These cattle boats running backpackers pass the Darien Gap are almost all ill-equipped, poorly maintained, and captained/crewed by drunks/druggies.
Several of them each year brick up in the San Blas and the story is always the same - captain
passed out with either the boat on AP, or a guest on the wheel
who has no experience and no charts
This has nothing to do with "GPS/CP/AP-assisted wrecking". It has only to do with bad seamanship and operating an unsafe boat in an unsafe manner.
There are no "local police" and these boats operate without any licenses, permits, inspections or limitations. It is not uncommon to see a 45' catamaran
loaded with 20 people and several motorcycles strapped to the deck
There is an unlimited amount of young backpackers to fill spaces, so none of these stories have any effect on the trade
. The companies buy any cheap
boat they can and put them in service
. This captain
is probably already running another boat as I write this post.
Really, several of them are lost
this way each year. Go to that companies website and 4 of the boats they list there under charter
have already been wrecked and don't exist anymore.
I know several of them personally, and no way would I even go across a harbor with them.
Having said this, there are a couple of them that run well-found boats in a safe manner with knowledgeable crew. These generally operate independently and make only a few trips to fill the kitty and tend to be more selective regarding passengers and weather