Originally Posted by DSteve
A crew of 6 Spanish speakers with very little open ocean experience is planning a trans Panama
voyage beginning in San Diego
and ending in Florida
that will last between 6-12 months. We are currently in the market for a 37-45 foot vessel and we have a list of questions. So if you are so inclined feel free to answer as many of the questions as you want, just help us out by specifying which question you are answering. Thanks a ton!
1.Favorite Ports enroute
3.Which spare parts
are necessities for this length of a trip?
4.Panama canal tips ($, legal red tape
5.What regular maintenance
will need to be done? How often?
6.How close to shore should we sail?
7.How to avoid petty theft
8.What is the safest way to dock
? (Moorings, Marinas
9. Would we be comfortable with 6 guys on that size boat
Ok, here goes...
are great, as is La Paz
, Puerto Vallarta
, the entire coast between Vallarta and Huatulco with a couple exceptions (Acapulco and Lazaro Cardenas-a commercial
port), Many of the rivers in Panama are really spectacular if you really want to get away from it all. San Blas islands (of course), Cartagena
, just to give some highlights.
2. Acapulco, Guatemala
, Puntarenas, Cartagena
has had some incidents, but still worth going. The Nicaragua
coast is pretty lawless, most of Honduras
outside the Bay Islands I would personally avoid.
3. You should have spares to be able to fix critical systems on the boat. This will depend on how complex the boat is, but at a minimum you want to be sure that you will be able to keep the engine
going, the batteries charging
, the fuel
clean, and the boat steering
. Make sure your sails
are up to the task. There are many books
on the subject. Maybe start with Nigel Calder. He has very good info.
4. We've been through the canal a few times. I have used an agent the last 2 times. It's a lot quicker. I think that altogether it cost about $3000 to get through last year, including visas, cruising permit
5. Oil change
every 100 hours. Fuel
filters changed as needed. Winches greased, steering
pumps all working, Again, it's sort of like the spares thing. You have to maintain the gear
that you have. How much gear
will you have? That will all need to be taken care of properly. If there are 6 of you, and at least a couple are mechanically inclined, and you're actively staying on top of things, you should have no problem.
is safer. For longer trips (as in multi-day), I tend to stay somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 miles off. This keeps you inside the deep sea shipping
for the most part, but outside the local traffic. One exception is the gulf of Tehuantepec. You will want to be very close to shore there for reasons that will become clear from other cruisers by the time you make it that far.
7. Keep the deck
clear of valuable gear to the extent possible. Lift
out of the water
at night. Lock the boat when you are away. Don't wear expensive watches or jewelry on shore. Don't make yourself a target. It's all common sense.
8. There are not that many moorings on your route
. Marinas are very plentiful in Mexico
, less so further south. In Costa Rica
and the Pacific side of Panama, they are very expensive. The Caribbean
side of Panama is cheaper, (Shelter Bay and Bocas, for example). You should have at least 2 good anchors, and 2 rodes for them. I would suggest all chain on one at least. You will anchor
I think that 6 guys on a mid-40' boat is awfully tight. Only you can answer that for yourselves. Why don't you all rent a small RV for a week and stuff into it and see how it goes? For my part, we feel crowded with more than 3 on our 55 footer, so everyone has their own tolerance for that.
Good luck and good sailing.