by Brandon Milford
The yachting industry in Bocas Del Toro is growing; each hurricane season brings more and more boats to the area. Far from the spiraling arms of these northern storms Bocas is a welcome site for cruisers and their insurance policies. Yet with influx comes a need for amenities and services for the boats and their crews. Welcome to Bocas Yacht Services, born and designed in the mind of long time Bocas resident and developer Courtney Parks. This facility has been a long time in the making and was conceived around the same time Bocas Yacht Club and Marina came to fruition. Courtney spent a vast amount of time bringing this facility to operational level and his experience in the cruising world shows in every aspect.
The next closest boat yard to Bocas Del Toro is in Colon and then on to Cartagena, Columbia, which is one of the main reasons Bocas Yacht Services (BYS) was established. Now, if you are anchored in the archipelago or tied up at one of the marinas and are in distress or just need a quick haul bottom job you can make the easy run over to Almirante. Unlike other yards, BYS opens its doors to anyone who desires to do the work him or herself. Let’s be honest, most cruisers are pretty savvy, hands on type of personalities, so why pay someone else to do the work you can do yourself. If you are not a do-it-yourselfer BYS has a very capable staff that can tackle any project.
Bocas Yacht Services is a full service yard with a 60-ton travel lift, 15-ton mobile lift with telescopic arm and all the frills needed to service your boat while it is out of the water. The facility has electricity, water, shower/bath and numerous small storage units. In the near future, there are plans to build two small studio apartments for people to stay while working on their boats. Until that time, Almirante has three economical hotels that are very comfortable if you choose not to travel back and forth between the yard and Isla Colon. There are several great options if you need a bite to eat in town and I recommend Tia Delisiosa on the main corner or La Cabana at the ferry dock. At first sight, Almirante might not appear inviting, but let me reassure you it is a beautiful little town in so many ways. Though as with most port towns, there are spots better left untraveled at night and keeping your whit about you at all times is always a safe bet. During my time there working on the yard I had the pleasure of meeting many great and truly warm people. It is best not to judge a book by its cover and the small port town of Almirante is no exception to the rule. Never the less, BYS knows that your boat is your life, so the facility is fenced, lighted, and guarded 24 hours a day and beware of Chocolate, the Pit-Bull!
If you have a boat and are in the area long-term or just passing through, stop by BYS and talk to yard manager Carl Meredith or Courtney as either would be happy to share more information. You can hop on a water taxi for the beautiful 30-minute ride over to the main land and have a look at this world-class boat yard. Once in Almirante, grab a cab and direct them to the Astillero/Boat Yard or call in advance (which is recommended and use the established drivers) for a look around. While over there you might as well take advantage of cheaper groceries or head up to Changinola and treat yourself to MacDonald’s. No matter what your yacht, large panga or fishing boat needs, Bocas Yacht Services has it all! Stop in and see for yourself this great new resource to the area.