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Old 04-07-2019, 22:08   #1
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Buying a boat in Panama. Could use some advice, please.

I've come across a boat that's absolutely ideal for me at a bargain price, but it's in Panama (east side) and I need to work one more year before I go adventuring. I should perhaps just let it go and buy another boat when I'm ready, but I don't want to give up before exploring if there's a way of making this happen. Does anyone have any advice?

Storage in a boat yard has been quoted at $200/month, which is viable. However, if I arrived there and found the boat half full of rainwater, the electronics all ruined, the engine seized up, or things stolen, the boat would not have been cheap, and in some of those scenarios it could almost be a write-off. On the other hand, if it can be stored with care, my first season of cruising could be a dream. A proper little yacht that's fully equipped with everything from tools, to galley stuff, to wind vane, waiting for me right there in the Caribbean. Imagine spending a year looking forward to that!

The ideal scenario would be to have someone recommended there who I could pay to keep it safe and dry. Am I that lucky?
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Old 05-07-2019, 02:41   #2
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Re: Buying a boat in Panama. Could use some advice, please.

Panama has a N and a S coast. By "east" do you mean the Atlantic side? If so, where? That makes a difference re storage recommendations.
Where exactly is it stowed now?
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Old 05-07-2019, 03:07   #3
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Re: Buying a boat in Panama. Could use some advice, please.

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Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
Panama has a N and a S coast. By "east" do you mean the Atlantic side? If so, where? That makes a difference re storage recommendations.
Where exactly is it stowed now?
It's on the water in the San Blas islands, so by 'east' I meant the Atlantic side.
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Old 05-07-2019, 04:12   #4
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Re: Buying a boat in Panama. Could use some advice, please.

Stowed in the San Blas? Thats unusual. You do plan to visit and do a survey right?

Do you know where exactly in the San Blas?
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Old 05-07-2019, 04:25   #5
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Re: Buying a boat in Panama. Could use some advice, please.

Storing boats in the San Blas is unusual, but it does occur. There are some old moorings in the W Lemons that usually have a boat or two on them. Usually a few derilict boats at Chicheme. A few charter boats are stowed in Nargana. No idea about boat keeping (watching, cleaning, etc...) at these locations, but I could find out thru Kuna friends.

Personally, I would feel more comfortable stowing at PanaMarina near Linton. Hilda who cleans boats there does an excellent job and should something go wrong (like a lightening strike) they have a boat yard with a trailer to haul your boat out.

Stowing anywhere on the N coast, esp San Blas, lightening is a concern in the rainy season. Mold/mildew/heat/rain water leaks are a constant battle year round, but esp in the rainy season.

If you dont have someone to care for the boat for a year who is responsible and knows what they are doing then the interior will be trashed. Who is caring for it now?
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Old 05-07-2019, 04:32   #6
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Re: Buying a boat in Panama. Could use some advice, please.

Another thought, there is nowhere to haul for a survey in the San Blas. The nearest haul out is either Linton Bay Marina or PanaMarina (Turtle Cay which is a little closer has an old relic of a lift that has worked on occassion, but I would not trust it to lift a skiff). Both LBM and PanaMarina have good yards you can trust. Also surveyors and skilled contractors work there...neither in the San Blas either.
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Old 05-07-2019, 04:36   #7
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Re: Buying a boat in Panama. Could use some advice, please.

Hi Belize, along the lines of this thread, what is the best place to store a yacht in your part of the world, hard or in water options.

Cheers Dale.
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Old 05-07-2019, 04:39   #8
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Re: Buying a boat in Panama. Could use some advice, please.

Philaw, Panama is a boat graveyard - one of the places known as "home of broken dreams". I am willing to bet that the boat you're after will still be for sale in a year's time and the price will be even more negotiable then.
Another thing about Panama is the really high chances of a lightning strike. When you get there, and are sitting around a table full of beers and cruising sailors, it will be the minority that have NOT been struck by lightning.
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Old 05-07-2019, 05:17   #9
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Re: Buying a boat in Panama. Could use some advice, please.

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Hi Belize, along the lines of this thread, what is the best place to store a yacht in your part of the world, hard or in water options.

Cheers Dale.
You mean in Panama right? Assuming so...

In NE Panama:

Panamarina is a good option. They have both moorings and dry storage. They have a boat yard, contractors, a good resturant, rooms for rent, a small chandlery, very good yacht keeping. A longish day sail to the San Blas. Negatives: Sand flies are quite active around sunset and they are remote (but so are all other NE coast marinas from Shelter Bay to Turtle Cay).

Linton Bay Marina has both docks and moorings. They used to dry store too, but discontinued that, not sure of current status. Ive not had yacht keeping provided thru them.

Shelter Bay is a good option too with both docks & dry store plus full service yard and LOTS of ammenities: hotel, pool (quite nice after a long hot day of boat work), full bar/resturant, lounge area w AC, mini mart, Customs & Immigration service. A nice place to stow, but expensive...affectionately known as Shelter Pay.

Turtle Bay is closest to the San Blas, but just barely ticking over as a marina and its more remote by road than all the others. Not bad really just not much going on there. They have recently built laundry/bathoom facilities and have a little palapa resturant on the bay. Fuel dock. Were building some rental cabanas last we were there. Potentially dicey entrance...would be a very bad place to have engine or steering issues...could be unpassable in really rough conditions, but Ive not yet encountered that...my wife has vetoed making that entrance again. Chitras (sand flies) can be bothersome around sunset. They have made an attempt at a boat yard, but its really not viable.


There are a bunch of options in NW Panama (Bocas del Toro) too. Let me know if you want those options.
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Old 05-07-2019, 05:23   #10
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Re: Buying a boat in Panama. Could use some advice, please.

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Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
You mean in Panama right? Assuming so...

In NE Panama:

Panamarina is a good option. They have both moorings and dry storage. They have a boat yard, contractors, a good resturant, rooms for rent, a small chandlery, very good yacht keeping. A longish day sail to the San Blas. Negatives: Sand flies are quite active around sunset and they are remote (but so are all other NE coast marinas from Shelter Bay to Turtle Cay).

Linton Bay Marina has both docks and moorings. They used to dry store too, but discontinued that, not sure of current status. Ive not had yacht keeping provided thru them.

Shelter Bay is a good option too with both docks & dry store plus full service yard and LOTS of ammenities: hotel, pool (quite nice after a long hot day of boat work), full bar/resturant, lounge area w AC, mini mart, Customs & Immigration service. A nice place to stow, but expensive...affectionately known as Shelter Pay.

Turtle Bay is closest to the San Blas, but just barely ticking over as a marina and its more remote by road than all the others. Not bad really just not much going on there. They have recently built laundry/bathoom facilities and have a little palapa resturant on the bay. Fuel dock. Were building some rental cabanas last we were there. Potentially dicey entrance...would be a very bad place to have engine or steering issues...could be unpassable in really rough conditions, but Ive not yet encountered that. Chitras (sand flies) can be bothersome around sunset.

There are a bunch of options in NW Panama (Bocas del Toro) too. Let me know if you want those options.
Thanks Belize , I'm thinking of getting off the boat for a while thus looking for somewhere well priced and safe to leave Sukha. The lightning does worry me a tad,especially that I'm currently fitting some new electronics.

I'll investigate your suggestions.

Cheers Dale.
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Old 05-07-2019, 05:27   #11
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Re: Buying a boat in Panama. Could use some advice, please.

I'm being a bit vague about the boat because I don't want offers going in on it. There will be boats for sale next year, but I find it hard to believe that there will be one like this. It's ideal: a small bluewater cruiser, as close to turnkey as you can get, for $10,000. It has all the stuff you wouldn't find on a boat in Britain: wind vane, full solar array, tools, spares, reference books: the lot. It literally couldn't be better, except that I'm not ready to go. I can afford to buy it, but can't afford to quit my job and sail it for a year. At that price it's still worth it if I could get someone to store it carefully for a year for a few thousand dollars, but doing it from where I'm sat in China is unlikely! Ha ha ha!

Quote:
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Philaw, Panama is a boat graveyard - one of the places known as "home of broken dreams". I am willing to bet that the boat you're after will still be for sale in a year's time and the price will be even more negotiable then.
Another thing about Panama is the really high chances of a lightning strike. When you get there, and are sitting around a table full of beers and cruising sailors, it will be the minority that have NOT been struck by lightning.
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Old 05-07-2019, 05:29   #12
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Re: Buying a boat in Panama. Could use some advice, please.

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Philaw, Panama is a boat graveyard - one of the places known as "home of broken dreams". I am willing to bet that the boat you're after will still be for sale in a year's time and the price will be even more negotiable then.
Another thing about Panama is the really high chances of a lightning strike. When you get there, and are sitting around a table full of beers and cruising sailors, it will be the minority that have NOT been struck by lightning.
True, lots of derelict boats in Panama...esp around Linton..so buyer beware.

More small boat wrecks in Panama than Ive seen anywhere else too.
..esp in the San Blas.

And biblical lightening. The first big boom of the season (usually early June) marks the end of our San Blas cruising season.
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Old 05-07-2019, 05:36   #13
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Re: Buying a boat in Panama. Could use some advice, please.

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Originally Posted by philaw View Post
I'm being a bit vague about the boat because I don't want offers going in on it. There will be boats for sale next year, but I find it hard to believe that there will be one like this. It's ideal: a small bluewater cruiser, as close to turnkey as you can get, for $10,000. It has all the stuff you wouldn't find on a boat in Britain: wind vane, full solar array, tools, spares, reference books: the lot. It literally couldn't be better, except that I'm not ready to go. I can afford to buy it, but can't afford to quit my job and sail it for a year. At that price it's still worth it if I could get someone to store it carefully for a year for a few thousand dollars, but doing it from where I'm sat in China is unlikely! Ha ha ha!
Hmmm...it may have just been posted for sale here on CF.

Trust but verify...digital text and pics are just bits in cyberspace...reality may be very different.
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Old 05-07-2019, 05:41   #14
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Re: Buying a boat in Panama. Could use some advice, please.

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Hmmm...it may have just been posted for sale here on CF.

Trust but verify...digital text and pics are just bits in cyberspace...reality may be very different.
Yep, I've also seen a very similarly described boat listed on one of the Fakepoo Boats For Sale pages.
Philaw, please don't feel pressured by FOMO - as Belize says, there are lots of choices of previously-loved-fully-kitted-cruising-boats, not only in Panama, but also in places like Trinidad, Grenada, Sint Martin and Guatemala, to name a few.
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Old 05-07-2019, 05:46   #15
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Re: Buying a boat in Panama. Could use some advice, please.

Another thing about Panama, is that to get anywhere decent you have two choices:
- beat against the wind and current all the way back to the West Indies, or
- head across the Pacific and cover about 4,000NM before finding a vaguely affordable island.
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