First a security note – in November 2013 a yacht was attacked and the skipper injured 5 miles off the Gulf of Paria, about ten miles from the eastern end. This area can be dangerous, so take care.
My Venezuela guide is the most out of date of my guides, last edition published in 2006. There have been many security problems since then, and anyone thinking of cruising down there needs to consider it carefully. Unless the situation changes I don’t forsee doing a new guide anytime soon. So all I have to offer for updated information is what those intrepid sailors who go down there send back. I want to thank all those who have send updates; some are detailed and contain invaluable information. I have put them all up on this page, and anyone going down would do well to spend some time going through them in detail.
Los Roques, Venezuela
Los Roques, Venezuela
Venezuela is lovely, but times are both risky and uncertain. So I was delighted when Paul Din Bella & Luna Visited Los Roques and Las Aves on SV BellaLuna. Below is their report. The first part is their initial letter and below that, another in answer to some specific questions I asked.
They visited without going near the mainland on their way to the ABCs. They were really well treated and I redacted a little of that to make sure no one in Los Roques could have a problem. For anyone thinking of taking this trip I hope you find the information useful.
I have to say that they were the most beautiful beaches and islands we have visited in all of the Caribbean. The people we met including the coast guard in La Blanquilla, were some of the sweetest we have come across.
We were pleased when Trumps comments regarding an invasion had no adverse effect on us entering the country besides the immigration guy having to get creative with stamping our passports. We were also supposed to pay $40 rather than the normal $30 but the guys were so cool they didn’t make us pay the USA rate. The economy is very bad and the conversion is 3,000,000.00 for $1.00 and thankfully everyone was using $USD. We were not asked for bribes but were asked to trade cokes for lobster.
This is the second:
It was so much more than we expected. There seemed to be a fair amount going on . In La Blanquilla they told us that 5-6 boats stop there every month (mostly French and German). In Los Roques there seemed to be a bit still going on. Many of the posadas were still open and several were making repairs and upgrades. The restaurants seemed only to open a couple of days a week with the exception of Aquarena which was open everyday and had excellent food. The prices were extremely low, We had a terrific lunch for a family of four and it was $15 US. As I said every transaction we made was in US dollars and everyone seemed to have enough to make change. It did help that we took mostly $10 & $20 notes.
There were quite a few (20-30) large motor yachts/cruisers and sport fishers in the area with a few sailboats as well. At the bigger tourist spots like Cayo de Agua there was a healthy day trip business still going. We spent two nights alone there but during the day there were 40-60 people sitting on the beach serviced by 10 or so pangas that brought them over, but they were all gone by 4:00 pm.
We did not deal with an agent, just directly with the officials and as I said they were all very nice and went the extra mile to help us. They even made coffee for us at the immigration office.
We did visit Las Aves, both Isla Sur and Curricai. We were approached by a fishing boat that nicely asked if we could help them with a couple gallons of drinking water in Isla Sur and a jet ski came by with some wealthy Venezuelan tourists in Curricai just to chat and see what we were doing. The coast guard there was the most business like and they asked for orange juice, pineapple juice coffee or pork and even checked our freezer and fridge during their inspection… It didn’t bother us though as these poor guys are stuck out there in the middle of nowhere working in an economy that is just pathetic. The Bolivar was at 3,000,000.00 for $1 when we were there, so we had to understand their attitudes. That said, they were still way more friendly than any of the officials in the BVIs who by the way charged us $150 to bring our dogs in and put the money directly into their pockets and drove off.
Thanks for your nice guides. Here is an update for the Venezuelian islands;
From Martinique, we went directly to La Blanquilla to spend 3 days there. The Guarda Costa visit us to check the boat and papers. A complete check of the boat was done but it was fine. No clearance done there.
Then we went to Los Roques, we can clear in and out there and stay for 15 days. In two hours we make the formalities and pay 6600 Bolivar for a 11 meter boat and 6 persons (Port tax : 3000, Park : 250 /pers and 2100 for the boat). In total this is approximatively 100 USD. You may change USD (or Euro) into Bolivar on the black market in restaurants or possada before making the formalities (1 USD = 65 Bolivar, 1 euro = 85 Bolivar). There are 4 authorities to check with, all were friendly. No english.
Then we went to Aves that are fanstastic. On Aves de Sotavento the Guarda Costa let us stay only 48 hours but on Aves de Barlovento there were nobody and we could stay much longuer.
We meet almost no sailor on all these islands.
The Aleries spent 3 months in Venezuela and managed fine, though they are quite street-wise and did not go out at night. Their report is here Noonsite . It does contain useful information. I would say the situation in Venezuela has deteriorated somewhat since they were there.
– Benjamin Leveque
Phil and Yvonne sent me the following which is a bit more upbeat and contains some good tips received;
We have spent several years sailing around Venezuela. Since August this year we sailed from Puerto La Cruz to Isla Tortuga, to Carenero, Los Roques, Las Aves, Bonaire, then return south to Punta san Juan, Ensa Cata, marina Caraballeda, Carenero, Tortuga and back to Puerto La Cruz. Sailing was good in both directions, it’s a good route.
The guardia costa called us on VHF 16 many times during our trip to check if all was ok.
Caraballeda marina is not so good, there are sunken boats unmarked in the middle of the channel 2ft below the surface. We hit one! They have been there since 1999.
You cannot clear in to Venezuela in Los Roques, one can only clear into to Los Roques marine park, that is not the same thing. The only Island you can clear into Venezuela is Isla Margarita. (Chris Doyle note: according to the story below this has now changed – contact the agent mentioned in the story below.)
Due to the security problems in Porlamar anchorage, it is better to use the Marina Venetur near Pampatar. There is no water or electric but there is security.
The Guardia may come to you at any of the islands, they will ask questions and fill out a form. They will give you a copy, there is no charge, they are just keeping a check, but you are not cleared in.
If you are cleared in to Venezuela, one can stay in Las Aves as long as your papers allow. If you are not cleared in, but are on route, the coastguard will allow you to stay a few days, maybe more. Problems have arisen by people sailing from Bonaire or Curacao without clearing out and then spend weeks or months in Roques and Aves, when they are caught they have problems because of being in Venezuela without clearance or papers for a previous port. It is important to remember, Venezuela maybe a bit 3rd world in many areas, but they insist you clear in and out of their country upon arrival and exit, as does every other country in the world. Failure to do so is an offence and to rectify the problem, especially in a foreign language will be expensive.
You cannot clear in to Venezuela in Medregal Village, only in clearance ports mentioned in the Doyle guide, agents in the marinas can help for a fee, it should cost no more than 4000 Bolivares with an agent. This is for a 3 month or 6 month stay depending where you clear in. Renewal is cheaper. 18 months total is allowed, then you must clear out.
Anchoring overnight in the islands outside near Puerto La Cruz and Mochima is no certainly more dangerous than anywhere else we have travelled in the Caribbean, and contrary to a recent update, many motor boats and some sail boats do anchor overnight. The fisherman are friendly, I prefer to anchor near a fishing village. Common sense precautions apply of course. Marinas are inexpensive with the exchange rate around 60 Bolivares to the Dollar. Local knowledge is important but listen to those who visit these islands and not stories from a friend of a friend.
Downtown Puerto La Cruz (Paseo Colon) and Plaza Mayor (Lecherias) is safe daytime or evenings, evenings the area is buzzing, great family atmosphere.
Outside the marina area of Bahia Redonda can be risky at night, daytime is ok, but don’t go too far and don’t dress like a tourist, no jewellery, Ipads etc just common sense.”
Los Roques – At a time when Venzuela is considered dangerous, this opens up the possibility of just visiting Los Roques, which the author found safe. Ethan sent me a detailed report which I have added at the bottom of this page. For some reason I could not get his excellent photos to come over.
“Hello Doyle Guides,
Great guides! I use them whenever I’m in the area(s) and its been a while. After three years in the South Pacific and Indonesia it seems almost like ‘cheating’ to have such an in depth, updated and excellent guide. I also enjoy sharing information with colleagues and cruisers to help make the trip easier, and hopefully maximized.
Therefore I thought I’d share my notes from Los Roques having just left there about 10 days ago. Yachts can now clear in and out there without having to worry about being scammed or going to the mainland. There is a local agent, who has lived there for 15 years, but only just realized how he can assist yachts. He is a very trustworthy individual who cares greatly about his country and his stunning little archipelago out there. He understands how tourism can positively affect his community and he is very excited to show everyone a good time in his natural ‘water park’ being a hardcore watersports enthusiast. We had the best experience there cruising, diving, kite-boarding, snorkeling and visiting beautiful, empty beaches. There is also a small surf break, but we didn’t have time.
Gran Roque proper was pretty cool too and we found everyone very friendly without the slightest note of a security or theft issue. I feel I need be more ‘on alert’ in the windward islands.
Now granted I have a professional crew looking out for the boat, but I’m a cruiser and sailor at heart and think that with some assistance from this agent a wonderful experience can be held in Los Roques. I certainly plan on cruising there with my own sailing yacht in the near future.
Including the contact for Alejandro Linares of Yacht Services Los Roques.
Alejandro Linares http://yachtservicelosroques.com/ +58-4248033723 +1-5612078475 Yachtservicelsroques@gmail.com Or firstname.lastname@example.org
– Ethan H. Lee
” 1. PUERTO LA CRUZ (Technical Yacht Services): Jaun Guerero Diesel Mechanic (mentioned in your Venezueal/Bonaire Guide)has a new telephone: 0424-848-6435. Old number now sits at the bottom of the yacht basing n. 😉 He is very honest, reliable and the price is right. His sons work with his as well and are equally decent folks. They recently did some works on my Lehman Diesel and did an excellent job a at a very good price.
2. PUERTO LA CRUZ ANCHORAGES: There is no longer any recognized or used overnight anchorages anywhere in Puerto la Cruz. Due to security issue NO ONE anchors out in any of the anchorages designated in any of the sailing guides. The local dive and charter companies will come to your boat and tell you in pidgin English that you will be shot and robbed if you stay the night. I believe them to be correct. With marina prices at under $10/day for a 50 foot boat there is simply no reason to anchor out anyway.
3. PUERTO LA CRUZ SECURITY: Due to severe security issues yachts are discouraged form staying overnight at any of the offlying islands just outside Puerto la Cruz (example: Isla Boracha)
4. PUERTO LA CRUZ SECURITY: In the last 30 days the following incidents have occurred in and around Bahia Redonda Marina. Theses are just the incidents where I PERSONALLY interviewed the victims. There were many more reported but I could not talk to the victims directly so I can not confirm them and will not mention them here. A German flagged yacht was boarded IN the Bahia Redonda Marina early in the morning mid December 2012. The owners had a dog on board. The pirates were able to calm the dog for a time as they apparently knew the dog’s name. Long story made short, the owners were not hurt badly but were thoroughly ransacked for 45 minutes while the guard “slept” only a few meters away while the dog barked loudly and the woman screamed. No one came to their aid. Subsequently the security team has been “adjusted” and they appear much more alert. In mid Dec. A gentleman was robbed at gun point in a restaurant outside the East Gate of Marina Bahia Redonda. His watch and ring were stolen. The same Gentleman was robbed several weeks earlier at the same location (“Chicken Shack”) of his tablet PC. Suffice to say, as in all parts of the world where crime is high don’t wear ANY jewelry and keep limited cash on you . . . . and don’t bring your $900 iPad to the restaurant to check email. Keep a low profile.
5. PUERTO LA CRUZ SHIPPING: When shipping parts into Venezuela arrange shipping via DHL, HERE and pay HERE in local currency. The price, with the current exchange rate, will be exponentially less than if your supplier arranges shipping from your home country. Transit times are 4-5 days form either Europe or US, Outbound or Inbound. Tracking is online and the service is good. DHL is just outside the Plaza Mayor shopping area in Lecheria, which is about a 10 minute fast dingy ride for the Marina areas and during the day seems just fine as far as security is concerned.
6. CUSTOMS: Check in and out were a breeze with the agent and total cost including all fees etc for 4 persons and a 47 foot boat were $65 at the prevailing “unofficial” rate of exchange. Clearance too 48 hours.
7. PRICES: At the prevailing “unofficial” rate of exchange 17:1 to 20:1 B’s to the dollar everything is dirrt cheap here and well worth the stop. Import items and engine parts are higher.
8. BAHIA REDONDA MARINA: Don’t drink the water at Bahia Redonda maria. It is not potable. Buy bottle water.
9. CANAIMA, ANGEL FALLS & EXCURSIONS: We rate the price and quality of the tours to Canaima and Angel Falls as excellent. Prices are cheap and the trip is well worth it. We booked with Jose Brutons at Transpacific. he was very helpful and made sure we were well taken care of. Highly recommended but prepare to rough it a bit if you want the best prices.”
My update from the same time: Security. January 2013 – security is still a big issue in Venezuela. People get robbed on boats and on shore frequently. Many anchorages are no longer used because of security issues.
Updates from the News department at the Safety and Security Net– Cruising Notes from the ABCs and the Venezuelan Out-Islands:
These notes came from a cruiser who just completed his annual cruise around Los Roques and Las Aves. The information that follows has not been verified by the CSSN. However, the source is a long time visitor to these islands and anchorages and has been reliable.
Changes in the Venezuelan Out-Islands
There is an increase in middle class Venezuelans going to Los Roques for holidays, traveling on yachts and staying at some of the small upscale hotels. Foreigners are not as welcome as in previous years: if you go to Los Roques avoid holidays. Don’t stay too long or you are likely to be reported, run off, or fined.
The Guardia will no longer allow yachts to stay more than a few days. All yachts must go to Puerto Cabello to check in before arriving in Las Aves. If you land in Las Aves before going to Puerto Cabello, you will be required to leave. The Guardia has been making regular trips recently to Barlovento twice a week or more to clear it out.
The Lieutenant that heads the Guardia Station of Las Aves de Sotavento has indicated that he will accept a yacht going to Puerto Cabello, doing a three day check in and check out with the agent there, and then coming back to Las Aves, but only for a few weeks not a few months. No more sailing allowed from Bonaire or Curacao to the Aves and returning without checking into Puerto Cabello first.
Conditions at the marina in Puerto Cabello are uncertain. Additionally it is uncertain of the time required to get a Cruising Permit from the port captain, possibly in the neighborhood of four to six weeks. It is still possible to do all of the checking in out leg work yourself, but it is quite a time-consuming task requiring many many copies of every document in every office. Carlos the agent charges 80 USD for checkin/out which gives you three days at Puerto Cabello. Staying longer requires the cruising permit discussed above.
There are few slips available at the marina and weather conditions (wind and surge) make it advisable to use chains to the dock or heavy chafe gear on all lines. Security in the anchorage in the past has been a problem, leading to the suggestion that cruisers take a slip if at all possible. If you speak some Spanish it is helpful.
Changes at Bonaire and Curacao:
In other news, the changes in Bonaire and Curacao are the result of government status change as of 10/10/10 and new Dutch supported computer systems for immigration that can count days.
Bonaire has tightened up their practice only allowing 90 days in any 180 day rolling period. They have started asking for a Zarpe when arriving from Venezuela. So far they have accepted the Safety Inspection that you get at Las Aves Sotavento issued by the Guardia. You have to have a way to copy the safety report on board or furnish the Guardia carbon paper for your copy. As far as the boat, the practice is still six months in Bonaire with the possibility of one extension; otherwise you need to import the boat at high tax rates.
Curacao has tightened their practice of allowing only 90 days stay in a calendar year. You must have an anchor permit issued by the Harbor Master for USD 10 and it requires you to file a float plan upon check out – out of each anchorage you visit. As for the boat, you can get six months and a possible extension for another six months after which you must import the boat at a high tax rate. There is a special status granted to yachts in storage and any local Marina or Shipyard will have the details and fees associated with that. A few months ago they chained forty boats to the dock or the ground until their status could be sorted, and sent the Coast Guard to board all boats and check papers.
On some days in Curacao and in Bonaire the anchorages were visited and boardings conducted by the black rubber dink twice per day. On other days the frigate cruises by in Bonaire, or the helicopter hovers taking pictures of boats and the black rubber dink shows up a day or so later.
Usefull new website for Margarita:
2010 Security Alert
Boat robbed and assaulted between Lost Testigos and Margarita.
“we were attacked by pirates at approx. N011 05.000 W063 23.000 (4 1/2 hr sail west of Los Testigos en route to Porlamor at 10:00 a.m. Venezuela time. We were assaulted, held at gunpoint and they ransacked Boldly Go taking all valuable items they could carry back in their 16′ pinero (wooden boat). Jim and are fine. Only moments of psychological fear remain. We’ll heal.”
2010 Security Alert
Some people using credit cards in money machines are apparently getting ripped off, with cash taken elsewhere.
2008 Security Alert
Local Newspapers yesterday informed of another sailor killed in his boat.In this opportunity was a USA citizen,Keneth Dale Peters 55y.He was sailing with his wife Chathy.His boat name is Chill-.Another US citizen was injuered while trying to help.He was getting ready to leave the area when he was attacked to be robed.They were at La Borracha in Mochima.
Chris when I see this situation a get worried and doubt if we put enough warnings regarding security in the guide.I hope you include this information in the web page and advice the importance of having as much security as possible in Venezuela and preferable to anchor in marinas when possible.
– Oscar Hernandez
2008 Security Alert
I have had tragic news of the murder last Sunday of a French yachtsman who anchored his Catamaran in front of Caraballeda Marina. Four guys swam to the boat and shot him while trying to rob the boat .His wife survived. This story is not different form those happening every day in mainland in where delinquency has taking the country. The fellow’s name was Philipe Arman Leudire(61).The boats name is “Chrysalide”. I think is important specially for those who read our Venezuelan Guide that this note is included in your website. September 17 2008.
– Oscar Hernandez
Updates to the 2007 guide:
We thought you’d be interested in our experience today attempting to check into Los Roques.
We arrived at Grand Roque yesterday morning (Monday Jan 11) from Guadeloupe. We were very tired so we raised our quarantine flag, knowing that we check in the next morning. This morning while inflating our dinghy we were approached by the Guarda Costa and asked for our papers. We advised them that we were going into town to check in as soon as the dinghy was assembled. They seemed happy and went away.
We went into town about 11am and went directly to the office of the Guarda Costa where we met the same two officers. The looked at our papers and asked us some questions, determining that we had no plans to go on to Venezuela. Our intended route is Guadeloupe, Los Roques, Bonaire. We were told that we could only stay for two days. We asked about the 14 days, and they said no, only two days. I asked for perhaps a week, and they replied that it would be a “personal” approval and they would need to talk with the other officials first. They told us not to go to the parks office. They told us they would come by the boat later.
They did come by the boat about 3pm, and told us that for $500USD they could grant us a “special permit” to stay for seven days rather than the usual two days. We showed them the Doyle guide and asked about the $2/ft , $13/person and 14 day stay. We were told that that was the case only if we had already checked in to Venezuela.
They told us otherwise we could only stay for two days, and that we would have to leave by Friday. I verified by repeating that we had to leave by Friday, and he confirmed Friday.
We only got the name of one officer, “Marcos”.
Clearly the rules are somewhat fluid in Los Roques.
In summary, if you do not clear in properly in a port of clearance before you get to Los Roques you will only get two days. I imagine that is the regulation. My rates were for someone who had cleared in.
A couple of comments based on a recent visit to Guiria by ferry and 2 nights in town whilst on a trip from Chaguaramas to Angel Falls.
1. Sam’s pub is no more.
2. The Hotel Plaza is the street side name for the building that includes the Plaza restaurant.
3. The fancy bakery (Exactly as you described but I didn’t see the name Chaceca anywhere) is located on the same cross street as El Timon restaurant one block south of where it is shown on the town map (Calle Bideau).
4. Another marine agency, Acosta y Asociados located at Calle Bolivar No.33 is Pier One Agent (Trinidad Ferry) and according to at least one blog, will clear in visiting yachts. The agency is approximately where the bookstore is shown on the town map.
Hope this info is useful, Bill Roberts
Medregal Village update, Posted early Aug 05 There are a few small changes to the write up we do in the guide.
If Jean-Marc does your clearance, ask him to explain who you should check with on you way out.
While Madregal Village has VHF radios for calling out, they do not normally monitor incoming calls.
Their travel lift will take up to about 30 tons, maximum length 48 feet.
In addition to their laundry, where machines are occasionally out for service, there is a girl down the road who does laundry.
Wifi operates to a distance of about 30 meters around the bar, not very high speed. TV is no longer offered.
The mini market is not part of the premises as the guide says but a short way down the road..
A bus goes every day to Cariaco about 0600.
There are showers but not hot water as mentioned in the guide.
Work on the slip is done by three contractors; Bernard who does paint, Michel who des glass repairs, and currently there is a mechanic. There is no woodwork shop. There is not chandlery but they have a 72 hour system of brining stuff in.
There is a pleasant Swedish couple running a great little pizza place close by. They don’t open every day.
Since November 11, 2009, They have been hauling-out catamarans, at the same price that we do for mono hulls (concerning Live on Board & Long Storage).
Information From Peter Munro:
We visited Isla de Margarita yesterday and, as advised by both your guide and other sailors who had been there at the end of last year, we went immediately to Juan Baro. As you rightly say he is most charming. Alas the story he had for us was less so. A new port captain was appointed two weeks ago. As part of his apparent drive to eliminate corruption in his sphere of influence he is now taking up to 2 weeks to clear a yacht in and out, although what the connection is escapes me.
We decided to cut and run because there was no way we could be stuck there for 2 weeks – another sailor is still stuck there. May I suggest that your website contains a warning – either do not visit or be prepared to spend 2 weeks.
Information From Doug and Wendy onboard Mustang:
When you arrive at Porlamar, Margarita there is now a simple check in office where customs, immigration and the port captain are located. So if you wish it is easy to do yourself. Do not let people tell you you have to clear in and out of each area.
Article 38 of the Marine Activities Law of Venezuela clearly states that foreign or national boats involved in recreation are EXEMPT from national check in and out after having cleared in Internationally. Venezuela is like any other island or country…you check in when you arrive and out when you leave. Lawyers for the Sucre State Chamber of Tourism are also asking for any official or person be reported who tries to convince boaters that they must continually check in and out as this is a corrupt process. Their email is email@example.com
Your guide refers to Alex and Maria and their Posada del Kitesurfista under Isla Coche and Western Coche Punta Playa To Punta El Boton. They do not have the Posada anymore and now live on their sailboat Friendly Rival at Porlamar Margarita. Alex now provides many services to cruisers including, taxi, procurement of anything you need, spanish/english translation, info re money exchange and off course his favorite, kite surfing lessons.
Alex and Maria have helped us and many other cruisers and we have never heard anything bad, always good.
In your Venezuela update there is an erroneous post that states that Jack’ (sic) restaurant passed through new management only to close again. This is not the case. The restaurant, now known as Sunset Bar & Grill is open from noon to midnight (’til dawn, some nights) Monday trough Saturday, featuring an extensive menu of cruiser favourites (burgers, steaks, fish and chips, pizza, etc) along with some of the exotic Thai food Jak was famous for. The prices are reasonable, the servings are generous and the restaurant has been renovated and improved in many ways to make it more comfortable and spacious. Chris and Sandra of the S/V Nomotos have given a fair and objective appreciation of our restaurant to which I could add much but will let their few words serve for thier simple honesty.
Since Nomtos left Sunset has developed a very successful music business offering live bands, jazz, rock, latin traditional and contemporary as well as Cuban themes, Wednesday through Saturday nights. Tonight, Wednesday, is Jazz night and the combo consists of a keyboard, cuatro and 6-string bass. Really good stuff.
Sunset is definitely open for business and we’re not looking to sell. For those who knew Jak’s, they’ll know where to find us; for newcomers, we’re just next to Juan Baro on the way over to Vemasca.
Susnet Brr & Grill
I saw the following letter from John Smith in Compass and thought it well worth reprinting here. It is many years since I visited this yard, and sounds like it has grown a lot bigger and better. The mangrove swamp in Tyrrel Bay has grown in John’s memory if he thinks Carenero is only 5 times as big:
Astillero de Higuerote on the mainland of Venezuela is one of the best boatyards I have been in, especially in regard to security here in Venezuela. The yard is on a peninsula just adjacent to the capitaneria or port captain’s office, so clearance from foreign is easy. The port captain has authority to issue the ship clearance zarpe, which can be extended to 18 months before the vessel must leave the country for 45 days. The yard is large and has five travel lifts with the largest rated for 100 tons. It is airy and well maintained with plenty of free, clean water, free electricity and very clean restroom facilities. While showering in the outdoor facilities I watched a pair of osprey in a nearby tree and watched as three small owls explored the recently plowed and cleared surface of the surrounding land. The main town of Higuerote is a 20-cent, ten-minute bus ride away and the town boasts six good hardware stores and countless bakery/coffee shops as well as the normal plethora of street vendors selling a vast array of clothing, CDs and prepared food. On every corner are fruit markets, fish stalls and/or bodegas, at which a cold bottle of beer costs about 20 cents! The main beach (which I walk along to town) is about two miles long and never have I seen such a rich supply of shellfish being harvested on a daily basis. I walked into the gentle surf up to my knees and with bare hands was able to collect over three dozen small edible surf clams in less than one minute! Chipi-chipi, as they are known locally, are like very small New England quahogs and make a very similar tasting chowder. One must remember, however, to leave the clams in a bucket of seawater with some cornmeal for a while. The normal siphoning process of the clam will exchange the sand which it has carried from the sea with the cornmeal that has been added to the water, making a much more savory broth. Now that my haul out has been completed I am anchored 200 yards away on the opposite side of the channel at the entrance to an extensive mangrove lagoon area, Carenero, which must be five times the size of Carriacou’s. Sitting here in the late afternoons I watch flocks of red ibis, green parrots and pink flamingos returning from their days fishing, and on weekends the Venezuelans come out in family groups and camp on the beach at the head of the mangroves where there are benches and barbecue facilities. Unlike in my New England hometown, the tenting is not only allowed but is encouraged! And yes, there is ball playing, loud music, and open fires for cooking. In Connecticut about the only thing you can do on the beach is leave footprints and take pictures. (I certainly would not eat the shellfish from there any longer.) All the crowds in Puerto La Cruz oughta loosen up a little and check it out for themselves, but sometimes I think that the yachtsmen of today are a lot like the folks who have to put bars on all their windows for the ‘luxury’ of living in a city.
Mermaid of Carriacou
I notice in the same Compass, two people had a narrow escape in Puerto Santos, and I would like to make a comment. As an area gets a bad reputation people stop going there. When people stop going there, you do not hear of horrible things because there are no yachties for horrible thing to happen to. Just something to keep in mind when you read the safety and security reports.
A TALE OF TWO VAMASCAS (Corrections to page 95, chandlery)
In the guide, we became hopelessly confused over the Vemasca stores, It turns out there are TWO separate stores that evolved from the store that was originally started by Denis Laesker. Both are owned by members of the family but completely separate from each other. A visit to both should be on your list of thing to do.
Vemasca Marine Supply is a chandlery and it is very conveniently placed right between Marina Juan and Marina Puerto Miguel in a block called Asovene. They sell a big range of yacht gear as well as fishing gear, everything from deck hardware to electronics and clothing, plus lots of stuff you need to work on your yacht. They also bring things in on special order and do all the paperwork. The ad for Vemasca Marine Supply is in the wrong place in our guide on page 182 in the Puerto la Cruz section. Ritchie speaks excellent English.
Vemasca Marine Services is another big chandlery in Porlamar and it also has another branch in Puerto La Cruz (Their ad is correctly placed on page 94, as is the location on page 95). Vemasca Marine Services also repair electronics and may be able to help with other problems. They are half a mile down the main road towards Porlamar (see picture). It is probably best to take a cab. It is also possible to either walk down the road or dinghy close by to the beach and walk, but do not do either of these until you have checked on the current security situation.
Getting things wrong in my guide is always bad news, but having TWO VEMASCA stores instead of one in Porlamar is excellent news!
The information I had when I did the new version of the guide was that I had not heard of many problems in this area. Update: Security is a problem in this area. Yacht Lady Anne with two people onboard suffered an armed robbery while anchored off the village. They stole all electronics and valuables.
From the Melodye at the Safety and Security net:
Unfortunately, there have been a number of pirate attacks in the Robedal anchorage over the past year and a half or so, all the same MO as what Lady Ann describes, including a count of three men.
Prior to that, one in 2000 but five in 1998!!! ONSA has included Margarita, Coche and Cubagua in their Zona de Alto Riesgo (high risk) on their July 2006 map.
You are advised to follow the links we give to the Safety and Security Net
Puerto La Cruz
Page 181 left column. Jose from Costa Rica retired, Kings service no longer in action.
A cruiser recommended staying very close to the starboard buoys for the deepest water. They squeezed in with 6 feet of draft at low tide. It is best to contact the management for the controlling depth before you go, they may have dredged by now.
There have been fewer incidents, but be alert. I got the following from he safety and security net. Check their web for the latest news
After some five months of no reports of major incidents in Venezuela and only a couple dinghy thefts. In the past week, the Caribbean Safety and Security Net has received two reports. I am still trying to get additional details but this is what we know thus far:
1. Sometime during the night of June 29/30, a French singlehander was forced onto a reef near the island of Coche by two fishing boats, who then boarded and robbed him. The captain suffered some injuries and went immediately to Porlamar the next day to report this to the authorities.
2. About 7 pm in the evening of June 23, a yacht anchored by themselves in Ensenada Toporo (about 1 mile north of Mochima Town in Mochima Park) was boarded by four armed men, who proceeded to beat up the captain and take numerous articles from the boat. The boat is UK registry, although the captain is Russian and his partner is German. They did report the attack to the local authorities in Mochima Town and then to the Guardia Costa in Cumana.
From Ellen Sanpere, Cayenne III (Thanks Ellen!)
Hello. I just find out that in Venezuela Cumanagoto Marina has changed their phone number into 02934000347 and VHF watch on Ch.09. So maybe you will be so kind to update your useful guide. Thanks. Vincenzo Sparavigna SY Spirit of Hope
Cayenne III is back in Puerto La Cruz. Here’s a picture of the fuel dock near Bahia Redonda. Notice, a new paint job, but the fuel pumps are gone. Gasoline is available at the powerboat dock near Puerto del Este. Vemasca must have moved or folded – it is no longer in C.C. Puerto Ensenada.
Three “canal police” stopped us, as we went from Plaza Mayor to Bahia Redonda in the dinghy the other night, and said a curfew has been imposed on dinghy traffic in the canals, between 6PM and 8AM. Apparently, there was a serious accident one night involving some locals and some cruisers and an unlighted speeding dinghy. Vessels may enter the canal, but only to go home, and may not go outside. This certainly crimps our fun – no dinners at MareMares or the mall unless we take a taxi, and the roads are mobbed all day/night long. Traffic around Plaza Mayor is beyond belief!
The marinas and yards here are full, but there aren’t any people hanging around as in the past. The Fundamigos mission is this week, but the cruiser fundraising is greatly reduced from last year. The restaurant at Bahia Redonda was redecorated, and the food has improved under new management. In addition to the Sunday dominoes game, people are playing Texas Hold’em poker and Parcheesi on Saturday.
The light at Chimana Segunda was not lit when we stopped there last week, but people were in the national park station there all night, presumably available in case of trouble.
Bolivares are now at Bs5000/USD and fluctuating. Next January, there will be new currency, BsFuerte, with the last 3 zeros dropped off. Prices are to be quoted until then in both, i.e. Bs50,000/BsF50. Cruisers need to be careful to avoid mistakes when paying for things.
When we need fuel, we will go to Cumana – cruisers are welcome there.
s/v Cayenne III
From Donald on /v Quetzalcoatlv
The bureaucrats have added another layer to clearing in at Isla Margarita, Venezuela. It is now necessary to appear at the Office of the Port Captain in Pampitar to sign a paper witnessed by an Port Captain employee. The entire process for us using Marina Juan as an agent took eight days.
I would suggest that anyone not cleared into Venezuela who wants to make a quick stop at Isla Margarita, to not check in. Lie under a yellow flag for a couple of days and continue on to your destination.
Note from Chris: In the new guide I did not mention how long clearing took. I hope this is the extreme length of time. I would like to hear from others…
Well, we finally did get fuel in Venezuela: $.08/gal. at Cumanagoto marina in Cumana. They were pleasant and cheerful. The entrance was easy. The fuel dock is open 7AM-3PM. We took a slip for the night at $10.69, incl. water & electricity for a 44′ boat and fueled up the next morning. Dinner at the RetroBar in the adjacent mall was excellent. Too bad there is no grocery store or produce market nearby.
Meanwhile, the fuel dock in Bahia Redonda is no longer selling diesel fuel to foreign-flagged vessels, and even Venezuelan vessels must get an annual permit from the gov’t., paying a stamp tax, identifying the vessel as Venezuelan. We were able to get gasoline for the dinghy easily and at the same price as at Cumana.
We were told, the fuel dock in downtown PLC will sell fuel at Bs.1500/liter ($.576 USD) for less than 1000 liters. For larger loads, the vessel must obtain a permit from PDV. For awhile, some of the yard workers were bringing in 55 gal. drums of fuel, but that has been stopped.
We got the feeling the locals do not want cruisers in PLC – they want the rates to remain low and the cruisers are driving them up. In fact, there was one guy on the VHF several times a week loudly cursing the cruisers, especially those from the US.
As for money exchange, some travel agents will gladly give a better than official rate, Bs.2600/$1 USD last week. In Caracas, the rate was 2900, in Margarita the rate was 2400. Exchange rates for the marina and boatyard are easily negotiated when paying in dollars. It is rumored, the B will go to Bs.4500/$1 some time in 2007.
The Hilton marina (now called Marina Margarita) has not quite caught up with the lovely pictures on it’s web site. Only one side has electricity and a truck delivers water every morning, gratis. The rates were pretty good, (Bs.21,120 or so) and the security was good, but there was no visible change from our visit 2 years ago.
From Ellen Sanpere
s/v Cayenne III
Hi Chris, just a tip for easy navigating through the NE channel into los roques. on the southern most little island on the east side of francisqui there has been built a triangular reasonably large whit house, which is visibly for many miles from the outside (we picked it up in the early morning sun almost 5 miles out. when used in conjunction with your way point for the entrance it gives a clear and safe transit into the los roques. on a true course of about 220 you have a nice visual reference together with your gps waypoint. best personal regards, dick marx s.v. “Geramar”
We took a tour to Angel Falls from Puerto La Cruz and used Jakera mentionned in your guide. It was the worst tour I’ve ever taken. Jakera is contracting their tours out to Gecko Tours. Gecko provides no guides and no one speaks English. We ended up doing the hike back from Angel Falls in complete darkness after seeing the overlook of Angel Falls for 5 min. at dusk only.
More on Jack’s – Now SUNSET your Venezuela update there is an erroneous post that states that Jack’ (sic) restaurant passed through new management only to close again. This is not the case. The restaurant, now known as Sunset Bar & Grill is open from noon to midnight (’til dawn, some nights) Monday trough Saturday, featuring an extensive menu of cruiser favourites (burgers, steaks, fish and chips, pizza, etc) along with some of the exotic Thai food Jak was famous for. The prices are reasonable, the servings are generous and the restaurant has been renovated and improved in many ways to make it more comfortable and spacious. Chris and Sandra of the S/V Nomotos have given a fair and objective appreciation of our restaurant to which I could add much but will let their few words serve for thier simple honesty.Since Nomtos left Sunset has developed a very successful music business offering live bands, jazz, rock, latin traditional and contemporary as well as Cuban themes, Wednesday through Saturday nights. Tonight, Wednesday, is Jazz night and the combo consists of a keyboard, cuatro and 6-string bass. Really good stuff.Sunset is definitely open for business and we’re not looking to sell. For those who knew Jak’s, they’ll know where to find us; for newcomers, we’re just next to Juan Baro on the way over to Vemasca.
Susnet Bar & Grill
Page 269, top right corner: photo references are to incorrect pages.
Palmeras sunset is page 270 not 256 as printed.
Red footed booby is page 271, not 257.
– From Evi , S/V Wonderland, Los Roques, VE.
A man came around on one of those wonderful boats (pe eros) and handed out small flyers advertising La Casa Verte/The Green House. Polite and professional about it, so that encouraged us to visit and we were delighted that we did so.
We were anchored in Observation Bay
The restaurant is easily accessible by dragging your dinghy on the beach – the host and hostess were charming – two options only, lobster or fish (served with rice and coleslaw), service is impeccable – they offer soda, beer and wine – and while we were there the host/owner came out with binoculars and pointed out in the distance a sperm whale leaping about and thrashing its fluke – it was wonderful. Lobster was 70 bolivars and fish was 35 bolivars. Excellent food, great views of the ocean, highly recommended!