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BBQ Store now open next to BanRural E-mail
The News - Latest News

The BBQ Store with manager Alejandra Espana
The BBQ Store with manager Alejandra Espana
Photos by Silvia Marilu Aldana
New in Rio Dulce, the BBQ Store is now open for business.

Located in the Centrol Comercial Don Diego next to Gaby’s Bazar and to one side of BanRural, the BBQ Store offers just about everything you’ll need for delicious barbecues at your residence or on your boat.

Manager Alejandra Espana said the store now stocks a variety of USDA beef, sausage, cheese, salami as well as an assortment of German beers, mineral water, sauces, rubs as well as a selection of sugar free products, prosciutto and more.

Spices, sauces, rubs at the new BBQ Store
Spices, sauces, rubs at the new BBQ Store

Other items imported from Australia, Canada and the USA include chicken, hamburger, chicken fingers, ready to fry potatoes, chicken & cheese nuggets, Oakcreek bacon, bbg ribs and Argentine sausages.

Alejandra also notes thate the store now stocks Angus ground meat and tuna steak.

Open daily Monday – Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (closed Sundays), the BBQ Store can be contacted at 7930 5748.

Hurricane season on the Rio Dulce E-mail
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Enjoy the Rio Dulce and Lago Izabal
Enjoy the Rio Dulce and Lago Izabal

By Capt. John Brandes
The Rio Dulce is world famous as one of the best hurricane holes in the Western hemisphere. 

The main marina area is located 20 miles from the Atlantic and because of the long distance from the sea the area is protected from tidal surge.  Mountain ranges along the northern Honduran coast make it near impossible for hurricane winds to enter the area. 

The closest a major hurricane has ever come to the area was hurricane Mitch in 1998 which had maximum sustained winds of 180 MPH.  The Rio Dulce experienced torrential rainfall but winds were only reported as nothing to a slight breeze.

For boats that have insurance, most policies exclude coverage in an area defined by what the insurers call "the box" from damages which are the result of a "numbered or named storm".  Lloyds of London has deliberately defined "the box" to exclude the Rio Dulce area so that vessels moored here during hurricane are covered in all events.

Some years as many as 1,000 boats come to the Rio Dulce to "hole up" for the season and as a result a large support community has developed.  We have qualified technicians for mechanical, refrigeration, electrical, electronic, canvas, fiberglass, woodwork, paint and varnish. 

There are now three haul out facilities capable of handling anything from 20 feet to over 100 feet. Parts and equipment can be easily obtained locally or by import.

s/v Windy Dancer
s/v Windy Dancer

There are currently fourteen marinas on the Rio Dulce registered as "Tourist Marina's" and this is where most visiting boats will stay.  Many people come to stay for the entire season; others leave their boats to be stored while they return to their home countries. 

Most all marinas permit live aboards and some offer both in the water and dry storage.

I am often asked which is best, dry storage (on the hard) or in the water and there are plusses and minuses to both.  I will attempt to explain my opinion on this subject.

Each of the haul out facilities provide dry storage.  Two have travel lifts and the third has a hydraulic trailer system. 

The good points of dry storage are that the boat can't sink and if there is bottom work to be done it is already out of the water. 

However some very serious problems can develop over the dry storage period that should be considered.

First is the issue of water intrusion from above. 


INGUAT rescinds previous ruling E-mail
The News - Latest News

INGUATE reps rescind previous ruling for boaters
INGUAT reps rescind previous ruling for boaters
By Capt. John Brandes
Photos by Eugenio Gobbato

On Friday March 28 there was a meeting at Nana Juana that was hosted by the Guatemala Ministry of Tourism (INGUAT) where it was announced that the rule regarding vessels having to leave the country for three months has been rescinded and the old system will be implemented.

This is very good news for all.

The rule that will take effect April 1 is as follows:

1. Boats when initially entering Guatemala from abroad will receive a cruising permit valid for three (3) months. The cost for this permit will be $50.00 US dollars plus Q60.00 (about $7.80 US).

2. Boats who wish to remain longer have the option to obtain an additional nine (9) month permit at a cost of $150.00 US Dollars.

3. Boats who wish to remain after the first 12 months as described above may obtain a permit to remain an additional 12 months at a cost of $150.00 US Dollars.

4. The extension described above for periods beyond the initial 12 month period may be renewed each 12 months thereafter indefinitely for a fee of $150.00 US Dollars. These extensions also require that the vessel be located in an INGUAT registered marina and there must be a contract with the marina.
March 28 meeting at Nana Juana
March 28 meeting at Nana Juana

There is no requirement that vessels leave the country for three (3) months or any other period to qualify for these extensions.

Eugenio Gobbato of Hacienda Tijax commented, “Basically they (INGUAT) announced the Mechanism for boat papers extension which they say the worked as a group under orders from the President himself and came to the conclusion that the previous msistem was the best and it was "legally" still in effect.  Changes were made only as a matter of interpetation and not in  substance of the law so now they presented us this little flyer with the step by step process.”

The fees stated above are SAT fees and do not include fees that may be charged by immigration or an agent.Image

Another thing that was mentioned at the meeting is the image of Guatemala in the International community. Because only the bad things that happen get reported in the media and social networks, the world has a very distorted view of what Guatemala really is.

I continuously have people arrive here for the first time and after a few days or weeks tell me "This is not at all what I expected Guatemala to be like".

We need everybody's help to get the message out that there is some really good things about Guatemala as well. We are asking that people share their good experiences about Guatemala on social media.

Also INGUAT has provided some web links that they would like people to share on youtube, facebook, and twitter which I have shared below:



Calypso Marina -- tranquil, well protected E-mail
The News - Latest News

Calypso Marina - secure, peaceful dockage
Calypso Marina - secure, peaceful dockage
One of the best locations on the Rio Dulce, Calypso Marina is situated in the Laguna La Joya (ex-Susana’s Laguna) with nice and calm waters.

You will not be affected by waves or wakes and your vessels shall be very well protected in all weather conditions.

The marina offers secure dockage with 110/220v and purified water. Calypso Marina has direct road access with a very wide parking space. It has a haul-out facility for small crafts with dry dockage, a 24 hour security system and lightning protection.

Laundry and storage facilities are also available. Restaurant and BBQ area will soon be added to make your stay at the marina ever more pleasant and relaxing.

Road access, parking for vehicles
Road access, parking for vehicles

Calypso Marina has daily, weekly and monthly rates.

Visit their website HERE or contact them by telephone at 502 5728 7829 or 507 6440 3585

GPS coordinates are N15.650 W88.995

En Español

El mejor lugar en Río Dulce.  Calypso Marina está situada en la laguna La Joya (ex-Susana Laguna) con aguas tranquilas, lo que hace que su embarcación esté bien protegida de las olas y de las inclemencias del tiempo.

La marina ofrece atraques seguros con electricidad 110/220v y agua potable. Calypso Marina tiene acceso directo para autos, con un amplio estacionamiento.  Tenemos facilidades de arrastre para barcos pequeños, sistema de seguridad las 24 horas con protección luminaria. 

Tenemos facilidades de lavandería y almacenaje. 

Pronto contaremos con un restaurante y área para barbacoa para hacerle su estancia, en la marina, más placentera y agradable.

Los esperamos en Calypso Marina.

Visita la pagina web a  http://www.calypsomarina.com/  o telefono 502 5728 7829 oo 507 6440 3585

GPS coordinates son N15.650 W88.995

Abel's to add propeller shop & more E-mail
The News - Latest News

By Julia Bartlett

Abel's Boat Yard --Where Generations of Experience and Family Tradition Meet Today’s Technology


That was my reaction when I discovered the new developments waiting to be unveiled at Abel’s Boat Yard. 

I had been wondering about the wooden structure appearing over the water in front of the hard standing, now I was going to find out.

The most exciting thing is the new machine shop  which has been built to house a propeller balancing machine amongst other new services.  It will be able to handle props up to 60” wide, perhaps a little more than most of us need.

At present, props have to be sent to Miami to be balanced which adds to the cost.

The machine shop will also offer repairs and servicing for outboard motors and carry spares for the most popular makes.

Fronting the street, over a useful grocery store and, most important, an Ice Cream Shop, are three new apartments which are going to have air conditioning, full kitchen and bathroom and two bedrooms.

Soon to be completed -- a boaters hangout area with wi-fi
Soon to be completed -- a boaters hangout area with wi-fi

Abel anticipates that they will be used by folks with their boats on the hard and visiting mechanics. 

Fronteras is a Q4 tuc-tuc ride away.

The new wooden structure is going to be a hang out complete with wi-fi, open to the afternoon breeze and with a stunning view all the way to the bridge.

Three new apartments available to boaters
Three new apartments available to boaters
The yard already has an 85 ton travel lift, two 150 ton railways and a 75 ton railway and can handle catamarans up to 32 feet wide.  They offer a wide range of services from sand blasting to painting, fabrication in metal and fiberglass, and toe rails to radar arches and much more.

New inventory at West Marine store E-mail
The News - Latest News

Check out the new inventory at RAM's West Marine store
Check out the new inventory at RAM's West Marine store
Once you enter the new West Marine store located above the RAM Marina convenience store, you might think you've entered a stateside West Marine location.

The brightly lit and airconditioned store is very well stocked with marine products such as fenders, epoxy, sealants, clothing, boaters shoes, paint, stainless steel bolts, screws, fitting, bilge pumps, float switches, kayaks, wet exhaust hose, a variety of fiberglass cloth, inflatable dinghy sealant & cleaner -- and the list goes on and on.

RAM Marina manager Karen de Lopez said they won't be stocking many electronic components such as marine GPS, radar, VHF radios or sonar units since these items evolve quickly with current models being replaced by newer units.

But she says any item in the West Marine catalog can be quickly ordered and shipped.

Store manager is the lovely and friendly Jessica, who speaks excellent English as well as Spanish.

The West Marine Store is open 7 days a week: Monday - Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday & Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Image

Click on Read More below for more photos.
Yacht services available at Bocas del Toro E-mail
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Bocas Yacht Club & Marina
Bocas Yacht Club & Marina
By Ray Jason

It has been about two years since I sailed out of the
Rio and headed for Bocas del Toro, Panama.  Since then a few of my Rio Dulce friends have arrived in Bocas and have been delighted by the cruising wonderland that they have discovered here. 

Some of them suggested that I pass the word along via the Chisme-Vindicator.

Bocas del Toro is an archipelago on the Caribbean side of Panama only about 30 miles from the Costa Rican border.  It is comprised of nine big islands and hundreds of smaller ones. 

Some of the outer islands provide a barrier that turns the area into a comfortable inland sea.  Waves rarely exceed knee height and at their worst are generally only waist high. 

And the icing on the cruising cake is the fact that Panama is well below the hurricane belt and has never been hit by one.

There is a flourishing ex-pat community scattered around the islands, many of whom are former sailors who have thrown out the hook because they found it so alluring here. 

Cruising around to visit friends and attractions is extremely safe with only one boarding in the 9 years since I first started coming here. 

There are so many things to do and see in the area that one almost never has to beat to windward.  Just pick another destination where the sailing is smoother. 

There are monkeys and toucans and sloths in the foreground and mountains and volcanoes in the background.  Some superb beaches and nice reefs also vie for your attention. 

The little town of Bocas del Toro is mellow and un-gentrified.  The main road is like a bike path compared to Frontera.  You don’t have to look up the bridge and hope that the brakes on oncoming truck don’t fail. 

The town is full of locals and Indios and backpackers and surfers and sailors - an eclectic and fun-loving blend.

Almost any need a cruiser might have can easily be met here.  There are good grocery and hardware stores.  The phone service and internet is excellent and there is now a Mail Boxes Etc for small deliveries. 

Billy in the boatyard
Billy in the boatyard
For bigger items there is a Marine Warehouse service that allows one to pick items from West Marine and other catalogs and have it ocean shipped down here.  It usually takes about 5 weeks until arrival.   

But the BIG NEWS in Bocas del Toro these days is the opening of a full-service American owned and operated boatyard.  It took SEVEN (that’s not a typo – SEVEN) years of bureaucratic purgatory for Courtney Parks, the owner, to shepherd the haul-out through the permitting labyrinth. 

But he has finally succeeded; and it is a very nice facility.  The 60 ton travel-lift can handle boats up to 20 feet wide.  They also have a crane on the premises. 

Do it yourselfers can wail away at their dream projects or you can hire the reasonably priced yard workers to sand and paint the bottom. 

They also offer electrical, painting, welding and other miscellaneous services.  Check out all that they offer at: www.bocasboatyard.com.

Woman's Day at Vista Rio March 8 E-mail
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Int'l Woman's Day Saturday at Vista Rio
Int'l Woman's Day Saturday at Vista Rio
By encor

International Women's Day (8 March) is an occasion marked by women's groups around the world. This date is also commemorated at the United Nations and is designated in many countries as a national holiday.


When women on all continents, often divided by national boundaries and by ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic and political differences, come together to celebrate their Day, they can look back to a tradition that represents at least nine decades of struggle for equality, justice, peace and development.

International Women's Day is the story of ordinary women as makers of history; it is rooted in the centuries-old struggle of women to participate in society on an equal footing with men. In ancient Greece, Lysistrata initiated a sexual strike against men in order to end war; during the French Revolution, Parisian women calling for "liberty, equality, fraternity" marched on Versailles to demand women's suffrage.

The idea of an International Women's Day first arose at the turn of the century, which in the industrialized world was a period of expansion and turbulence, booming population growth and radical ideologies.Image

This Saturday, March 8, again marks International Women's Day.  Maybe you never recognized this, thinking it was only an anniversary for the Ocho de Marzos.   NOT TRUE

You can google and find a gazillion reasons to pay attention to this date, if you care about things like women and men united to end violence against women and girls.   That doesn't interest you?   How about equal rights and opportunities,  or gender equality?  Do you care about pedophilia?

The local Guatemalan women are interested in this now, check the Prensa Libre,  and we would like to support them.  They have had a hard time finding any equality or fairness in most of their daily lives.

Can you help? Do you want to help?

Come by Vista Rio this Saturday afternoon, 2-ish.  We would  like to have some intelligent conversations about how we may be able to make a difference.

If you wear something purple, you get a free purple drink. (would that be vino tinto?)  If you are a guy and show up in support of Int'l. Women's Day,  you get a GREAT surprise, too.  Teacher John suggests you wear a dress....I can't imagine what that reward might be.

Guess you gotta show up.


Interview with Guatemala Medical Travel E-mail
The News - Latest News

Image(Editor’s Note: The following is an interview by the magazine Que Pasa with Lori Shea, founder of Guatemala Medical Travel, in the magazine’s November, 2013 issue.)

 1.       Using an international medical advocate is a totally new concept in health care. Why do patients need the services of Guatemala Medical Travel?

 Anyone who has ever hired a good financial planner, defense attorney, real estate agent or security consultant understands the value of having a professional insider on their side, to guide their choices, saving time and money, and ultimately assuring the best possible outcome. We have the contacts and organizational skills to effectively negotiate every detail of the process, offering VIP medical services in Guatemala, generously and sincerely, at a fraction of the price you might pay in the United States. 

If you spend $24,000 on a kitchen renovation, for example, you would want to hire a contractor who knows the best in the business and can put it all together seamlessly. By the way, that’s the price of open-heart surgery or cancer tumor removal and radiation therapy in Guatemala. Which would be more important to you? Image

2.       How and when was the Guatemala Medical Travel started?

Years ago, I was helping my friends in Rio Dulce to find medical care here, and the level of medical skills and expertise that I found in Guatemala City was astounding.  The patients, my friends, were amazed to be treated with such respect, compassion and patience by a globally qualified medical specialist.  When several other friends started arriving here for surgeries, paying medical expenses at 60-90% less than U.S. prices, I recognized this as a tremendously valuable resource that more international patients need to know about.  I developed the concept, researched the global industry of medical tourism, then wrote and designed the website.  We went live online in November 2009.

3.       Where do your clients come from?

There is a huge level of trust involved with traveling to another country for major surgery, so it’s only natural that most clients are personal friends or former business associates who already know and trust me.  Others are savvy internet researchers who tell me that they contacted medical agents in several countries, and GMT is the only one that responds quickly and professionally.  After patients experience the care and prices we offer in Guatemala, many return for additional medical procedures, and send their friends here too.

Image4.       What makes GMT different from other medical tourism companies?

We have spent many years establishing professional relationships with the absolute best doctors in the country, and we trust them completely.  It’s like having a friend take your hand, introduce you to all the best contacts, and stay by your side throughout every procedure.  Other medical tourism companies sell surgical procedures in many different countries and know nothing about the quality of care that the physicians provide. They sell hospital services based on who pays the most for advertising placement and patient referrals. The staff of GMT lives here and works here every day, so we know Guatemalan medical providers better than anyone.

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