CSSN News – November 7, 2021 – Cruisers harassed in Panama

Cruisers arrived and anchored at Isla Naranjo Bajo, Panama (position 09-25.664N 079-48.164W about 10 miles east of Colon), intending to overnight. There were no other cruising boats in the anchorage. At about 2030HRs that night they were approached by a local panga, powered by a single outboard. The panga contained 3 men, who were calling SOS and asking for help. 

The panga came alongside and it was apparent 2 of the 3 men were under the influence of alcohol or drugs. They asked to have a phone but could not say for what purpose, so the request was denied. Later one of the men showed a phone that they used to Google translate some of their demands. 

They were not subtle about looking at the yachts outboard which was secured to the arch and they began looking into the hatches, while requesting beer and cigarettes. The men became increasingly impatient and rude, asking for a credit card to pay for “piracy protection”. 

The crew was ultimately able to satisfy the men with a $20 cash payment, and the panga departed westward toward Colon. The yacht pulled anchor and departed eastward to Linton Bay.