Cruising with Soggy Paws
Soggy Paws is a 44' CSY Sailboat. In 2007, we set sail on a 10 year around the world cruise.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
The Flamenco Anchorage, Balboa, Panama

We stopped in here for a few days to let off passengers and pick up a few things before we start moving NW toward Golfito, Costa Rica.

The favored anchorage seems to change depending on the season, as the prevailing winds change.

For the rainy season, the anchorage is on the east side of the causeway that the Balboa Yacht Club is on the west side of, at the Pacific entry to the Panama Canal. As shown by the anchor in the Bauhaus guide, you tuck up on the north side of the Flamenco Marina area.

The only dinghy dock is at Flamenco Marina, and they charge $5.25 per day, somewhat loosely enforced (ie you definitely have to pay on your first visit, but they're not super strict about checking your receipt all the time. Some cruisers told us you could get by paying a few days at a time, and then skipping a few days). The dock is a nice floating dock and very secure.

View of Dinghy Dock & Fuel Dock

There is supposedly a $5/bag trash fee, but we have yet to be asked for it when we have dropped trash off. That may only be for boats getting rid of trash without paying for the dinghy dock.

There is a water hose at the dinghy dock, so you can fill jugs in the dinghy. Right now the dinghy area is at the far end of the fuel dock (in and to the left). There is a blue rope that designates the dinghy area, though even now in the low season, there's not enough room there for all the dinghies.

The Typical Clientele at the Docks

Note: Though the sign says Flamenco Marina, the official name according to the receipt we got is the Fuerte Amador Resort & Marina. Dockage is available at $1.65/foot short term and $1.50/foot long term.

The first time we anchored, we anchored south of where the Bauhaus guide showed, closer to the actual marina breakwater. This was fine for a day or so when the wind was very light. But when the wind came up just a little (10-12 knots), it got very rolly there. So we moved a quarter mile north to where Bauhaus shows the anchor. It is further from the dinghy dock, but much less rolly here. There is a large area, good holding, with about 10-15 feet at low tide.

Internet access: I can see the marina wifi out on the hook with my good wifi setup, at our first anchorage near the marina. But couldn't get anything free/open out there. The only usable hookup was the Flamenco Marina hotspot (nice strong signal), but when hooked up, you get a logon screen. When I asked at the marina about a logon, we were told that the marina internet connection is terrible, so don't bother paying for it. There is free wifi at the Flamenco Cafe and at Bennigans, both right at the marina. It is slow... probably the same feed that you have to pay for on the marina's wifi. I have not pursued a faster alternative ashore.

When we moved further down to the regular anchorage, I started picking up the Whisper hotspot. This is a 'for pay' hotspot, and you can buy 2 hrs for $5, or 15 hrs for $20. At $1.25/hr for reasonably fast wifi on the boat, I think it's a good value. (Dave said "Twenty dollars!!") You can sign up on their website with a credit card, or call the number on the webpage, or find a physical outlet (the shops/restaurants ashore in the shopping center, probably... we haven't been there). I just used my credit card. So far haven't regretted it, though it is probably a little bit risky over an unsecured wireless link.

There is fuel at the Flamenco Marina. It is way cheaper than it was at PCYC in Colon, and a little cheaper than BYC. It does a huge volume with the sportsfishing boats, so the fuel is very good.

There is a mini-mart at the marina, across from the office. It has basic stuff you'd expect at a marina-based mini-mart (no veggies).

There are taxis hanging out at the marina parking lot. We met one who was very nice, with a/c taxi, speaks english. Ramon's cell is 6452-7157. It's $30 to the international airport. Ramon will do 'by the hour' taxi $10/hour and he knows most of the places that the cruisers want to go.

There are buses that stop at the marina but as yet do not have any experience taking them yet. We understand that the route here either ends near the Albrook Mall or at Centro Commercial.

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