Read more about Colon

May13

Trucks Held Hostage in Port Freed by Squeeze Team

Our trucks were being held hostage by the Manzanillo port workers in Panama who refused to load our trucks as they were afraid they would damage the trucks. They also refused to allow us to personally drive the trucks into a container and our trucks were stuck in no man’s land, officially stamped out of Panama yet unable to be loaded onto a ship to leave Panama. Serious negotiations had to be done by our shipping agent Julio. Julio came through like a trooper and after several days of tense negotiations we were heading back to the port to try drive the trucks into the container ourselves.

Julio C Sánchez Logistics Specialist, PSLI-Panamá Soluciones Logísticas SA

Tom and Logan Waiting for Green Light at Colón Port

Shaun from Panama Passage drove Tom and Logon to Colón while Brianna and I waited back in Panama City. It was a complicated process between the different ports, different customs, and port officials but finally they had our trucks out of no man’s land at the Manzanillo Port and headed to another Panama Port to load our trucks into a container.

Heading to Other Port

What!! Flip Flops in Port

Once they arrive at the container and it is opened they too wondered, will they fit the trucks in. The team discusses their options as it is such a tight fit they had to devise a plan of how the driver will get out once he has driven the truck into the container. It was decided that the best person to drive both trucks into the container would be Logan as he is fit, healthy, flexible and slim all a requirement as he was going to have to climb out of the truck windows and pull himself up and over the roof of the campers.

Our Container and Truck Meet Each Other

Logan Wondering Will The Trucks FIt

Lining Up the Nissan

Finally they were ready. Tom guided Logan into the truck, it would take 4 attempts to get the Nissan lined up exactly right. There was only inches to spare on each side and no room for error.

Tom Guiding Logan

Logan All Concentration

Put Truck into Low Range and Give Gas

No Room for Error

The Nissan inched into the container, driving it slowly Logan put it into low range so that the truck could slowly get up and into the container without bouncing. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief, the truck made it into the container.

Going

Going

Gone and In

Then everyone waited to see if Logan would make it out of the container. Logan climbed up and out to everyones relief.

Where is Logan?

Logan On Roof Squeezing Himself Out

Rest Time But Still Need to Drive Logan’s Truck into Container

Finally both trucks are in the container. They are lashed in and the doors locked. Time for the team to relax and celebrate the joys of travel. Once back in Panama City flights were booked to Colombia and tomorrow night we will celebrate our arrival in Cartegena Colombia.

Squeeze Team Tom and Logan

Squeeze Team Member Shaun

See You Again In Colombia

Logan Hero Driver and Squeeze Team Captain

Colombia and South America here we come!!

 

The only way anyone can truly appreciate the loading however it to watch the video below and ask yourself the question, could I do this? Enjoy

YouTube Preview Image

 

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May8

Shipping Panama to Colombia -Trucks Stuck in Port

Scientists can get men to the moon but can’t get a truck across the Darien Gap. They can build a shipping canal 77km (48 miles) linking the Pacific Ocean with the Atlantic Ocean that takes oil tankers, container and cruiser ships over the continental divide lifting them 85 feet above sea level but they can’t build a road across the Darien Gap.

The Darien Gap is a large undeveloped mixture of swampland and forest linking Central and South America. It measures just over 160km (99 miles) long and 50km (31 miles) wide. There is no road across this swath of land, that joins Central and South America. The only way to cross from Central America to South America is to ship one’s vehicle. The most common route is shipping from Panama to Colombia, which is not long, it only takes a day to cross the Atlantic Ocean however, to arrange this shipping can take up to several days even weeks.

Panama Canal Engineering Marvel

There are several shipping companies and several options for shipping. Our first choice was to ship the Nissan and camper in a container. The other options are either RORO (roll on roll off) and LOLO (Lift on lift off). The cheapest and safest option is a container. Logan and Brianna who are also driving to Argentina were looking for someone to share a 40’ high cube container with, and we were ready so agreed to share a container with them.

Preparing Nissan For Shipping

Our shipping from Panama to Colombia has turned into an adventure with our trucks held hostage in the port by workers this is our story.

Step 1; Measure the trucks and campers to make sure they will fit into a container.

Step 2; Remeasure the trucks and campers to make doubly sure they will fit into a container.

Step 3; Choose an Agent. With our measurements done the next step is to get quotes from several shipping companies and agencies. Emails are flying, phone calls are made and finally a decision; we choose our agent Julio C Sanchez of PSLI – Panama Soluciones Logisticas SA. He comes to meet us and Logan and Brianna at Panama Passage and we discuss the process.

 

Julio Shipping Agent with Tom

Step 4; Police inspection and clearance. They only check vehicles between 10-11am, so we head there early to ensure we make it. They check all our truck permits and documents.

Police Inspection

Step 5; We head to have the trucks washed for some reason they need to be cleaned if going into a container. We have lunch in a grimy restaurant while we wait for the vehicles to be washed. Cost US$5.00 a good deal as both trucks were dirty.

Trucks Waiting to be Washed

Getting A Must Needed Clean

Nissan and Camper Look Like New

Step 6; We head back to the Secretary General for final police clearance we have to be there at 1430. We get the all clear no traffic violations or accidents registered against the trucks.

Julio phones to say we are booked to load the trucks on Tuesday and will be heading to the Colon Port located on the Atlantic side of Panama.

Step 7; Prepare the trucks and camper to fit into a shipping container. Recently Panama Ports decided that owners cannot drive their vehicles into the container. We have to hand over the truck keys to port workers. So we move everything from the truck cab into the camper. We remove the roof rack, dismantle it to fit into the camper. It takes a day to organize this

George Helps Removing and Dismantling Roof Rack

Step 8; We all drive to Colon, following Julio. Once we arrive at the port, we learn there are actually 3 separate ports in Colon, each privately owned with their own rules and regulations.  We park our trucks at the port all climb into Julio’s car and head off to do the paperwork and documentation.

Step 9; Documentation is taken care of by Julio, we get our permits to load and obtain our container seal, we get permission to go to customs , get our permits to drive the trucks in Panama cancelled in our passports.

Julio Does Paperwork

We Wait Tom Brianna and Logan

Entering Customs

Port Customs in Colon

More Waiting Now in Customs

Step 10; Final preparation of truck we remove the fuel carrier from the Nissan truck and place it in the cab. We had to wait to do this as we could not drive far with the fuel carrier in the cab. Oops we have problem, the jacks to support the camper had been removed for shipping and we needed them back on to remove the fuel carrier. Logan and Tom make a stout effort to quickly reconnect the jacks, remove the fuel carrier and then remove the jacks. We are ready!

OH Shit Jacks Need to Go Back On

Reattaching Jacks

Unbolting Fuel Carrier

Logan Decreasing Height by Deflating Wheel

Step 11; We drive to customs. It is now lunch time and so we wait in the sweltering sticky  heat of Colon. Finally the customs officials arrive, they clear us and now the final step before handing over the keys. The drug dog arrives to sniff for illegal substances. The best part of the day I get to pat a lovely German Shepherd dog.

Arriving at Customs at Port for Checks

Waiting Until Lunch is Over

Drug Dog Arrives

No Drugs To Be Found

Step 12; We hand over the keys and leave the port with Julio head back to Panama for a celebration supper. 

NOW THE GLITCH

We go out for supper with other Overlanders from Panama Passage and while waiting for our orders to arrive we get the phone call to say the port workers are refusing to drive our trucks into the containers and no we cannot drive our trucks into the containers (port rules). The reason given is they feel it is too tight a squeeze and are afraid of damaging the vehicles.  Our trucks are stuck in “no mans land” in the port and we will miss the loading onto the ship.

Step 13. We review our options with Julio. We can try to load at another port and book onto another ship, but wait a minute we no longer have permits to drive the trucks in Panama and we would have to retrieve our trucks from Manzanillo port and drive to another port.  There is no guarantee the other port would allow us to try drive the trucks into the container ourselves, however Julio can hire his own team to drive the trucks into the container. Other option is to go RORO.

Shaun, Tom, Katerina in Restaurant

Peter, Espen and Vincent Celebrating

Malin, Janet and Andrea

Heading Home After News of No Go

Step 14 Decision made we will try to go to another port and get onto a ship scheduled to  leave on the 16th if that does not work we will go RORO on a ship scheduled to leave on the 20th. Julio agrees to undo and redo paperwork and books us onto both ships. We will cancel the RORO if we manage to get our trucks onto the ship on the 16th.

Step 15 We wait to hear from Julio when we will be allowed to move our trucks to other port and try reload.

Step 16 Drink beers, eat, sleep, watch movies and wait: will we or will we not get onto the ship leaving on the 16th?

Panama City Are We Having Fun Yet

Overlander Friends in Pictures

Logan and Brianna USA heading south to Argentina (Toyota)

Blog PanAmNotes

http://panamnotes.com/

Espen and Malin Norwegian driving from Alaska to Argentina (Nissan)

Blog UnUrban

http://www.unurban.no/

George and Andrea Germans driving south to Argentina (Toyota)

Blog Toyotours

http://www.toyotours.com/Weltreise/Home.html

Peter UK Driving south on motorbike to Argentina

Blog 2continents2wheels

http://s271805707.websitehome.co.uk/2w2c/2w2c.html

Vince USA Heading back north on Motorbike, spent nearly 2 yrs in South America

Blog South on Two Wheels

http://www.rattlesnakeobservatory.com/wordpress/

Shaun Manager of Panama Passage Overlander Resource Centre in Panama

http://www.PanamaPassage.com

 

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