
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The other area I know of is an uncharted rock in the Perlas Islands in Pacific Panama. Another CF member charted that one with his daggerboard
This rock now appears in the 5th edition, accurately charted near Isla San Telmo, and is named after the offending boat.
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Old 16-04-2015, 17:12   #13
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Re: San Blas Panama Wrecks

I think the wrecks in the San Blas are due mainly to the lack of experience, and sometimes over-confidence, of the skippers. For many cruisers, especially those that have not cruised the Bahamas, this is the first time that they have had to truly do reef piloting. At the right time of day and right weather, the reefs in the San Blas are pretty easy to read. Push your luck as the sun gets low in the sky, or the cloud cover of a squall shows up, and it is pretty easy to make a fatal mistake. Also, many boats that are just showing up don't realize how narrow the safe water areas are in the Bauhuas guides.
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Old 16-04-2015, 18:34   #14
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Re: San Blas Panama Wrecks

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Originally Posted by SVNeko View Post
This rock now appears in the 5th edition, accurately charted near Isla San Telmo, and is named after the offending boat.
Ha, cool ! I'm gonna have to look that one up.

I hope to end my sailing career with no nav hazards named after me! ;-)
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Old 16-04-2015, 18:42   #15
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Re: San Blas Panama Wrecks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul L View Post
... Push your luck as the sun gets low in the sky, or the cloud cover of a squall shows up, and it is pretty easy to make a fatal mistake. Also, many boats that are just showing up don't realize how narrow the safe water areas are in the Bauhuas guides.
I'm surprised at how many boats I see moving around late in the day. Would not give me a warm fuzzy & Ive been cruising the San Blas for 3 seasons now.

In Florida I used to watch boats head thru shoal areas late in the day and say "hmmm...they are either a local or a yokel and we will see which in just a few minutes". It was surprising how many boats came to a sudden stop. Of course in that area it was moslty just sandy bottom so no big deal...much higher stakes here in the San Blas.
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