Here are a couple of emails from the World Cruising forum on Yahoo that caught my attention:
If you know someone planning to sail to the south
eastern carribean, especially Venezuela, I would
suggest they check out Jimmy Cornell’s Noonsite
and the Carribean Safety and Security Net
websites. We have been lucky so far. Several
boats we know here have been robbed while their
owners were beaten and held with guns to their
heads. Others have been shot. Everyone has had
something stolen. The day our stuff was stolen a
Dutch couple were in their dingy returning to
their boat when one of the many pirogues that
continuosly buzz through the anchorage at full
speed ran them down killing him. Three armed men
tried to enter the marina next to the anchorage
and in a shootout one of the bad guys was hit twice.
A dog onboard might help but we just read in the
Carribean Compass that a boat with a dog was
recently robbed. They shot the dog in the leg
then stabbed it before beating and robbing the
couple. Her hand was serously injured when they
tried to rip off her wedding ring. Fortunately
the dog survived and the ring was so tight they
There is no law enforcement here and no help can
be expected from the authorities. We will be
leaving tomorrow and had planned to stop at Los
Rochies but learned from the web sites above that
the La Costa Guardia themselves have been robbing
yachts there. We will sail at night without
lights to Bonaire.
I really really hate to spread negative
information but in my opinion if you know someone
planning to sail here you must talk them out of it.
And, here’s a response….
Haven’t been to VZ this year but visited in 2006 and summer 2007.
Trying to figure our where this guy is that there is an anchorage neara marina. There is no marina in Porlamar and no anchorage in Puerta La Cruz, which are the 2 areas most frequented by cruisers. At any rate we heard the same type horror stories before we reached VZ each time we visited, and found nothing of the sort once we were there.
Common sense is definitely required. One does not ever anchor alone anywhere (except Chichiriviche was very safe as visitors there are a real novelty and the locals get excited about having you there. In fact, Chichiriviche was the highlight of the entire Caribbean for us.). Cumana has been known for crimes for years and should only be visited in groups of boats, not just a couple of boats. We skipped Cumana.
The only crime this year that I have heard about that surprised everyone was a shooting in Los Testigos. There had never been any problem in Los Testigos prior to this incident. I find it extremely doubtful that La Guardia Costa in Los Roques are robbing boats. Sounds like just another rumor. La Guardia Costs was quite professional in their actions when we were there. The only boats that had any problems were the ones that had already cleared out of VZ but stopped in Los Roques enroute to Bonaire and stayed weeks. Can’t do that. Or they did not pay the Park fee — again because they had already cleared out of VZ. La Guardia Costs does check boats daily in Los Roques just for this reason. Los Roques is a popular vacation destination for wealthy Venezuelans and the local law enforcement is well-provided for, unlike many places on the mainland.
Sailing without lights is downright stupid. Friends did exactly that in VZ waters in Sept 2006 because they had heard all the bad rumors
and thought it would be safer to be unlit. Radar picked up a target closing on them, so they diverted course; and the target diverted also to follow them. This happened several times and our friends began to panic. They finally decided to light up and also took the big flashlight and lit the sails. Then the radar target zoomed up near them. It was La Guardia Costa simply checking on the unlit boat because drug smugglers travel unlit down there. No problem at all for our friends and they resumed sailing with proper lights.
And, on a lighter topic, I mentioned a few days ago that Nordhavn was working on an ad featuring our Sans Souci. It’s still not final, so blame me for any errors you see: