Shelter Bay 10th – 15th June

Despite Portabelo being a port of entry I was having trouble with the formalities. Even after two visits to immigration I still had not been given an entry stamp. They did not like it that my clearance from Jamaica had Curacao as destination as although I had explained and written them a statement with the explanation they would not stamp my passport, saying that I had to visit immigration in Colon. So much as I was enjoying Portabelo I decide to go to Shelter Bay near Colon and since it was the rainy season anyway, thought I might haul out, lay the boat up and go back to UK for a bit. So early one morning, having put all arrangements in place I weighed anchor and set off down the coast towards Colon. Shelter Bay is situated inside the Colon breakwater, which protects the entrance to the Panama Canal so closing it it was busy with many ships, some at anchor and some on the move and permission has to be sought over VHF from the harbour authorities to enter. Permission granted I passed inside the breakwater and motored to the marina, They were ready for me so, straight into the haul out dock. Paper work completed and soon Sea Bear was ashore and shored up in the yard.

The marina is on the site of what was the American jungle warfare training centre Fort Sherman so is surrounded by jungle  which is slowly reclaiming most of the old military buildings.
Shelter Bay

The marina had a free bus service which ran into Colon so Monday morning first thing I was on the bus, it was a longer journey than I thought and crossed the canal at one of the Gatun locks. As well as sorting out my entry stamp with immigration I had to get my cruising permit sorted. I’ll not bore you with the details suffice it to say it took me from 09.300 until 14.00, visits to 2 different offices, numerous forms to fill in, photocopies to submit and 2 taxi rides across town. Bureaucracy is alive and well in Panama and there is still a market for tippex. Colon has a bad reputation for muggings and it is not advised for ‘gringos’ to walk in the town, hence the taxi. One good thing though, the women in the shipping office advised me that the fare should be no more than 2$ , outside agreeing with the taxi driver the fare he said well for tourists its 2$ but for locals 1$ I’ll charge you 1$. The drive was interesting, chaotic traffic but I have never seen such a run down City in all my travels, it was a bit shocking really.

A few days later with Sea Bear safely laid up a taxi took me for the one and half hour ride over the isthmus to the airport at Panama City. A flight via Mexico City took me to Heathrow so I’m back in UK for a bit. Be nice to see family and friends again. I’ll return to Panama after the rainy season and am looking forward to exploring it.

One thought on “Shelter Bay 10th – 15th June”

  1. Dear Chris,
    I’m dead impressed with you voyages!! Found your website by shear co-incident. I’m not having the internet and was surfing the web as a “visitor” at the local library one day when I found it. Ah, by the way, I’m Michael Pfeuffer, the previous owner of “Sea Bear”. Hope, you found my modifications to the boat useful, I think it was much more practical when I sold it compared to it’s original deck and interior lay out. At least for my kind of sailing the modifications worked out very well. Guess you will not have very much use for the “Dickinson” stove?! Wishing you and Sea Bear all the best and always fair weather etc. Enjoy your time in the UK and please, keep on the very good job with your reports from your adventures, very good reading (could be a few more photographs of the boat from my point of view).
    All the best and happy sailing! Michael.

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