As I said in an earlier post I was thinking of building part of my shantyboat here in the States and shipping it down to Panama. I wrote to a friend who lives there who had shipped a small boat down to use in the Bocas del Toro area and asked about his experience in shipping stuff to Panama. His reply wasn’t encouraging at all.
He said: “One could not pay me anything to ship anything to Panama again…car…boat…etc. It was a horror story. Having said that, if you do any assembly on your boat in Florida, do not make it look anything like a boat…and put it in a container. They charge you import duty on the shipping…The Customs agent…Duty on duty, etc. It was unf*cking believable and you are at their mercy. Believe me, getting the materials to Bocas is 90% of the battle. Not trying to tell you there is no Easter Bunny…Butttttt–There Isn’t!
See what materials you can buy in the Bocas area. The added money is well worth the hassle and money alledgedly saved. The above paragraph is my opinion only based on experience and friend’s experience.
As Robbie Burns once noted:
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men
Gang aft agley
An’lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!
But Frank did offer one slight glimmer of hope. His good friend who owns one of the two marinas in Bocas, and who I met when I was down there, imports HIS plywood and I might be able to piggy-back on one of his orders. I’ve written to him to find out how he does it and whether my plan of buying here and building there makes any sense to him.
If not, then there are still alternatives. Planking instead of plywood. After all, there were a couple of millenia where boats were built before the invention of plywood. And planking IS available in Bocas.