No more bikes from Colombia to Panama

Discussion in 'Americas' started by Aussie Gringo, Jul 27, 2012.

  1. Aussie Gringo

    Aussie Gringo Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2008
    Oddometer:
    15
    Location:
    aussie gringo
    Guys,

    I may be the very last person to ever take a motorcycle on the sail boats which run between Cartagena and Panama
    ( via the San Blas Islands).

    We booked ourselves and the bike on the Independence two weeks ago. All was good. Three days before our departure we tried to start the custom process for the bike. What a fuck around It turned out to be! Apparently the port authorities and customs are in a blame game ever since the Fritz the Cat sank with about 16 passengers on board ( all of who are now safe) and one motorcycle ( which didn't make it unfortunately).

    Apparently the motorcycle onboard did not properly clear customs before departing Cartagena and the port authorities say that the vessel carry the bike was no designed to carry cargo, hence may have contributed to the sinking of the vessel.

    Long story short, we have spend the past three days trying to get permission to leave on the independence with the bike and until 4.00pm today (Friday) were told that there was no way that this would happen. After a lot of persistence, sop stories, and some bullshit thrown in, we finally got the customs official to stamp the form. However, her last words were that we would be the last people to ever transport a motorcycle via this method and that all future motorcycles would either have to be transported via a shipping container or via air freight.

    We were also told that the new transport ferry which was supposed to be up and running in May, won't happen and neither customs not the port authority in Cartagena will approve it.

    Its basically a big fuck up at the moment!
    #1
  2. Wolfgang55

    Wolfgang55 Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,548
    Location:
    Next to Rio Bravo
    Welcome the the TURD world.

    Cannot even imagine how much extra that cost you. Hope the rest of your trip has less BS drama. Ride well.
    #2
  3. Stahlratte

    Stahlratte Sea Gypsy

    Joined:
    May 16, 2012
    Oddometer:
    44
    Location:
    Panama/Colombia, sometimes Jamaica, Cuba, Mexico
    The authorities in cartagena are not willing to be responsable for small sailingboats taking cargo anymore because it can be dangerous as we could learn from the fritz the cat story. The sailingship stahlratte is a 240 tons ship designed for having up to 10 tons deckscargo and thats the reason it will be going on taking motorcycles from cartagena to panama and viceversa
    #3
  4. Aussie Gringo

    Aussie Gringo Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2008
    Oddometer:
    15
    Location:
    aussie gringo
    Hi Stahlratte,

    I hear what your saying, and know your boat , ( its about the same size as the independence but in better condition) but the fact is that customs and the port authorities are trying to make and example out of what happened to Fritz the Cat by not allowing any more motorcycles to be shipped by any vessels which are not authorised to carry cargo, regardless of the size.

    Im not saying that I agree, just relaying the message that they made very clear to me. They actually mentioned that your boat left with 4 motorcycles about 6 days before I left with the Independance, and said that this would be the last.

    For your sake, and for the sake of other motorcyclist, I hope they get it sorted out soon.

    cheers from Panama
    #4
  5. X1Glider

    X1Glider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2004
    Oddometer:
    625
    Location:
    Tomball, TX
    That realy sucks for the rest of us.:flush One of my dream trips is to get to South america as the Panama Canal is all I've been able to do. Peru and Chile have been on my list since I saw the glossy R1200GS brochure back in '04 and I have an open invitation to Santiago.
    #5
  6. Parcero

    Parcero Mundial

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2008
    Oddometer:
    553
    Location:
    Chicago physically, Colombia en mi mente.
    My understanding is that there is (or will be) one or two vessels authorized to ferry motos from Panamá to Colombia. All of the smaller boats have been shut down. Airfreight is still an option, one carrier being Girag. Obviously it is more expensive, but I would not let that stand in the way of a South American moto trip, where you will find some of the best riding, people, and experiences in the world.
    #6
  7. Aussie Gringo

    Aussie Gringo Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2008
    Oddometer:
    15
    Location:
    aussie gringo
    Agreed that it should not stop anyone from riding through South America and there are options available with regards to transporting the motorcycle through the Darien Gap. However, to the best of my knowledge, no vessel (other than vessels which are authorized to carry cargo internationally) are authorized to take motorcycles from Cartagena to Colombia at this point in time. Of course, we are in South and Central America, so this could change at anytime.
    #7
  8. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,940
    Location:
    Okie near Muskogee
    Looks like we will know pretty darn quick weather that is all true, think the SteelRat is heading that way soon.

    There have always been 'little' problems popping up here and there but it keeps on going. I seriously doubt you are the last...
    #8
  9. Aussie Gringo

    Aussie Gringo Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2008
    Oddometer:
    15
    Location:
    aussie gringo
    Agreed that it will most likely continue for a while longer, but just wanted to stress how difficult it is becoming. Like I said, we wasted three full days between customs and the port authorities before they finally decided to sign our customs exist form. We even had Manfred (the well known German who is a customs broker in Cartagena) accompany us to customs and they told him no. I can tell you, we only got in finally approved after a lot of begging , bullshit and persistence.
    #9
  10. Fast103

    Fast103 Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 16, 2012
    Oddometer:
    44
    Location:
    toronto, Canada
    I am planning on heading to Colombia from Panama around the end of November. From what I gather the new ferry service will not be operating by then. Is the Stahlratte currently operating or did the authorities shut it down?
    #10
  11. Aussie Gringo

    Aussie Gringo Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2008
    Oddometer:
    15
    Location:
    aussie gringo
    It's still operating. The authorities don't have any problem with these vessels transporting passengers, its the transportation of motorcycles they are trying to stop. They want motorcycle to be treated as international cargo.
    #11
  12. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,940
    Location:
    Okie near Muskogee
    The SteelRat just dropped off one moto Southbound some days ago from their website. Looks like it didn't stop afterall...

    10.08.2012

    In Coco Bandero on the way to Cartagena...


    We just had a great BBQ on the beach (again;). We will stay here in Coco Bandero all day tomorrow and leave the day after that to Cartagena. We are 26 people and have only one motorbike on board this time. The next tour from Cartagena to San Blas will start on the 24th of August.

    linky
    #12
  13. Aussie Gringo

    Aussie Gringo Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2008
    Oddometer:
    15
    Location:
    aussie gringo
    There's no problem south bound. It's north bound that's the problem. Lets hope they have success in taking bikes from Cartagena to Panama.
    #13
  14. rtwpaul

    rtwpaul out riding...

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    2,389
    Location:
    round the world
    I'll be on the Steel Rat in December heading south, so no problem there according to you and will be coming back from Columbia via Cuba into mexico, was there any mention of that being a no go?
    #14
  15. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,940
    Location:
    Okie near Muskogee
    It's not a problem, bikes are still coming and going both directions with only a slight hicup once in awhile.

    In other stories I heard world is ending, maybe the new ferry will start before then...
    :1drink
    #15
  16. rtwpaul

    rtwpaul out riding...

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    2,389
    Location:
    round the world
    i've sent an email to Ludwig for a real on the spot repot, but like you i don't see an issue, simply different palms may need a little grease
    #16
  17. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,940
    Location:
    Okie near Muskogee
    Why bother Lulu with questions that are already been answered by just checking the website:huh


    25.08.2012

    sailing to SAN BLAS...next sailing to CARTAGENA10th SEP (10 days tour via sapzurro)

    we left cartagena yesterday 10am with 21 souls on board plus 4 motorcycles.


    Here's the link to the ship's logbook
    #17
  18. rtwpaul

    rtwpaul out riding...

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2011
    Oddometer:
    2,389
    Location:
    round the world
    it was already sent before i posted here

    this is the response

    "hi paul! absolutely no problems with customs in cartagena and no change of
    plans..everything runs like it is planned;) cheers, ludwig"

    so i guess the OP facts were not 100% :D
    #18
  19. jimmex

    jimmex Guero con moto

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2003
    Oddometer:
    2,975
    Location:
    West Texas
    I really want to experience the Stahratte. That sounds like an adventure in itself.
    #19
  20. Stahlratte

    Stahlratte Sea Gypsy

    Joined:
    May 16, 2012
    Oddometer:
    44
    Location:
    Panama/Colombia, sometimes Jamaica, Cuba, Mexico
    We just unloaded 4 bikes on the 27th of August in San Blas/Panama coming from Cartagena/Colombia. We did NOT encounter any problems and don't expect any in the future:1drink
    #20