Cruisers Forum
 


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 23-06-2021, 22:27   #1
Registered User

Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: SF Bay Area
Boat: Beneteau 411
Posts: 8
Cruising Caribbean Panama

Hello All;
Thinking of buying a good blue water cruiser that is currently located in Shelter Bay Marina, Panama. Plan would be to stay on her there for a year or so sailing primarily locally between Bocas del Toro and San Blas Islands.
Heard mostly good things about the area and my recent visit for sea trials was fine. My question was for anyone who has cruised the area what their thoughts, feelings, impressions and experiences were like in the area.
I love the boat, but not sure about the area. I think it is a good place to start, become familiar with the boat, enjoy the local experiences, and hone the skills, but am seeking any real world input from the group.
Thank you.
Odyssea1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 23-06-2021, 22:47   #2
Registered User

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Santa Cruz
Boat: Boatless Again
Posts: 5,147
Re: Cruising Caribbean Panama

Chances are high your boat will be hit by lightning if you stay there a year.
donradcliffe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24-06-2021, 06:43   #3
Registered User

Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: W Carib
Boat: Wildcat 35, Hobie 33
Posts: 13,059
Re: Cruising Caribbean Panama

We have been cruising the Carib coast of Panama since 2012, from Bocas del Toro to the far Eastern San Blas and almost everywhere in between. Obviously we like it here.

Yes, lightning is a concern in Panama, but thats true almost anywhere in the W Carib during rainy season (Im on the Rio Dulce in Guatemala now and we have been having biblical lightning). Ive been lucky, Ive stowed my catamaran in both Panama and Guatemala for many years and its yet to be struck, but I know of many others who have been in both places. We normally only cruise in dry season. When we hear the first big strike of the season, my wife declares cruising season over and we head for the dock. Some cruise Panama year round, but personally I would rather the boat get struck while stored than with us aboard or underway.

My 2c on some of the cruising spots etc:

San Blas (Guna Yala). We have spent most of our cruising seasons here in the San Blas...a special place. Enough time there that we have made Kuna friends and have been invited to experience things like Chicha Ceremonies which not many outsiders get to see.

Bocas del Toro. Bocas has grown on us. Most either love or hate Bocas Town itself, but there is also an extensive archipeligo which offers lots of exploring, anchoring, and snorkeling opportunities with some of the most intense concentrations of invertibrates I have ever seen.

Portobelo has great potential, but unfortuntely it attracts derelict boats and people like a magnet. The bay is filthty and so is the town...which is a shame because, if you overlook that, it is quite a beautiful setting with interesting history and a large good harbor.

Colon. Not a cruising venue per se, but a common stopping point. Colon town proper is a full on ghetto, best to avoid it. Cruisers mostly stick to the outlying areas for provisioning etc and it is quite good for that.

Shelter Bay (Shelter Pay). Good marina with lots of amenties and services, but they are the only show in town and charge accordingly. Other than that, I like Shelter Bay. An unintentional effect of the Canal Zone was to preserve many square miles of jungle. This results in some good day hikes around Shelter Bay where you can see lots of wildlife and explore interesting military ruins. You can also wade out onto the extensive flats along the N shore for interesting tidal pool exploring and good fishing.

Between Colon and Portobello there are a couple of spots worth mentioning: Islas Naranjas and Bahia Buen Aventura. Islas Naranajas is just to the E of the Canal break water. It makes for a good short shake down cruise when departing Shelter Bay. Good anchorage. We prefer Bahia Buena Aventura to nearby Portobelo.

From Portobelo to the San Blas there are number of interesting stops, but be aware that this section of coast has had some security issues in recent years so choose your stops prudently.

Linton Bay. A good harbor with two marinas. The anchorage gets quite crowed and has had some security issues in recent years so best to stick to the marinas (Linton Bay and PanaMarina). Linton Bay is a full service marina and a convenient place to pick up a transient slip. PanaMarina is more of a storage marina, but has a very good resturant. There is interesting exploring around Linton Bay.

Between the Bocas area and Colon there is not much of interest to cruisers...just a long desolate coast line devoid of good harbors.

For more details get a copy of Bauhaus's superb cruising guide. It is the ultimate guide for cruising Panama.
belizesailor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24-06-2021, 09:15   #4
Registered User

Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: SF Bay Area
Boat: Beneteau 411
Posts: 8
Re: Cruising Caribbean Panama

Wow, beleizesailor, thank you so much for the outstanding response and excellent information. And to clarify, I would probably live mainly there during the dry season. Thinking I would split my time between Bocos, San Blas and Shelter Bay. I have heard mixed reviews about Bocos as well, but it seems to depend where one goes and what one is expecting. San Blas mostly only good things, but I do wonder if the Kuna people tire of cruisers invading their waters. I imagine that depends in part on how one behaves.
I will look for the cruising guide. Thanks again for all the info.
Odyssea1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24-06-2021, 12:59   #5
Registered User

Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: W Carib
Boat: Wildcat 35, Hobie 33
Posts: 13,059
Re: Cruising Caribbean Panama

Quote:
Originally Posted by Odyssea1 View Post
Wow, beleizesailor, thank you so much for the outstanding response and excellent information. And to clarify, I would probably live mainly there during the dry season. Thinking I would split my time between Bocos, San Blas and Shelter Bay. I have heard mixed reviews about Bocos as well, but it seems to depend where one goes and what one is expecting. San Blas mostly only good things, but I do wonder if the Kuna people tire of cruisers invading their waters. I imagine that depends in part on how one behaves.
I will look for the cruising guide. Thanks again for all the info.
De nada, something enjoyanble to do over coffee and glad to help.

Yes, Bocas gets a lot of mixed reviews on sailing and travel sites. Bocas Town proper is a full on backpacker/surfer/party town, which is not our thing, but the "scenery" sure is nice! On the upside it also has a number of well stocked hardware stores and grocery stores, and a good choice of resturants. We usually pop in for a day or two to provision and then head back out into the archipelogo.

The Kuna welcome cruisers, but are less enamored of the unwanted, and typically illegal and substandard, charter trade that thrives there.
belizesailor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24-06-2021, 14:17   #6
Registered User

Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Toronto area when not travelling
Boat: Catalina 36 Mk II
Posts: 1,386
Re: Cruising Caribbean Panama

We found the San Blas not as wonderful as many (most?) think. The islands are beautiful and the locals are wonderful. Our main problem was with the 'permacruisers' there. They seemed decidedly unfriendly. A pot luck was announced on the radio net and we went with friends from another boat. We tried to be friendly but other cruisers just ignored us. There was much discussion about some of the Kuna moving to an island that cruisers used for BBQs and the like. Cruisers were pissed off that the locals wanted to take 'our' (the cruisers') island. One local cruiser threatened to cut the rode on a German boat who had the gall to anchor in 'his' bay - and not close. We did a circumnavigation and never encountered this sort of behaviour anywhere else.

In contrast we really liked Linton but when we were there it was safe to anchor. We had a Christmas dinner at a restaurant run by a French couple that was one of the great meals of my life.
__________________
Back to Great Lakes sailing on our Catalina 36 MkII after many years ocean sailing on a Bristol 45.5, which was just too big for the yacht clubs on Lake Ontario.
AiniA is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24-06-2021, 15:00   #7
Registered User

Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: W Carib
Boat: Wildcat 35, Hobie 33
Posts: 13,059
Re: Cruising Caribbean Panama

Quote:
Originally Posted by AiniA View Post
We found the San Blas not as wonderful as many (most?) think. The islands are beautiful and the locals are wonderful. Our main problem was with the 'permacruisers' there. They seemed decidedly unfriendly. A pot luck was announced on the radio net and we went with friends from another boat. We tried to be friendly but other cruisers just ignored us. There was much discussion about some of the Kuna moving to an island that cruisers used for BBQs and the like. Cruisers were pissed off that the locals wanted to take 'our' (the cruisers') island. One local cruiser threatened to cut the rode on a German boat who had the gall to anchor in 'his' bay - and not close. We did a circumnavigation and never encountered this sort of behaviour anywhere else.

In contrast we really liked Linton but when we were there it was safe to anchor. We had a Christmas dinner at a restaurant run by a French couple that was one of the great meals of my life.
There are "perma-cruisers" in the San Blas for sure, but Ive never encountered any unfriendly ones. Ive been to get togethers on "BBQ Island" many times and never found that vibe. Hopefully I wasnt one of the unfriendly ones when you were there!

The only unfriendlies Ive ever encountered in the San Blas are some of the backpacker charter captains.

I like the Linton area too, but it has had some issues in recent years (robbery of anchored boats). Both there and nearby Nombre de Dios (rape, robbery). Arrests have been made so hopefully that dampens the issues.

I assume your excellent meal was at PanaMarina?
belizesailor is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24-06-2021, 15:35   #8
Registered User

Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 5,306
Re: Cruising Caribbean Panama

If you wish to have an extended stay you will need to arrange for alternative visa.

NO VISA REQUIRED: IF YOU ARE FROM ANY OF THE FOLLOWING COUNTRIES
The maximum amount of time that you can stay in Panama is six months. If you want to stay longer than six months, you may extend your stay applying for an extension of visa with the Offices of Immigration in Panama.

Reference list:

https://www.embassyofpanama.org/visas-1

Please be advised: for authorized visas, the approval process may take up to 60 business days, depending on the verification and completion of your documents. Do not finalize your travel arrangements until your visa has been granted.

NOTE: IF THE VISA IS GRANTED, YOU MUST COME PERSONALLY TO THE CONSULATE TO GET THE VISA STAMPED ON YOUR PASSPORT.
Montanan is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
Caribbean, cruising, Panama, rib

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Navionics Webinar - Cruising to the Cruising the Caribbean & Bahamas ShellBack89 Provisioning: Food & Drink 1 16-12-2018 19:14
Crew Wanted: Share expenses. Cruising in the Caribbean, starting in Panama ASAP masterov Crew Positions: Wanted & Available 3 24-08-2017 09:10
Charts Panama, Caribbean, and NW Caribbean takesmeaway OpenCPN 5 06-07-2015 14:19
Crew Available: Panama City, Panama Llamster Crew Archives 0 25-02-2010 08:19
Best Caribbean Cruising Route from Florida to Panama Mikado Atlantic & the Caribbean 1 09-03-2007 15:45

Advertise Here


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 00:31.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.