These are the more frequently asked questions we get about sailing and cruising on our boats in Panama, especially the San Blas Archipelago. This section is dynamic! We change it regularly!
We recommend the following:
- Your Passport (must have with you to come to the islands)
- Extra cash (no cash machines available on islands)
- 2 to 3 swimsuits
- T shirts.
- Lightweight, waterproof jacket with hood
- Caps or hats
- Rubber or plastic sandals or crocs type shoes only
- Water Bottle
- Toiletries and specific medicines of course.
After a short welcome and introduction to the boat and crew we are on our way to the first night, hopefully with an island to ourselves! Your arrival in the islands is usually sometime in the morning before midday, with an aim to being at anchor by nightfall. On the day of departure you will leave the islands at a time which varies greatly on specific arrangements, but again generally the aim is to be back in the city before the evening.
Notice bookings refer to per night not per day, so for a three night booking you could largely have four days amongst the islands. With 366 islands to choose from we are always seeking that 'undiscovered' spot.
The above also means that non sailors can enjoy a sailing taster and a true paradise island holiday. What about young children? Our experience has been that young teens who have an interest in sailing or snorkeling enjoy these trips, immensely. Remember though that there is little cellphone coverage!
Younger children as part of a dedicated family group are okay but the onus really is on the parents for safety and controlling them. (although the captain Does have this experience!). Children are welcome but they can get bored since the adults like to chat and swim and drink and eat. The other side of the coin are the experienced sailors who want to have crack at operating the yacht in one of warmest most unspoiled parts of the world! Welcome!
We always do our best to have a good stock of food, snacks, fruits and vegetables before every trip. We are usually able to get fresh fish and/or lobster for dinners. All you need to do is provide the liquor, wine, and/or beer you wish to consume during the trip. The best bet is to buy your booze and 'special' items while you are in Panama City or on the way if you are going to come by 4x4. As a 'missing items' stop there is a large supermarket on the way out of Panama City or in La Margarita/Chepo, which is about an hour or so away from San Blas. We know what foodstuffs work best on the boat and for trips of this length, but you can call us and discuss any particular food likes or allergies. Remember the food will be roughly 3 large cardboard boxes which need to accompany you to the yacht.
Fresh water and drinking water. We have several tanks aboard which we fill with tap water and so on as we can. (water is NOT available on the islands) When its gone its gone. Please be frugal with sink and shower water. Shower -wet yourself- turn off-soap yourself- rinse off. 2 minutes. All do that and all is well. You will have enough for many showers in this warm climate. We do however have a reverse osmosis water maker on board (a standard yachting solution). This water is 100% H20 so is great for drinking. We save it to a special tank for drinking. It can be redirected to cleaning water but this is a waste and involves a lot of engine running and so on to generate enough water. So we have good drinking water available, so please bring one only 500ml water bottle that you can fill up.
But please understand that if we get a reservation with a deposit for those spots before we receive yours, and there is no other space on the trip, the one with the paid deposit will get the spots. In any case, we will do our best to accommodate all requests.
Many guests elect to sleep above decks on clear, starry nights. We have rollup mattresses and cushions for sleeping on deck available for your convenience. We provide fresh linens for all beds and for sleeping in the salon. You are, however, responsible for having your own towel.
Be aware however, that at times we will be crossing channels to open sea, and there may be a bit more rolling motion during those brief periods on our sails.
If you feel you are extra sensitive and/or feel the need to protect yourself, use seasickness medication. We recommend Meclizine or Sturgeron as a preventative or remedy, or ginger tablets in the event of mild nausea or sour stomach. The magnetic wrist bands evidently work surprisingly well for some people. (www.reliefband.com) However the captain will keep saying, on and on, and on, drink fresh water until it runs from your nose! It is so important for many reasons. Bring your bottle!
Text, call or email us, or hook up on Skype for an ongoing chat.
Panama: (507) 6822-9714
USA: (425) 296-9155
- Deposit: A 50%, non-refundable, deposit on your total amount must be made 72 hours in advance of your cruise in order to reserve your position
- How many people can you handle on board maximum? We are equipped with enough Life Saving Equipment to handle 25 people on board.
- Where do I board the ship? This depends on arrangements made at the time of booking, but generally the vessel departs from the Balboa Yacht Club on the Amador Causeway next door to the Country Inn & Suites Hotel. We also depart from Las Brisas Marina and Flamenco Marina, both of which are located at the end of the Amador Causeway. We also depart from the Taboga Island General Wharf when necessary.
- Do you provide hotel pickups? We absolutely can, however there would be a charge for this service. We have numerous drivers that are reliable and we can contact on short notice to provide a pickup for a small group or a large group at your hotel.
- Are tips included? Tips are not included, and passengers may tip their crew as much as they feel is deserved. We pride ourselves in taking care of our passengers and providing great service. Suggested crew tip is 10% of the total booking cost, but this is your option and is certainly not mandatory. If you wish to tip, please provide to the Captain at the end of the voyage, who will disperse to the crew evenly.
- What about the weather? We reserve the right to cancel a cruise in the event the Captain determines the weather is unsafe. In this case, the 50% deposit will be refunded. Panama is an excellent cruising area, and bad weather resulting in cancellations is very rare in this region. However, Mother Nature can be fickle sometimes. Cruising in rain is not a problem. However, cruising in high seas, electrical storms, high winds etc is not recommended. The final Go / No-Go decision will remain at the descretion of the Captain.
- Will I get sea sick? Highly unlikely – the seas around Panama are generally calm and flat, but as stated before, Mother Nature can be fickle! We carry pills on board for someone who may feel a but ill, and we also carry a new aromatherapy product that you inhale. This product does amazing things for people that experience motion sickness. It is all natural and can be used by children and adults. For more information check www.soothing-scents.com If in doubt, plan in advance and take a Dramamine pill or equivalent motion-sickness product 1 hour before departure.
- Can we bring children? Our vessel is not child-proof, and while we do carry lifejackets and lifesaving equipment for young children, we can only accept children aboard if they are cared for and supervised by a responsible adult at all times. We do not have crew aboard to take care of children – they are your responsibilty and must be tended to at all times.
- Is smoking permitted? Yes, but only on the outside decks. For the safety of others, absolutely no smoking is permitted on any of the inside quarters of the ship. Also, please use the cans filled with sand for your butts and do not throw them overboard. Reason #1 – your butt won’t get caught in the wind, fly back inside the boat, and start a fire. Reason #2 – your butts can be eaten by sea life and kill them. Reason #3 – your butts pollute the beaches. Thanks for your co-operation.
- What should I bring? Towel, swim suit, suntan lotion, flip-flops, a hat, and some music. We have music on board, but you may wish to listen to something special. Our sound system accepts CDs, MP3 disks, and has an audio jack to plug in an IPod or equivalent. Don’t forget the hat and sun screen – minimum 30 SPF – as the sun can be very strong in these latitudes. The sun nearer the equator is much more powerful than the summer sun in temperate climates. Please do not underestimate it. We carry filtered fresh water on board for showers and cooking, but it is recommended that you bring bottled drinking water.
- Is there snorkel gear aboard? Yes, we have a small selection of snorkel gear available. However, there are only a limited number of masks/snorkels and they are of various sizes. It is recommended that you bring your own to ensure it fits properly.
- Is there electricity on board? Yes, standard North American plugs and 110-volt power is available.
- Is there InterNet on board? No….this is a trip to RELAX, not work on your computer!!!
- I can’t survive without my cell phone!! There is cell service between Panama and Taboga, although sometimes the signal can be weak. We request, for the comfort of other passengers, that you place your phone on Vibrate and if you must talk on the phone, move to a quiet area of the ship away from others. There is cell service on Contadora but the signal is fairly weak or none at all between Panama and Contadora.
- Drugs: Our vessel has a Zero Tolerance Policy with respect to drugs. We take this VERY seriously. Any passenger found with drugs in their possesion or using drugs aboard will result in a forfeit of the cruise and full prices will be charged, regardless of how long you have been on the vessel. Quite simply, the ship will turn around and return to Port. Our vessel is too important to us to be impounded by the local authorities just to indulge in your vice. This is non-negotiable and there will be no discussion.