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Old 11-10-2010, 09:06   #1
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Venezuela Security and Customs - Is it Worth it ?



We are considering a cruise from Grenada to the ABC’s in early 2011. The big question we have is what do with Venezuela ? Bypass it and sail direct from Grenada to Bonaire or spend a lot of time in what looks to be a very beautiful area ? We are a couple with only enough Spanish language to get a beer and say good morning. We may try and hookup with an other boat or two, but as it stands now it is just us. Most of what we read, is a little ( a lot ) scary about security and piracy. Also customs clearance seems to be more of hassle then I would like. However it is the security issue that is the real concern. We are not marina people and spend, for the most part, all our time at anchor. The thought of locking ourselves in at night and getting the adrenalin pumping any time approached by local fishing boat just seems to take all the fun out of it. And finally there is the question of where do we go from there ? Struggle back against prevailing wind and current or make a major jump north and then loop back down the Island to Grenada. We would like to take out for the summer again in Grenada.

Would appreciate comments on resent experiences or anyone that might be considering a similar cruise and interested in making the trip together.

David
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Old 11-10-2010, 09:13   #2
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We'd be very interested in this information as well... but are looking to make the trip in May/June 2011, so probably too late to join Stream Spirits.
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Old 11-10-2010, 09:35   #3
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I assume you've already checked here but just in case...

Noonsite: Venezuela

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Old 11-10-2010, 09:40   #4
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And I am interested to go to haul out in the Golfo De Cariaco near 010 33 N 063 50 W
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Old 11-10-2010, 13:24   #5
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We have friends who have just been in the Venezuela area and they advise to stay well clear. They say that they encountered problems with the authorities and possible pirates.
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Old 11-10-2010, 13:30   #6
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We are also planning to head that way May next year - Im reading a book 'Pirates aboard' but am not sure how updated it is - Really an eye opener and wanted to chat to Mark about this some time
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Old 11-10-2010, 14:29   #7
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I live in Aruba, do not miss Los Testigos, Los Roques and Las Aves before Bonaire. Bonaire has moorings for rent and Harbour Village Marina is OK. Curacao has good haul out facilities and Spanish Water is a nice anchorage. Aruba is the least know to cruisers mainly because no cruising guides have been written about it. We do have very nice anchorages like Spanish Lagoon, Eagle and Palm Beach, the lagoon between the Airport and the offshore reefs (cruisers usually go to the beach by the end of the runway) and then some. Renaissance Marina for most everything like propane etc...
You will probably see me, I'm the guy in the red sloop doing day sails.
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Old 11-10-2010, 14:54   #8
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We did the trip last Spring, following several friend´s who loved the outer islands, Los Roches and the Aves, before going onto the ABC´s. We sailed on a reach from Grenada to The French Islands and then sailed across the Caribbean to Los Roches.

Those outer Venezuelan island are considered much safer than Venezuala and I have not heard of any security problems on the cruisers net in the ABC´s regarding Los Roches.

Checking in and out for a long stay is difficult but the Coast Guard in Los Roches were polite and helpful and they were allowing ýachts-in-transit´ two days for sail repair´ etc. before they move on to the Aves. Be careful in Los Roches, there is a reef off the town pier that is not well marked on the charts or the Navionics chart plotter. In the Aves there was little correlation between my charts, the chart plotter and what we saw.

The Aves are lovely and the Coast Guard were very polite when we checked in by VHF. Again we said we were a yacht-in-transit.

Bonaire is delightful, moorings only, and you should plan to stay there for a while especially if you are divers, the reef is directly under your stern when you are on the $10/day moorings. Beware squalls from the south west, they cause breaking waves that require that you go to the marina or out to sea.

Both Boaniare and Curacao have excellent provisioning but in Bonaire you should buy it if you see it as the supermarket runs out of all essentials except beer. Polar beer is very cheap in Los Roches.

Spanish Waters in Curacao is a safe anchorage but the water is nasty so we returned to Bonaire for an extra months diving.

If you sail on to Cartagena stock up with wine and liquor as they are expensive in Cartagena but Columbian beer is cheap. In Columbia boat parts are very expensive but labour is cheap. I am paying excellent carpenters less than $7/hr to relay and reseal my teak deck. Canvas and sail work is 35% of US or Caribbean prices.

Phil
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Old 12-10-2010, 16:20   #9
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And I am interested to go to haul out in the Golfo De Cariaco near 010 33 N 063 50 W
That's Medregal Village Marina on the north shore about 3/4's of the way east down the Golfo de Cariaco. You can look at their website:
medregal village marina drydock boatyard venezuela

I have several friends that go there every year on their "loops" around the eastern Caribbean. They like the place. It is isolated enough to be out of the main stream of trouble in Venezuela. And it is cheap.

But getting there is another problem for some. I have some friends who have sailed to Venezuela every year for the last 5 years and have never had a problem - - but -- I have more friends who went there and had significant problems. I suppose it is all in your attitude and good fortune. The whole eastern region of northern Venezuela is considered hazardous to your health or your boat and personal stuff. It is the same "risk analysis" that you would do when considering doing the Red Sea route to the Med.
For some it is acceptable and for others it is too risky.
- - You can look at: Welcome to the Caribbean Safety and Security Net
for verified incidents. But for ever one who got "hit" there are plenty of others who did not. And also not everybody "reports" their incident. Actually very few do report them. So it is a personal judgment situation.
- - The most current popular route west - aiming for Panama and the Pacific - is to go non-stop from Grenada to Bonaire with maybe a stop at Los Rogues National Park and/or Islas de Aves. It is 401 nm to Bonaire or just shy of 3 days sailing. The route keeps you north of all the potentially hazardous areas of eastern Venezuela.
- - Here us a map of the Caribbean eastern shore of Venezuela with "red squares" marking confirmed and reported pirate attacks in the last 5 years. Make you own decisions, after all, that is one reason why you are cruising instead of back in your home country letting your government bureaucrats protect you from everything.
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Old 12-10-2010, 16:31   #10
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That's Medregal Village Marina on the north shore about 3/4's of the way east down the Golfo de Cariaco. You can look at their website:
medregal village marina drydock boatyard venezuela
.
Yes thats where I'm thinking of going. the prices are very cheap and I have emailed them a number of times and they seem on the ball. But lets not broadcast it to this mob of cruisin' scum. They might book the place out before I get there!

I will have to do a lot more looking into it when I get closer. If it looks iffy I can haul in Trinadad.




Thanks for the great info and the map
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Old 12-10-2010, 16:36   #11
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. . . I will have to do a lot more looking into it when I get closer. If it looks iffy I can haul in Trinidad.

Thanks for the great info and the map
If you do haul in Trinidad I recommend I.M.S. which is a small yard "down the road" away from the big yards. It is peaceful and you can do pretty much what you want including hiring your own locals to do grunt work, like sanding the bottom and doing the actual paint roller work.
- - It is a 40 minute walk back to the "main" section of Chag Bay but there are maxi-taxis (van buses) that you can jump on for on a US$1 (TT$6). I have spent considerable time in Trinidad and know where to buy marine stuff for significantly less than the boatyard marine stores.
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Old 12-10-2010, 16:57   #12
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I'll give you a yell next year and see if I can pry that local information out of you. I have this torture method... Rum.
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Old 12-10-2010, 19:20   #13
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I have spent two hurricane seasons in Puerto La Cruz - specifically Bahia Redonda marina, El Morro complex, about four miles west of PLC town. This was in 2004 & 2006 so info may be a little out of date, nevertheless these are my comments:

Los Testigo's - small group of Venezuelan islands providing stepping stone when heading west: generally safe for the short time you will be there - no customs but show your face to coastguard on main island. Approach from Grenada - stay well clear of Paria peninsula which means heading north if traveling from Trinidad before heading west.

Isla Margherita - Venezuelan tax free holiday island - Porlamar main town & anchorage: generally safe although watch for dinghy theft. Employ agent to check-in

Puerto La Cruz, El Morro complex - a huge inland waterway development with several marinas & boatyards, hotels, golf course & modern shopping mall accessible with long but comfortable dinghy ride. Safe within marinas & waterways, probably safer to take taxi's which are very cheap elsewhere especially at night. You will be required to complete some of the check-in procedures again here so you may wish to evaluate your options if you travel via Isla Margherita.

Despite political turmoil I would feel confident to visit again if the occasion arose. Generally a cheap country to stay in, offsetting the check-in charges even if only staying a short while.

As mentioned above when heading further west from PLC or Isla Margherita don't miss Tortuga, Los Roques & the Aves en-route to ABC's.
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