About Me

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I first crossed the Atlantic in 1975 aboard 'Stormalong', a 28ft Wharram-designed catamaran. Back in the UK, Pete and I bought an ex 6-metre racing yacht, 'Sheila', living on her for 4 years. Wanting to do more and go further with a boat we could completely trust, we built 'Badger' - the best boat in the world - sailing her 110,000 miles, into the Arctic and the Antarctic, around the Atlantics North and South and into the Baltic. She had junk rig - the only rig I ever want to cruise with. Pete wanted to build again - a 38 ft junk-rigged catamaran, 'China Moon' - which he designed. But before the project was finished, we went our separate ways. A year later I joined Trevor Robertson aboard his 35ft 'Iron Bark'. We explored the Canadian Maritimes, crossed the Atlantic twice, wintered in Greenland and crossed the Pacific to Australia and New Zealand. I fell in love with NZ and jumping ship, bought my own boat while Trevor carried on voyaging. I put a junk rig onto ‘Fantail’ and, having decided that N Island offered better cruising opportunities than S Island, sailed up there in 2012. Looking for a boat to see me out, I am now building a 26ft, wood/epoxy junk in Whangarei.

Monday, 30 April 2007


In March and April 2006, the busy season for yachts transiting the Canal into the Pacific, the waiting time was typically 20 days.

Anchoring and berthing

On arrival in Colon, a yacht has the option of anchoring on the Flats, berthing at the Panama Canal Yacht Club, or using the marina in Shelter Cove. Anchoring is free, but it can be choppy and is about a half-mile dinghy ride to the PCYC, where you can leave the dinghy. As well as the dinghy dock, there are washing machines, fresh water, rubbish bins, a bar and restaurant. You can make use of these facilities for $2 a day. The yacht club will also hold mail and provides Internet access. All prices are reasonable. Times and dates for transits are posted here. The marina berths at both PCYC and Shelter Bay were about 50¢ per ft per day. While the PCYC is convenient for Colón, it is run down and grubby, while Shelter Bay Marina is brand new, with excellent facilities, including on board Internet. It is situated in an attractive rural area with pleasant walks. Although a launch to Colón is provided, this occasionally broke down.


On arrival in Colón, clear Customs and Immigration and request your canal transit immediately: this is not done automatically, because there are transient yachts coming to Colón merely to provision.

Clearing requires that you visit 5 offices, scattered around Colón, with appropriate clearances, ship’s papers, passports, photocopies of ship’s papers, crew lists, and passport photos of the crew. There are several taxi drivers (Hines and Ellington are both efficient) at the Panama Canal Yacht Club, who will take you around, arrange for the correct number of photocopies and photographs, translate forms and generally walk you through the whole procedure in about 2 hours, at a cost of US $20 and hour, plus $67 to $97 (depending on the size of the boat) in charges. Alternatively, you can do it yourself, but this will probably take about 2 days.

Most streets in Colón are sufficiently dangerous to justify the cost of using a taxi: fares around the town are $1 and it costs $2 to go to the supermarkets a little further out of town. Not all the taxi drivers are as honest as they might be and it’s worth establishing the cost before getting in the taxi.

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