Cruising to Colombia and Panama: or should I?
My wife and I are into our third year of the cursing life (HA HA HA- Freudian Slip-I meant "cruising"- but lately the former would be more true) aboard a sailing cat.
We sailed the Bahamas the last two seasons, hanging out in the Bight of Abacos (no one goes there), the Ragged Islands (everyone goes there now-but still fun), and as many out islands as the weather permitted. Now we want to go further a sea and we have decided to not go to the crowded side of the Caribbean, but to the westside. We heard great stories from sailors coming from there back through the Bahamas to the US. "Went there to pass through and stayed for 6 years" and so on. So who wouldn't want to go? After some moderate research the plan was set- Chesapeake thru the Bahamas, between Haiti and Cuba, maybe hit north side of Jamaica and then on to either Colombia or San Blas Islands direct. Saving Bocas del toro, Providencia Island, Roatan, Honduras by passing Rio Dulce and on to Belize. Then come back for one more summer in the US or head back south to wait out the hurricanes in what we hope will be a favorite spot.
Now, as I am doing more and more research, reading blogs, looking at noonsite, etc, etc, etc. A very confusing picture is starting to materialize. A lot of cruisers blogs seem to gloss over the bad for the good- they love all the areas I mentioned, great people, beautiful everything, but if you read long enough, they have been boarded by thieves (sometimes more than once), lives threatened (sometimes more than once), injuries and the obligatory dinghy theft (theirs or the boat next to them).
Reading on the reports of thefts, everyday of houses and boats, coming out of Bocas del Toro area (under 16 you can't be prosecuted in Panama- guess what that seems to have created), the killings of Don North and the French Woman (not local killer: but the "Spanish Armada " stories have gotten my attention, the corruption in all of Panama, but especially in El Porvenir.
The list goes on- but no one source seems to reference this and the other stories I have been reading.
So- my question to anyone that HAS ACTUALLY SAILED TO ANY OF THESE PLACES, what should I expect. I know, I know, crime can happen anywhere, "take NYC or Washington DC"! But, I don't go there and if I did I know where not to go (53 and never been mugged by a thief (woman, cat-haul out yards, my nephew, yes-(that little bastard took me for thousands). Down there, except for Colon, and parts of Panama City, I won't really know where the bad spots are for sure.
So a little help please!