PN Panama to Central America and Mexico

Best time:

April 1o May. November

Tropical storms:

June to Octocer



Cruising guides:

Cruising Guide Acapulco to the Panama Canal, Charlie's Charts of Costa

Rica, Charlie '$ Charts of thu Wr^tern! of Mexico.

Northbound passages to ports on the Pacific coast of Central America are always difficult due either to contrary winds or prolonged periods of calms. Although a favourable current can be expected as far as the Gulf of Fonseca, from there onwards the current is mostly contrary. One should be prepared to take advantage of every shift of wind and also to use the engine when necessary in order to counter the unfavourable current. The area is prone to thunderstorms with intense lightning.

Because of these factors, most people prefer to treat this route as a coastal hopping exercise. Stops can be made in all Central American countries,

Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and there are several attractive cruising areas on the way. The reception extended to visiting yachts by the various Central American countries depends very much on the political situation at the time, and occasionally also on the nationality of the yacht in question.

One of the most attractive stops on the coast is Golfito, in Costa Rica (8°36'N, 83'12'W). In Nicaragua the ports of Corinto (12°28'N, 87'11'W) and San Juan del Sur (1115'N, 85°53'W) have attracted mixed comments, while the Honduran port of San Lorenzo (13Q25'N, 87°27'W) has been recommended as an emergency stop. In El Salvador the situation has improved dramatically with the cessation of hostilities and a good place to stop is Acajutla (13°36'N, 89°50'W), which is one of El Salvador's official ports of entry, the other being Cutuco (13°19'N, 87°49'W). On entering the Gulf of Fonseca, the Salvadorean Coast Guard should be contacted on VHF channel 16. Stopping at one of the ports on the Pacific coast of Guatemala has little attraction, but beyond that stretches the long coast of Mexico, its main cruising attraction being located in its northern part - Baja California and the Sea of Cortez.

Detailed directions for this inshore route, which consists mostly of coastal cruising, are beyond the scope of this book. However, attention must be drawn to the two areas where the weather can seriously affect the inshore route. These are the gulfs of Tehuantepec and Papagayo, where the strong local winds described in the introduction to this section can occur. Both north and southbound inshore passages should attempt to transit the Gulf of Tehauntepec at the change of seasons, either around the middle of May or early in November. January and February are the months to avoid because of the high frequency of these gale force winds.

Best time:

Tropical storms: Charts:


Cruising guides: Waypoints:

March to May, October to mid-November (offshore) February to May, mid-October to mid- November (inshore) June to October ililili™ US: 152, 153

Charlie's Charts of the US Pacific Coast, Cruising Guide to the Sea of Cortez.


intermediate Landfall

Destination Distance (M)

ttmilc r\22A PN220 Pai 8:50'N, 79'30'W


gfii 'i;!f

PN221 Mala 7'30'N, 79'30'W PN222

3WN, 105C00'W PN223 Clipperton W 10eOO'N, 110'00'W PN224

20J00'N, 120'00'W

San Diego 32"42.5,N,;117J14,W Los Angeles 33'43'N, 118C16'W

3752 3803

PN223 Clipperton W PN225

37'50'N, 12215'W


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