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, December 31, 2008
The Demise of the Panama Canal Yacht Club
These events actually took place in Feb 2009, but I have also posted it under 2008 to keep it with the rest of our Panama information.

A few days ago we heard from our friends on s/v Infini, still in Panama, that the the Panama Canal Yacht Club had been shut down. This wasn't a huge surprise, as there were rumors of it's demise when we went through the Canal in September 2008.

However, we just got an email from them with the details of how it happened. And all we can say is ... only in Panama.

Here is an excerpt from an article in the online publication Panama Guide. It is attributed to "Fran", obviously rent-paying resident of the (former) Panama Canal Yacht Club.

"On Thursday afternoon (the day after we paid our dock rent for another month), after the club manager left the office the sleezeball lawyers for Panama Ports Corporation whose stacks of containers have for years surrounded and steadily encroached on the club's land arrived and told the meek, mild, timid elderly little lady still in the office that they had an "order signed by the government" and were there to "simply do an inventory" and she would have to follow them around while they did it."

"Unfortunately, as they planned, she certainly would not know any better - like to say "no way" - as the manager would have. So having done the inventory, with a witness, made it legal rather than a "break and enter", and at 0300 hours Friday morning, the gated entrance to the club was sealed off by two massive containers, and the fence into the club was breached for access."

"The demolition crew arrived with huge spot lights, wrecking balls, trucks and back hoes and started bashing down the buildings. Sealing off the club may or may not have been legal - wrecking the place we've been assured is an illegal - probably criminal act. By 0800 hours, the water main had been busted, and the power lines downed.

"Now Friday was "Colon Day" another of many official holidays making a long weekend so naturally, as the Ports lawyers had calculated, there was no recourse that the Club or its lawyer could take, as all government offices and judicial offices were closed.....no way to get an injunction to stop .....very slick on the part of Panama ports."

"When we all started waking up and seeing this incredible destruction and walking around asking questions we were told that they were only taking down one old empty shed that the workers had been using - to send a message. But as the day went on the demolition never stopped. It was dismal with all our the friends we've made among he workers (the real people) who showed up for work as usual, sitting stunned in shock and tears."

"All the contents of the office, the bar, the restaurant, the storage rooms, freezers and the workers lockers were being carted away and locked in containers which were moved to unspecified and unknown locations "for safe keeping" - uh huh."

"Now this morning...it has begun again...there really won't be anything left standing by the end of today."

"Yesterday we were told that we had six weeks to empty our shed that contained virtually everything we keep on the boat....YEAH, right! I said.....I should believe them???!!!!!!....after all the lies so far???..(they didn't seem to appreciate that observation)....anyway we almost emptied everything in one day that we were planning on working on for a month at our usual pace."

"But I will be dammed if we are removing OUR lock from the storage shed...because these sheds hold personal (customers') stuff that was not part of the club operation inventory and they will need each boater to sign off before they can touch the sheds and their contents."

"Well...they can send us a telegram to the San Blas Islands...we will be leaving our lock on the shed when we leave...right now we are being very difficult and fighting to have our power and water turned back on on the dock."

There was more in the article, but the sheer audacity of the Panama Port Authority to come in in the middle of the night and forcefully demolish the Panama Canal Yacht Club... amazing... will be interesting to see how it develops... I guess the cruisers are still at the docks (at least temporarily), but there is no longer a Yacht Club facility!

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