Mustang Sally, while you may tire of cruisers who refer to thefts of items such as your boat hook (or even outboards, inflatables, liferafts etc.) as petty theft, I tire of people who make inflammatory and inaccurate statements such as "EVERYONE gets boarded, its a matter of were you pistol whipped, shot, tied up and robbed or whatever else."
As SV Makai points out, the increase in violent crime/attacks in certain areas in Venezuela IS a matter of serious concern. However, he is able to put things in a rational
perspective: despite sailing in and out of Venezuela for over a year, he has not been a victim of a violent attack; he is not painting the entire country with the same brush; even if the situation does not improve where these recent attacks occurred (the now notorious area outside Puerto La Cruz including Isla Barracha), he is not proposing giving the offshore islands a miss. From my personal experience (as well as that of many others), he is NOT the exception that proves the rule
, but rather one of the vast majority who have had wonderful experiences cruising the offshore caribbean
islands of Venezuela.
I also note that, in spite of the recent attacks that have shaken his confidence in the Puerto La Cruz area, he still believes that it is only now turning into an area that is as dangerous as the Windward Islands
(as you know, the still popular cruising grounds between Martinique
and Grenada), or the District of Columbia
. To that I might add that since January of this year, there have also been violent attacks on cruisers in St. Vincent, St. Lucia, the ABC's, Puerto Rico
, with murders in the latter two.
I am sorry that while in Venezuela you apparently saw someone in an inflatable
run down by another boat (although I can only imagine the outrage you would express if it had been done by a member
of the equivalent of the local Sheriff's office, as occurred in a notorious case from California
that is currently before the courts).
I am sorry that while in Venezuela you allegedly saw a shoot-out on the dock
in front of you (although I must say that I have been witness to shoot-outs at parking lots at the Detroit Olympiad and in Niagara Falls, New York
in the 1970's; it hasn't kept me from returning to the USA).
I am also sorry that there were allegedly four cruisers murdered in Venezuela in the summer of 2008 (although I must say that I have not read about that anywhere
else). Are you suggesting that all of this happened on Margarita Island (the only location you mention). Can you provide some details of this mass (or serial) killing of cruisers on the island? Frankly, I believe that you are 'mistaken'. And if it wasn't on Margarita Island, please specify where as there IS a difference (Venezuela is, afterall, a rather large country and one with, by far, the largest coastline bordering the Caribbean
Sea). Frankly, I would be hugely surprised if that were true for the entire country during the summer of 2008, but I am prepared to stand corrected.
What I am prepared to accept at face value is your allegation that your boathook was stolen while under anchor
in Porlamar, the largest and most violent city on Isla Margarita. For what it is worth, I can indicate that the outboard
for my inflatable
was stolen from my boat one night when I was onboard two summers ago - at a sleepy little marina in Bath, Ontario
. It was locked to a transom bracket on my cat and I awoke the next morning to find that the cable had been cut.
I have also had a previous boat broken into and not only stripped, but deliberately damaged when on the hard
in Port Credit, Ontario
. Indeed, I have also been involved in the prosecution of numerous
cases where boats have not only been boarded and subjected to theft, but also boarded when occupied at marinas
in other small towns in southern Ontario. I believe that you were originally from Canada
- do you believe that I should, as a result, be saying that from my experience, everyone in Canada will eventually be boarded? The longer you stay here, the greater the risk?
Everyone is entitled to express an opinion, and yours is duly noted. I suggest, however, that inflammatory rhetoric does little to promote a measured response or judgment by anyone. It is obvious that you were terrified by your experience in Venezuela and moreover, that you have little or no patience with other cruisers who view theft from even their own boats as relatively
petty matters. From an international perspective, I suspect that they are right, although I acknowledge that it does nothing to minimize the sense of violation that you obviously feel.
The world is a dangerous place and sadly, it seems that it is becoming more dangerous by the day. All of us and not just cruisers must make decisions concerning issues of safety
and the degree to which we are prepared to accept risk, versus the gain of visiting new landfalls and experiencing new cultures. Sadly, at this point I suspect that SV Makai is correct: unless or until the Guardia clean things up quickly, it is probably best at present to avoid the area of Puerto La Cruz and neigbouring islands. Like SV Makai, however, I do not believe that this in any way justifies an indiscriminate and inaccurate attack on all cruising grounds in Venezuela.