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Old 08-31-2010, 12:48 PM   #1
Misery Goat OP
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The Stahlratte (Steel Rat) Experience - Or how to enjoy crossing the Darien Gap

I'm devoting a thread to the Stahlratte since crossing the Darien is one of the more common queries for folks traveling to and from CA and SA. And in my experience it's simply one of the better options out there for transporting across the Darien Gap.

A link to the ship's website and info is contained in the post below. If you have any info to add or want to share your experience on the ship, feel free.

Cross post from my ride report

The Pan-American Highway ends in Panama and if you want to ride to South America you need to contend with the logistics of the Darien Gap. The ~100 mile strip of undeveloped mountain rainforest and swamplands make it virtually impassible by motor vehicle. That leaves flying and sailing as available transport options for moto riders who aren’t compelled to underwrite an expedition through the Darien to get to Colombia. Both methods come with their logistical challenges and depending on the carrier can be a source of frustration for some travelers. After combing through the stories of other riders and talking with friends I made my decision.

The Stahlratte (German for Steel Rat) was built in 1903 and spent most of its service life as a fishing vessel based out of The Netherlands and Norway. A German nonprofit organization purchased the ship in the 80s and it underwent extensive renovation to become the schooner we know it as today. In 2004 the Stahlratte and crew embarked on a voyage from their home port in Germany to circumnavigate the globe. They’ve been in San Blas, Panama since 2006 spending much of their time ferrying tourists between Panama and Colombia and exploring the beautiful islands of San Blas. When you sail with the Stahlratte you become part of a collective experience that began in the 80s when the concept of the project was born. There are no activities directors on this ship and you’re expected to pitch in and help out with the day-to-day tasks of the ship’s operations. The Stahlratte ain’t no cruise ship and that’s a good thing.

Transporting a motorbike requires some coordination with the captain to ensure you arrive at the dock at the appropriate time (a day prior to sailing). Once there his crew takes over and expertly handle the loading and storage of the bike(s). When in Panama the ship is anchored at Carti (San Blas) and as of August 3, 2010 the road to the dock from the PanAm (turn off is at El Llano) is newly paved and in good condition. I like river crossings so I wasn’t too disappointed the bridge was not yet complete though it appears to be near finished. Our particular trip suffered a setback when the rider (John) I accompanied from Panama City took water in his 12GS while crossing the river and the bike was left incapacitated. We were unable to revive the bike so I made for the dock. I was collected by the ship and the captain made arrangements for a few of the local Kunas to retrieve John and bike by canoe. Once on board the captain made the ship’s tools available to us to work on John’s bike. The captain and crew of the Stahlratte are just the folks you want on the job when plans don’t work out the way you intend.

I thank my friends at advrider for sharing their experiences and recommending the Stahlratte to me. Captain Ludwig and his crew made crossing the gap a highlight of my trip and you can definitely consider them moto friendly.

stahlratte.org

(The road actually goes all the way to the coast but bing maps isn't getting it done)





































































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Old 08-31-2010, 04:01 PM   #2
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I'm devoting a thread .....
Finally......a decent fking post from you.
Very nice, actually.
Please, continue....mas.
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Old 08-31-2010, 04:16 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Lone Rider
Finally......a decent fking post from you.
Very nice, actually.
Please, continue....mas.
+ a kazillion

I'll add a cross-post to the List of Captian's thread.
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Old 08-31-2010, 05:30 PM   #4
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.....I'll add a cross-post to the List of Captian's thread.
The Librarian
by Dean Koontz
Due out sometime in the near future...

"It was 6:00 pm, one hour before closing time on another Friday. Beneath the coiffed hair, moisturized skin, and simple clothing, a war was raging inside his skull, again."
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Old 09-01-2010, 05:55 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Lone Rider
The Librarian
by Dean Koontz
Due out sometime in the near future...

"It was 6:00 pm, one hour before closing time on another Friday. Beneath the coiffed hair, moisturized skin, and simple clothing, a war was raging inside his skull, again."
Hey- I've been doing some adventuring. Like Monday morning, when I was at the hospital at 5:30 AM to help my dad have half of his right lung sucked out through a hole in his back just cuz for the last 50 years he's been smoking 2-3 packs of cigs a day, and last night, when I was in the ICUish Cardio Thoracic Recovery Unit convincing him to let the nurse pull the catheter out of his penis so that he could stand up and piss like a man, and this morning, when we pushed a wheel chair and all his tubes-and-monitors the length of the hall... and back.

Here we are, on the edge of the Darien, near Torti, on the Pan American. That's his landrover. It's parked for him, waiting for him, in Camino de Cruces. As soon as he finished his chemo and radiation, we're going to try out that new road to Carti.

Photo by Barb.

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Old 09-02-2010, 08:22 AM   #6
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"It was 6:00 pm, one hour before closing time on another Friday. Beneath the coiffed hair, moisturized skin, and simple clothing, a war was raging inside his skull, again."
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Old 10-04-2010, 03:42 AM   #7
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Thanks!!!
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Old 08-31-2010, 04:02 PM   #8
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That almost looks too easy Thanks for posted up some of the details.
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Old 05-20-2011, 10:42 AM   #9
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Still the best way to go economically as far as I can tell.

$780 US

Includes 4 nights of lodging, great food, and relaxation in San Blas before transporting to either Cartagena or Panama.

The only additional cost was for alcohol which was very reasonable.
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Old 05-22-2011, 01:23 PM   #10
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The website says it's now gone to $820 but if you want to jump the Gap by sailing vessel this is by far the biggest one out there and the most comfortable boat making the trip.

You can always work out a deal and become a crew member for a while



**Also this is one of the only boats I know of that can get you and your bike to Cuba too
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Old 06-10-2011, 08:43 PM   #11
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Bump up for a cool thread.
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Old 06-10-2011, 09:52 PM   #12
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Bump up for a cool thread.
It ought be about time for you to take a little sailboat trip Bruce, you'd appreaciate the ole Rat too. I'm betting you would just about love Colombia btw
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