License To Operate A Small Boat With An Outboard Motor - Required By Law

Wednesday, July 18 2012 @ 12:56 PM UTC

Contributed by: Don Winner

By DON WINNER for - Maybe it's just a personal flaw of mine, but people who are stubborn, bone-headed, and simply dense tend to get under my skin. People frequently contact me with questions or issues, particularly in relation to their interactions with local Panamanian government officials. And, when I can or if it's important, I will step in to figure it out and explain the answers I have received. I did this yesterday, and the person who was asking the original questions is still being obstinate. In short, he basically does not seem to want to believe or accept the answers I have obtained. He is now demanding to see the Panamanian laws or regulations governing these issues before he will believe or accept the facts as I have presented them. That's code for "bone head."

Yesterday I received a series of emails from "Capt Ron" in Bocas del Toro. He was all spun up because the local Port Captain in Bocas del Toro, Mr. Dario Vanhorne, issued an announcement on the local VHF Radio network used by the sailboat cruisers to let everyone know Panama's Maritime Authority (AMP) was going to be holding a series of classes next week, so that people can obtain the required license to operate a small boat with an outboard motor in Panamanian waters.

Vanhorne's announcement created some confusion and concerns. As a result, someone (and I don't know if it was Capt Ron who started this or someone else) was disseminating all kinds of incorrect information on these VHF networks. Capt Ron sent me an email - with the email addresses of about 40 other people in the carbon copy section - about the perceived problems. I asked for and received the name and number of the Port Captain in Bocas del Toro, and called him to get an explanation of what was going on.

Mr. Vanhorne explained the truth and facts to me, which I published in this article yesterday morning: Small Craft With Outboard Motor License Course - 23 to 28 July 2012 in Bocas del Toro. Among the points of false or otherwise incorrect information cleared up by this article, include;

And This Is Where The "Bone Head" Part Comes In: If you read the article I published yesterday, it's pretty clear anyone using a small boat in Panamanian waters is required by law to have one of these licenses. Capt Ron began harping on his requirement to "see the law" - and in fact I simply didn't want to spend any more time on this issue. However it became clear to me this one individual was going to continue to completely confuse people by repeating wrong, incorrect, and false information. So, here are the laws, resolutions, and regulations which govern these issues in the Republic of Panama --

Now, I'm Really, Really Done With This: Poorly informed individuals with hidden agendas spreading half-truths or rumors salted with fear mongering is a blatant disservice to the entire community of English speaking expatriates in Panama as a whole, and the community of sailboat cruisers as a sub-set. There is no doubt whatsoever that anyone who resides in Panama who regularly and routinely uses a boat with an outboard motor as part of their daily activities - be it in Bocas del Toro, Guna Yala, on the Pacific Ocean, or anywhere else - is required to have of these licenses. Capt Ron said "show me the law" so there it is. And no, I am not going to take the time to translate this for you - because I'm anticipating the next childish response. So feel free to read it - don't read it - translate it - don't translate it - I could care less. If you decide to attend this class and get your license, then fine. If you decide to not attend this class and not get your license, then you will have to deal with the consequences. The local government officials who work in the office of the Port Captain for the Panama Maritime Authority know exactly who are the long term residents of Bocas del Toro who need to have these licenses. Therefore, if you fail to obtain the required license (because you want to be an obstinate bone head) then do not be surprised when they fine you, issue you a ticket, and potentially confiscate your boat if you continue to flagrantly operate it without a license in violation of the law. And when that happens (and, it will) DO NOT write to me to bitch about it. Now, with all of that having been said, for real - I'm out. Of course, I have no doubt this entire thing will now be turned around, and I'll be made the bad guy. Whatever, I could care less. If you have any other questions about this requirement to obtain a license, contact Mr. Dario Vanhorne in the Port Captain's office of the AMP at 757-9447.

Copyright 2012 by Don Winner for Go ahead and use whatever you like as long as you credit the source. Salud.

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