AN Jamaica to Panama

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A direct route (AN107A) leads to Panama from ports in the eastern part of Jamaica. The winds will be light while in the lee of the island, but outside Jamaica's wind shadow they will rapidly become strong with large seas. The strong winds and high seas experienced on this route for most of the year, combined with a strong west-setting current, call for accurate navigation as the route passes dangerously close to a number of offshore banks. As the direct route to Panama leads close to the New and Pedro Banks, sufficient allowance for leeway should be made when setting a course to windward of them. The area should also be avoided because of the breaking seas that occur over the shallows. Both these banks can be very dangerous in heavy weather and their vicinity should be avoided. Another hazard is the many fishing boats, some of which do not show lights, as well as the buoyed nets set on the banks.

From WP AN1071 south of Plumb Point, in the approaches to Kingston, a course should be set for WP AN1072 to pass well to the east of the various banks. If leaving from one of the ports on the NE coast of Jamaica, a course should be shaped around the east of the island and you should make for the same waypoint AN1072. From there it is a clear run to WP AN1073, the landfall buoy in the approaches to the Panama Canal.

For boats leaving from ports in the west of Jamaica, the route has to avoid a series of dangers, and as some of their positions, as depicted on the charts, are not entirely accurate, the area should be approached with great caution. Having passed Point Negril, at the western extremity of Jamaica, from WP AN1074 set course for WP AN1075 to pass between Rosalind and Serranilla Banks. The course is then altered for WP AN1076 halfway between Sueno and Serrana Banks, both of which have lights. The next WP AN1077 is 20 miles east of Roncador Bank, from where the course can be altered for WP AN1073 at the entrance into the port of Cristobal. Boats approaching the breakwaters at the entrance into the Panama Canal should call Traffic Control on VHF channel 12. Traffic lights regulate the passage between the breakwaters, but small boats may pass if they keep close to the side, both when passing through the breakwaters and in the shipping channels.

Boats going straight to the San Bias Islands should be aware of the poor visibility in their vicinity as low cloud often obscures the mainland and land may not become visible until a few miles away. The official port of entry is Porvenir (9 °34'N, 78657'W).

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