We spent one season sailing from Fl to Grenada, used the boat for three years in the Eastern Caribbean during vacations and then spent Nov 2010 to June 2011 sailing to Panama
, through the canal and to Pacific Costa Rica
During all of this we did not have even ONE incident. We "heard" of some, but nothing personal. We loved every place we visited, including the Venezuelan out-islands, Colombia
, etc. Every place has something different so I agree with reading the guides. Looking for peace and quiet? Well, don't go to Aruba! However, we were there during carnival and that was a big party. Love scuba
or windsurfing? - don't miss Bonaire
.....and so on.
Stay away from Los Testigos, Margarita and the Venezuelan mainland - then just be as vigilant as you would be anywhere else and you should be ok. Yes you could simply be unlucky, but most likely nothing will happen- just like in any big city, unless you look for trouble.
We found officialdom universally friendly, If you allow them... Don't be the big shot- you are visiting their country and even if you think it is a banana rep.- it is theirs, they feel important (and are) and will often make sure you are aware of that.
The only place we found the officials obstructive and inflexible, was Curacau. We had some surprisingly positive experiences with officials- for example the army and coastguard in Blanquilla (Ven). They boarded, spent almost 45 min going through every locker, cabinet, even the bilge
. They asked to see our PAPER charts, checked if they were up to date, checked PFDs, fire extinguishers, CO alarms etc.etc.Throughout however, they were extremely professional, polite, and left us with a very positive feeling regarding the Venezuelan forces, our welcome in their country and our security
, which might be a surprise to some.
As for hurricane season and where to cruise- it depends if you want to be back in the Eastern Carib the next season. If so, stay at Grenada, Trini(we never went there), or even West as far as BonAire
and Curaçao (these have lots to offer). Next season go North to the Virgins and start the loop again