I was just bicycling down in Panama last year at this time. Never made the jump to Columbia, but spent some time at the yacht club in Colon, considering the options. Most private ships heading west dock there for a spell to prepare for the Canal transit so its a good location to find a ship heading west (Fiji, NZ, OZ...) (Also very easy to find a free cruise on the Canal itself, because by law all ships need 4 hands to handle rope during the crossing. Sailboats are always looking for help. You could leave your bike in Panama city, take bus to Colon, and sail back to PC.) There is also a commercial port, and by exploring around there, people find passage to Columbia on various sized commercial ships.
Legitimacy of these ships sure does seem to vary, however, and while I was down there I heard of one pretty sketchy situation. I split with some folks I'd been travelling with in Panama City when they decided to find a boat to take them from Colon>Cartagenas. A couple weeks later, I met back up with them in P City at a hostel full of pissed off people. Turns out the captain of a small Cargo ship out of Colon had set up passage for a group of 12 or so travellers, gotten their passports and some cash, and then 'lost' everything.
Anyway, just a caution to choose your captain very very well. And also, when wandering Colon to find a ship, be pretty careful. Its a rough town, especially the port, and I wouldnt recommend being out at night, especially with a fancy motorbike.
[This message has been edited by Universalcat (edited 20 March 2005).]
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