Necessity is in Pedegral in Panama

Eva and Jan Fr. Mack
Thu 18 Aug 2011 10:10
The position is 08:21:49N 82:26:19W
This is our very first somewhat negative report. Necessity has been laid up in Puntarenas, Costa Rica for a couple of months. We have now moved her to Panama because it didn't feel secure. It was due not to the Costa Rica yacht Club where she was, but Costa Rica in general. As a cruising destination Costa Rica has been a big disappointment. Even though Costa Rica has a high crime rate, the real reason for our uneasy was officialdom. Necessity has visited something like 30 countries, but we have never had the same uneasy feeling. It started with a disinterested and drunk customs officer. It did take a long time waiting for him to come back from the bathroom. The rules turned out to be draconian. I may be wrong, but they gave the feeling that one false step and they would seize Necessity. It didn't make it easier that I had to go home for a spell. For one thing we needed to replace the propeller. Coming back to Costa Rica with this item (papers from Hallberg Rassy correctly sta
ting "boat in transit") was something of a nightmare. It took us 24 hours to sort it out, and it set us back quite a few hundred dollars involving agents, warehouse fees and duties. At the same time the clock was ticking towards the three month limit for our stay in Costa Rica. I am sure glad to be out and in Panama. Let it be noted though, that the Costa Rica Yacht Club in Puntarenas is very good with impressive security. For a limited stay it would be a good place to go. They are a victim as much as their visitors.
With regard to Costa Rica I can add that the country is distinctly more expensive than the surrounding countries without adding much extra that was of interest to us (I am aware of their environmental record and their national parks).
Necessity is now far up an estuary to a little village called Pedegral. Going there from the sea took two days since you are advised to travel on a rising tide only, and certainly not on high tide. That is your insurance to get off WHEN you hit a mud bank. We were rather lucky (or good) and hit only three times. That seems to be less than average. Pedegral is a suburb to David, the capital of Chiriqui and Panamas second largest city. It is certainly third world, but the marina is friendly and very helpful. The rules in Panama does not appear to be designed to "get you".
Jfm 15.08.11