Panama Canal Yacht Club Is No More
Cruisers in the tropics wasted no time alerting CW to the demise of this longtime favorite waypoint, watering hole and restaurant, dinghy dock, marina, and boatyard situated on the Caribbean side of the Panama Canal, not far from the seaport of Colón.
Sources told CW that the Panama Ports Company used legal clout to gain court permission to have the 81-year-old club demolished February 27, 2009, when businesses were closed in observance of a local holiday. At the time, from 30-40 boats were at the docks, with many of their owners absent during the razing.
According to a spokesperson for Panama Ports, the company has been in the clear to take action since 1997.
"Panama Ports Company has only exercised its land use rights on the areas given in a concession contract by the Republic of Panama according to the contract Law No. 5 on January 16, 1997," writes Rommel G. Troetsch, head of marketing, in an email to CW. "The renting contract of the yacht club expired many months ago, consequently the occupation of said area by the yacht club is illegal."
Yet, cruisers were caught by surprise.
"According to a local member of the PCYC," write Susan and Bob Simmons of the sailboat Sunrise in an email to CW, "things started to happen Thursday, February 26, as a Panama judge ruled that Panama Ports Company owned the property. Immediate legal action was taken to condemn the property and a permit was issued to demolish the buildings on the property.