While not wishing to minimize the significance of any of the 5 incidents in the Porlamar area of Margarita Island that were referred to as PIRACY
in the posting
by BassAckwards, none of the incidents were in fact acts of piracy
NONE involved attacks on boats that were underway.
THREE OF FIVE involved thefts, or attempted thefts from boats under anchor
. In none of these was violence either used or threatened; in one boat the 'pirates' (actually thieves) were frightened off when they discovered the boat was occupied. In the third, the owner discovered that his fenders had been cut off and stolen from his boat, as well as lines and his liferaft
. Does anyone here doubt that similar thefts occur on a regular basis from boats everywhere? Are all thefts of inflatables or from anchored boats to now be referred to as acts of piracy, or only if they occur in Venezuela
THE REMAINING TWO incidents were more serious in that the occupants of the boats under anchor
were tied up while the thieves rummaged for valuables. However, as serious as they incidents were, in neither case was there the use, or threatened use of weapons, nor were there injuries or assaults apart from act of being tied up and no doubt terrified.
Yes, there are areas in Venezuela
that have been subject to serious, violent crime against yachters and which should be avoided at present. Furthermore, there is one area on Margartia where a violent attack on boaters has been reported in the last few years (not referred in the above report as now somewhat dated, but a couple of attacks have occurred in an isolated area by Roblidal). Furthermore, thefts while under anchor in the Porlamar area are obviously a real possibility (three of the reported 70 boats under anchor, but largely unoccupied in Porlamar during the July 4th celebrations did, as mentioned, actually suffer thefts - and a couple of unfortunate boaters suffered what we in North America would refer to as 'home invasions'.
I should point out that Porlamar is a relatively large, built-up city (over 200,000 people in the area) and that secure docking
is available for those who want to avoid theft. Put another way, I suspect that those who choose to anchor close to shore in any large city must recognize and accept an increased risk of theft.
Margarita Island is still a beautiful island with a terrific infrastructure and incredibly inexpensive provisioning
(including 20 cent a gallon diesel); it also falls below the hurricane
belt and is therefore within the rather small area of the Caribbean
now covered by insurers during hurricane
season. If you wish to visit a large city like Porlamar for handy re-provisioning, stay at the marina. If you wish to stay in a large city (the only one on the island) longer in order to enjoy the casinos, restaurants, night clubs and shopping
, then recognize that there will be a risk of theft, particularly from an unoccupied boat, if you choose to anchor. You may be better advised to stay at the marina (and while I am not able to give you the current fees
, they have traditionally been much less than marinas
elsewhere in the Caribbean
- think in the range of $20.00USD a night for a 40 foot boat).
There are other areas on Margarita that are relatively safe and secure anchorages
(and from which there have been no similar reports), and buddy-boating should be sufficient to minimize your risks. But please don't let alarmist reports (which paint
acts of theft or burglary as piracy) keep you away from an entire island. Consider the benefits versus the real risks and use your common sense.
If you prefer, you could also while away the hurricane season on Trinidad (at least as many reports of theft/violent crime in the last several years as Margarita, and in particular armed robberies from boaters just outside the gates of marinas
which transients most commonly use). Or, you could go to Aruba
where I understand they no longer even permit anchoring
. In the case of all three, you will find that supplies/boat repairs
are much more expensive, as are the cost of marina slips. You could also travel to Columbia
where at least boat repairs
are also relatively inexpensive, but where the levels of violence towards foreigners (and in particular kidnappings) is worse than not only Margarita Island, but mainland Venezuela.