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Wednesday, August 20 2014 @ 02:31 PM EDT

Balboa Yacht Club on Amador in Panama City

FishingOnce upon a time there was a huge wooden building standing right next to the Panama Canal, a well-known landmark to boaters from around the world. The Balboa Yacht Club was a place where you could find line-handlers to get through the canal, find a mechanic to get something fixed, anchor your boat and get a bite to eat, and served as the entry point to the country of Panama for many people for years. The "old" wooden building of the Balboa Yacht Club was destroyed in a fire, but the pier, anchorage, and boat repair facilities still exist. Back in the old days, the "Yacht Club" was a favorite watering hole in the Canal Zone, and I used to love watching the boats going through the canal and the cars going over the Bridge of the Americas with a Soberana in one hand and some ceviche in the other. I've got a good hunch that the "BYC" will be making a comeback...
The original Balboa Yacht Club or "BYC" burned down several years ago. It was a huge wooden building that sat right on the edge of the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal, and the anchorage and pier for the yacht club was right in front of the building. The building is now gone, but boaters still use the anchorage, pier, and repair facilities.


Here's an overview of the BYC facilities.


You can get a great view of the Bridge of the Americas from the yacht club.


The BYC is located right in front of the TGI Friday's and Country Inn hotel on Amador.


All pier facilities on the Pacific side required a floating dock arrangement like this one that can go up and down with the 18' tide. The colors and textures just caught my eye.


Dr. Giuseppe Esposito is an orthopedic surgeon (spinal column specialist) who finds time to take his boat out about two or three times a month. When I was down there taking pictures he was just casting off lines for a day-trip to Taboga. He looks happy enough...


And the doctor's daughter was all smiles for the camera.


Richard Paterson is a mechanic who specializes in fixing yachts.


On the board at the BYC you can always find interesting notes, people looking for crew, line-handlers to get through the canal, stuff like that. So, if you want a free ride to Hawaii you better get down there...


This is all that's left of the famous BYC bar that overlooked the Panama Canal. You can still see the circles in the cement where the tables were, and to the left the outline of where the bar was. This is one prime piece of old cement, and I can't believe no one has done anything with this...


I got there just in time to see the "sling" being lowered to haul a boat out of the water for repairs.


The guys who work here have been doing this for a long time, and have pulled probably thousands of boats out of the water.


Even though, "Tito" never took his eye off of the proceedings. He's been working there for at least 50 years, is the winch operator for the sling, and the recognized "boss".


Slow and steady, out she comes...


So Richard and the other mechanics can see the damage to the bottom of the yacht and begin repairs.


I asked "Tito" how old the winch was, and he told me "I have no idea, but it was old when I got here 50 years ago. We both just keep going..."

I sure hope so.
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