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Old 15-06-2014, 07:44   #1
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Cartagena vs. Rio Dulce

We are planning a haulout with minor cosmetic refit: gelcoat repairs (perhaps entire topsides), minor fiberglass work, carpentry, etc. Wondering, based on actual experience, whether to prefer Cartagena, Colombia or Rio Dulce, Guatemala. Let me know your preferences. We are in Panama now and can make it to either.
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Old 15-06-2014, 20:30   #2
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Re: Cartagena vs. Rio Dulce

Been considering the same thing. Ironic to find myself here in Panama around significant refit time after living on the Rio for years. Not yet been to Cartagena.

Re the Rio, I can answer that part you: great place for boat work, two good yards (a third in progress), wide range of skills available at relatively low rates, easy importation of parts/supplies and a reasonable selection of such locally. Competition has ironically driven yard rates up, not down, but still reasonable. Good marinas, which seems to be lacking in Cartagena (and the anchorage sounds like it sux). No worries about hurricanes once inside the Rio. Beautiful place, great inland travel options.

If you do chose the Rio then let me know and I can recommend specific individuals/businesses.

Boat is in Panama now, so much closer to go to Cartagena. Also no worries about hurricanes on that route in the summer. Doing some work myself first (engines, hydraulics, etc), importing some parts/supplies (easy and relatively inexpensive in Panama), and then on to Cartagena for more labor intensive work like carpentry and fiberglass. Part of our motivation is that we have not been to Cartagena yet, plenty here who have though who can contribute.
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Old 16-06-2014, 07:22   #3
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Re: Cartagena vs. Rio Dulce

The issue will be the size of your boat.

There is only one yard in Cartagena that can pull you. They do good work there for all of the stuff you want done, and the prices are very reasonable. However, that yard is far away from things and you may be living on your boat. They were supposed to build apartments in the facilities, but I don't know if that has happened yet. Importing anything into Colombia is very difficult, and their local marine supplies are very limited. They will have gelcoat (unknown quality), resin (unknown quality) and low-tech fiber like CSM and woven roving. They also have wood like mahogany and teak. You will need to bring anything else with you and hope you don't get caught short on something unexpected.

In the Rio, there are only two yards that can haul you. It is very easy to ship things into the Rio and gelcoat, poly and epoxy resins and CSM/roving is readily available in several places. The gelcoat is not high quality finish gelcoat, but acceptable if you are doing the entire boat. Biaxial fiber, Nidacore and finish gelcoat is sold by the West Marine store there. There are many sources of marine supplies and, again, anything at all can be easily shipped in.

One of the yards is in the process of being built, but their trailer and haulout is operational. Right now this is a DIY place. You will need to hire the workers yourself and supply all materials. There are both freelance skilled technical workers and "grunt" (sanding, etc) workers available at good prices. Electrical and water connections are limited, but available, and increasing rapidly.

The other yard is a full-work yard that has skilled workers hired by it. Often times, however, hauling a boat your size ties up their rail system and they may charge dearly for that if you need to be out a long time. They may have a way to move you around so that isn't a problem, but belizesailor can speak to that better than I can.

If you need to stay in an apartment while work is being done, then Cartagena has higher quality choices, but you will be very far away from your boat and require a (relatively) expensive taxi to go back and forth. Fronteras has less fancy options, but you will pretty much be within walking distance of the boat, or at the most a very short 75 cent tuk-tuk ride away. You may be able to make a lodging deal with some of the resorts there with fancier accommodations.

BTW, there is currently a Switch 51 in the Rio which has been there for a while now and is having some rigging and other work done. You may wish to contact them about it. The name of the boat is "Zia", but I don't have their contact info.

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Old 16-06-2014, 07:29   #4
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Re: Cartagena vs. Rio Dulce

If I can ask...

If you are in Panama right now.

And hurricane season is near

Why not stay in Panama and have your work done there?

Thanks for your patience, I honestly do not know.
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Old 16-06-2014, 18:37   #5
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Re: Cartagena vs. Rio Dulce

Abel's now has an 85 ton travel lift. That would make 2 travel lifts, one trailer and the rail way in the Rio.
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Old 16-06-2014, 18:49   #6
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Re: Cartagena vs. Rio Dulce

For clarity, do you mean that the two travel lifts and rail way are in Abels? The travel lift in Ram will not handle them because of width. That 85 ton lift sounds impressive! I assume that the well there is also wide enough for their boat?

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Old 16-06-2014, 18:55   #7
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Re: Cartagena vs. Rio Dulce

Anything less than 150t is seldom wide enough. KSanders, for all the boats that pass through Panama, it is woefully short on qualified yards and skilled workers. Mark, thanks bfor the info-very helpful. I know Peter on Zia. In fact, he and I organized an informal forum for Switch 51 owners. About 8 of the 13 boats participate. I am currently leaning toward Ferroalquimar in Cartagena, but still open.

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Old 16-06-2014, 19:50   #8
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Re: Cartagena vs. Rio Dulce

Quote:
Originally Posted by colemj View Post

The issue will be the size of your boat.

....

[Abels] The other yard is a full-work yard that has skilled workers hired by it. Often times, however, hauling a boat your size ties up their rail system and they may charge dearly for that if you need to be out a long time. They may have a way to move you around so that isn't a problem, but belizesailor can speak to that better than I can.

If you need to stay in an apartment while work is being done, then Cartagena has higher quality choices, but you will be very far away from your boat and require a (relatively) expensive taxi to go back and forth. Fronteras has less fancy options, but you will pretty much be within walking distance of the boat, or at the most a very short 75 cent tuk-tuk ride away. You may be able to make a lodging deal with some of the resorts there with fancier accommodations.
...

Mark
Abels. Once your are on the ways at Abels, that's it. No way to move around that does not involve splashing and hauling again, but since young Abel has taken over they have added a travel lift (don't know max beam) and storage rates have gone up...the good ol days of cheap yard work at Abels are gone, but they are a good yard and still much less expensive than USA yards. Their railways can certainly handle a Switch and bigger....BUT: you have to get under the bridge and lower hanging powerlines (high tension lines) to get there (and again to get out), that can be a bit tense on a bigger cat especially if a strong current is running under the brige which it usually is. You have to carefully crab your way across the current between the bridge and the power lines while very close to shore...would be a REALLY bad time to lose an engine or foul a prop. Friend of mine hit the power lines once...no one died, but it was exciting. Some bigger cats have chosen not to go to Abels because of this.

There are some decent places to stay in San Filipe close Abels. And, Tortugal or Hotel Kangaroo are reasonable dinghy runs to Abels or Fronteras.

Nana Juana (the new yard in progress mentioned). Their trailer can haul you and they are downstream of the bridge/power lines. Have a friend with a Shuttleworth 65' (thats never going under the bridge again) who was scheduled to be hauled there. Don't know if he did, but the numbers worked.

RAM Marine. First class, well equipped yard. Don't know whether their lift can haul you but check the numbers. Zia was there for a while, but don't know whether they were hauled. Also downstream of the bridge.

Good summary on Noonsite with contact info, link below.

http://www.noonsite.com/Countries/Gu...pairFacilities

Info on most yards/services/marinas/etc also available at:

www.riodulcechisme.com

There is a new ship yard in Roatan which could accommodate you too, but the Rio is very hard to beat. If we had been to Cartagena before, then I expect we would be headed back home to the Rio for a refit (after hurricane season).
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Old 16-06-2014, 20:08   #9
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Re: Cartagena vs. Rio Dulce

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Originally Posted by ksanders View Post
If I can ask...

If you are in Panama right now.

And hurricane season is near

Why not stay in Panama and have your work done there?

Thanks for your patience, I honestly do not know.
Only one yard on the Atlantic side which can haul a cat and they are spendy (Shelter Bay). Skilled labor is limited and rates are higher (for example, good diesel Mechanic on Rio about $25 per bour, Panama $45 or more). Importation of parts and supplies is easy though, so its not uncommon for boats to import materials here and then head over to Cartagena for work (no worries about hurricanes there either). Thats my plan.

So, for skilled labor intensive work, the Rio is easier and cheaper.
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Old 16-06-2014, 20:25   #10
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Re: Cartagena vs. Rio Dulce

Out of curiosity, for non Americans, are there any yards in Cuba?
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Old 16-06-2014, 20:50   #11
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Re: Cartagena vs. Rio Dulce

Just looked up beam for Switch 51, about 25.3'. If that's correct then your options on the Rio are the ways at Abels or Nana Juana's trailer. Neither travel lift is wide enough.
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Old 16-06-2014, 21:01   #12
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Re: Cartagena vs. Rio Dulce

Quote:
Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
Only one yard on the Atlantic side which can haul a cat and they are spendy (Shelter Bay). Skilled labor is limited and rates are higher (for example, good diesel Mechanic on Rio about $25 per bour, Panama $45 or more). Importation of parts and supplies is easy though, so its not uncommon for boats to import materials here and then head over to Cartagena for work (no worries about hurricanes there either). Thats my plan.

So, for skilled labor intensive work, the Rio is easier and cheaper.
Thanks very much!
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Old 16-06-2014, 21:02   #13
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Re: Cartagena vs. Rio Dulce

New travel lift in Almirante (nr. Bocas) but not wide enough for big cats...get number off R. Dulce Vindicator home pg.
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Old 16-06-2014, 22:06   #14
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Re: Cartagena vs. Rio Dulce

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Originally Posted by sageofsalem View Post
New travel lift in Almirante (nr. Bocas) but not wide enough for big cats...get number off R. Dulce Vindicator home pg.
Their lift is only 20′ beam.

http://www.bocasboatyard.com/

Just remembered that PanaMarina has a trailer now, but I'm a bit skeptical of that option. Anyone hauled there?
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Old 17-06-2014, 07:57   #15
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Re: Cartagena vs. Rio Dulce

Haven't heard of anyone hauling yet at Panamarina, but that place is pretty isolated. Nowhere to stay off the boat and a long trip to supplies.

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