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Old 23-10-2012, 08:58   #1
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Panama Canal to Sea of Cortez?

I'm thinking of abandoning the Caribbean and I've heard the Sea of Cortez is a nice cruising ground. I have a few questions as I begin my serious research into possibly moving there.

Is it difficult/costly to maintain the required legal paperwork (permits, visas, etc.) to stay there 'permanently'?

I'm a live aboard on a fixed income. Is the 'cost of living' there reasonable? Would I be comfortable on say, $1000/mo income?

Looking at the route briefly it doesn't look like there are a lot of anchorages/places to layover between Panama and the SOC. Would it be advisable to sail it solo?

Otherwise, anyone have any advice, tips, etc. about sailing from Panama to the Sea of Cortez? Any/all info would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 23-10-2012, 09:23   #2
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Re: Panama Canal to Sea of Cortez?

i am cruising mainland mexico and living on 800 dollars per month, occasionally saving a tad of dough--is do able. all of mexico is a lovely place, gets more lovely as you head south from the dessert that is gulf of california to the lush tropical zones that are havens for cruisers--summer is less pricey here than winter, as winter is high season--winter is cruising season.
fees for legalization are not high--fm3 is the heavy hitter at 100 dollars,us, fishing license is less than 50 dollars per year....tip is whatever they rate you at, which for my formosa was under 100 dollars....tourist visa was 25 or less..insurance--liability--was 211 per year for my boat....is definitely do able. haulouts and work in san carlos/guaymas is less pricey than anywhere... have fun and good luck...
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Old 23-10-2012, 10:25   #3
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Re: Panama Canal to Sea of Cortez?

MEXICO:
We cruised Mexico from Oct 2010 to Mar 2012 and then came south to Panama City. We will be crossing the canal in about two weeks for the Caribbean.

Mexico is very cheap to cruise... there are lots of anchorages, both along the Baja and Mainland Mexico. Visas have to be renued every six months, but there is a big change to their Immigration Laws this November. Yuo can get a perment resident VISA (Former called an FM3) for about $200. See Noonsite.com for better infomration

We spent the summer of 2011 in the Sea of Cortez, traveling as far north as Puerto Penasco (40 miles from the US Border).

Typically, the cruising season is: May-Oct in the Sea of Cortez to avoid the hurricanes and the remainder of the year cruisers go south of Mazatlan for the warmer climates.

In the Sea of Cortez, many retirees spend their summers in the marinas of Mazatlan, La Paz or San Carlos. All of those cites have large Ex-Pat communities. If you want to sail, most people end up around Bahia de Los Angles (Baja California) from around mid-July to Oct, which is a good hurricane hole.

Along mainland Mexico, there are pleanty of anchorages from San Blas to Zihuatenjo. A lot of veteran Mexico cruisers get as far south as Barra Navidad and stay there for the winter.

The cruising giudes of choice for Mexico are written by Shawn and Heather Breeding. Here is their web site.

El Salvador:
El Salvador is a poor country with only a couple of good anchorages, that require crossing bars. VISA and cruising permits were less than $100. We stopped in Bahia Del Sol for the El Salvador Cruisers Rally. It required crossing a bar with a pilot on a jet ski. It was inexpensive to visit and do lands tours.

Nicgruaga:
Nicagragua, similar to El Salvador is very poor. VISA and cruising permits were less than $100. We stopped in Pueta Del Sol Marina, which is a expensive Hotel and Marina. We had a good time and the owners of the place lived on their powerboat in the marina.

Costa Rica:
Costa Rica by contrast is very tourist oriented, but don't want you to stay around long. They give a 90 day tourist VISA and a 90 Day Cruising Permit, for about $300. These are not renewable in country, you have to leave to renew them. If you exceed teh cruising permit time, you are required to place your boat in a marina with a $2500 bond. Most marinas in Costa Rica tend to charge from $2.50 to $5 per foot per day. Costa Rica does have some good anchorages nd beautiful jungles to visit. You will find a large Ex-Pat Community in Golfito. Land & Sea Service runs a small Yacht Club and only charges $8 per day for a mooring, which is the cheapest we found in Central America so far.

In Panama, you are looking at about $2000 for a canal passage of a boat less than 50 feet, cruising permit and VISA. Panama City has about 4 million people and is the largest City we have seen in our travels so far. It has everything you need for you boat and a large anchorage. Marinas are very expensive, but Balboa Yacht CLub has mooring for $29 a day for our 47 foot sailboat. There is a huge Ex Pat COmmunity here and many people living on there boats. The Perlas Island are located 35 miles southeast of here and a wonderful cruising ground to get away from the city with over 100 islands and islets in clear blue water.

Hope that helps

Good luck!
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Old 23-10-2012, 16:27   #4
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Re: Panama Canal to Sea of Cortez?

hurricanes form in pacific until mid november, on occasion. storm season ends nov 1--that is when HIGH SEASON begins, and all pricing in mainland mexico rises almost double. marinas go from 38 cents per foot per day per month, to 65 cents per foot per day per month--electricity and water are extra, so it is cheap an d easy to cruise mexico IFF you do not hang in a marina for the winter. a 40 ft cruiser will cost you about 900-1000 us dollars in monthy rents.
tiendas do not have summer vs winter pricing, so food is essentially same year round.
anchorages are free, most of them, so is a savings , there...
marina rents in gulfo de california are considerably less than on mainland mexico.
during hurrycame season, rents in mexico are reasonable. the marinas are decent and some are actually safe for summering over.
i did not like the idea of summering in golfo de california.
i continued southward, sloowly.
mazatlan is a decent summer spot,in the marinas , and banderas bay has been also good so far--but we still have one more to form, according to models.....
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