Apparently there was a problem with nowhere to go for Yachts in Panama City a few years back. That seems not to be a problem any more.
There are 3(4) places for yachts to go in Panama City. One marina, some moorings and an anchorage.
Option one - Balboa YC moorings
Balboa YC's Tender
These are moorings just off the Yacht Club, just beyond the Bridge of the Americas. They're awfully full. I've heard it said that Balboa Yacht Club exists solely for to extract cash from transiting yachts. There are some local boats here, but little else. The old club burned down in the 90s. A new bar/restaurant has replaced it. The moorings are serviced by a small home made motor boat. Which is fast and efficient. There is no dinghy dock. The fuel dock seems reticent about actually allowing people along side.
You can drop your fenders (tiers) off here. The boat will dispose of them (ship 'em back to colon probably) for a dollar each. According to the guide they listen on 63 and 6. They don't. I did notice a VHF on 6 in the office but they never responded. There is a big sign saying "VHF CHANNELS" and no numbers.
Should you wish to use the guy with the trolley to trundle stuff down the long jetty thats another 2 bucks....
There are no slips here, no shops, only the yacht club restaurant and a TGI Fridays
Overview of the area, blatantly stolen off a postcard
Option two - Flamenco Marina
This services the local sports fishing boats, apart from the ARC world. It is totally devoid of yachts. There's paid for wifi here. It doesn't work at time of writing, but what marina wifi does? There's free wifi at Bennagens irish themed american resteraunt.
I've been told its rude unfriendly and expensive.
It does have a fuel dock, with diesel, petrol and water. They reportedly listens on VHF channel 10 and take cards, no English spoken (diesel about $2:67US 2010)
Option three - Isla Flamenco anchorage (aka La Plyita)
Dinghy Dock at Flamenco
$31 US a week free water
Almost everyone will go here. Its much developed from what appears in the Pilot. A new wall has been built enclosing the inner part of the bay. This is still not shown on charts or even google earth.
Many bars and restaurants cluster the shore. On the left as you go around the wall is a dinghy dock. I've been told you have to pay. Nobody's charged us.(EDIT 2010 fee is $31.50 US a week) Note the dinghy dock grounds at low tide (not happening Feb 2010). All dinghies are at the leeward end. Do NOT use the windward end or your dinghy will go under the dock when it grounds and will be crushed when the tide comes back in.
This dock is used extensively by large tourist boats and ferries and as a fuel dock. Dinghy's will get crushed if on the outside.
There is an expensive barlett here only sells beer in the tin (has a VHF which is handy). A chandlers, mostly aimed at the sports fishing motor boat/Sport fishing boat market. Good selection of stainless bolts and similar, some shackles ground tackle etc. Fishing Lures. The office has a VHF and will sell you diesel (come in at high tide) $2.7 US a US gallon Feb 2010. Might be listening on VHF 9.
You can dump tiers here after a transit for $1US each. A sloth lives in the trees on the way to the gate.
Anchorage notes: Ships and tourist boats etc steam past hard some times. Resulting in large rolls (we just broke a plate from the washing up). In addition those coming from the Caribbean may have forgotten about tides. The Tide here can be 5 meters, and goes bellow the datum according to win x tide. You will also swing. The wind here is not steady like you may have gotten used to in the Caribbean. However nobody's dragged while we've been here.
EDIT: 2010 if the wind goes south, even as little as 18 knots this Anchorage is mayhem! Too many boats in peak transit season. Big swells read this account for a description. Many boats dragging banging - difficult dinghy trip.
Option Four - Opposite Flamenco Anchorage (AKA La Plyita).
Panama City viewed from Isla Flamenco
Moorings have appeared here, and some
boats at Anchor. 2010 area right of pic
is being developed and has a dinghy dock
costs $5US a day
Some moorings have appeared on the Panama City side (north) of La Plyita, boats are also anchoring over there. There is a dinghy dock ($5US a day).
See picture and notes Right >>>>>
Under prevailing winds this is a lee shore, but the fetch is small. When a southerly blew up and the main anchorage was carnage several boats moved here.
There are 2 chandeliers around. The one in La Plyita, and another on the Causeway.
Brannegan's near the Marina has free wifi, when it works (not now[or now 2010), the Perco Shopette has very fast free wifi and beers at $1US, when it works I.E. for about 30 minutes after you get the girl behind the counter to reset it.
Other Panama City Tips
A taxi ride to the centre from Isla Flamenco costs between $8 and $10. VISA debit cards DO NOT WORK reliably in ATMs in Panama, reportedly VISA credit cards in ATMs cost a lot too. Also my bank currently lists Panama as the top of the list of dodgy counties, and they put a temp block on my card. Ring you branch and tell 'em your coming here. What you can't call your branch? Change bank! Travellers cheques can be changed in banks. One didn't even charge me anything for it. There is also a bus to the centre for 25 cents.
On the road into town is a company called Protecsa (507)227-3533 who specialise in Hydraulics, and are Simrad Agents. The Boss (Roger?) speaks excellent English and I can recommend them.
There is a rigger called Mike Barker Telephone 672 767 22 I've not met him so can't say what he's like.
There is an immigration office upstairs in the Mall at Flamenco. If you did the paperwork right in Colon (we didn't) you may be able to pop in and see him and leave. Probably not though. To clear out you will have to go to the container port at Balboa and see the Port Captain. NOTE: you need to Clear IN to Balboa I.E. Panama City even if you've cleared in from Colon when you transit! Insane and not well explained system. If and its a big if, you got it all right at Colon you should not have to pay except weekends overtime rate.