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, 78'57'W).

AN1053. Both points are just outside the 1000 fathom line, although strong winds and high seas can be expected on this route, especially during the winter months. From waypoint AN1053 the course can be altered for WP AN1054 in the approaches to the port of Cartagena. The area should be approached with caution because of the dangers in the approaches. Also avoid the silted Boca Grande as the dredged entrance is Boca Chica, identified by a landfall buoy, close to the end of Isla de Tierra Bomba. An 8 mile long channel leads northward through the shallow Bahia de Cartagena to the commercial port and two marinas.

Most boats take their leave from Colombia in Cartagena, from where a direct course leads across the Gulf of Darien to the Panama Canal entrance. From outside Cartagena, at WP AN1060 a course can be set for WP AN!061, 10 miles N of Punta Manzanillo. The course can then be altered for WP AN1062, the landfall buoy at the entrance to the Panama Canal. The above course passes outside the San Bias islands and stays in deeper water to avoid the rougher seas further inshore. The voyage can be interrupted in the San Bias Islands,

As on most other routes in the Caribbean Sea, best conditions are encountered in either April-May, or November. Because the route crosses an area known for its rough seas, Aruba should not be left in winds over 30 knots, or if there is a forecast of strong winds to come. The current will be in one's favour almost all the way to Cartagena, with sets of 1.5 to 2 knots, although a counter-current may make itself felt in the last 20-30 miles to Cartagena. The area around Cartagena is affected by a violent southerly wind called chocosono, which can attain 50 or even 60 knots.

which belong to Panama and where one can clear and obtain the compulsory cruising permit at Porvenir (9°34'N/ 78°57:W).

The area to be crossed is not subjected to tropical storms, although the effect wiil be felt if a hurricane occurs further north. During winter months passages along this route will be affected by the large swell caused by the strong trade winds piling up the water in this comer of the Caribbean.

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