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By No owner — last modified Feb 22, 2018 12:22 PM

 Colombia - Formalities


Laws in Colombia are ever-changing and these laws are sometimes interpreted or applied differently from one port jurisdiction to the other. Noonsite endeavours to keep abreast of all new developments, however, if you encounter something different to the guidance outlined below, please do contact us to help us keep this information accurate.

In Colombia, yacht must clear in and out between major ports (i.e. separate port authorities such as Santa Marta & Cartagena), and will be given an outward clearance (zarpe) for the next port. Visiting yachts must clear in with the Port Captain in each port (via an agent who is authorised to deal with the Port Captain). Customs and Immigration formalities are completed only in the first and last ports visited.

Caution: The "zarpe" (outward clearance) from the previous port is absolutely necessary and not having one will likely result in costly legal action as well as having clearance into Colombia rejected.

There are multiple types of "zarpe" depending on your next destination (regional vs. national vs. international departure documents). Make sure this is specified and don't divert from the plan once underway (except in actual emergencies).

An approved agent is only required when dealing with the Port Captain. Neither DAS (immigration authorities) nor DIAN (customs) require an agent to do the paperwork. The agent is only needed to deal with the Port Captains, as they refuse to be contacted directly by the cruiser and demand the mediation of an agent.

However, unless you speak very good Spanish, it is not recommended to do the remaining clearance by yourself as it is very complicated and all paperwork is in Spanish. An agent makes this process simple – but agents do cost additional money.

Be sure that the Colombian port of entry you have stated on your zarpe, is the one you are clearing in at. Officials will be very suspicious as to why you have gone somewhere else than what was on your paperwork.

International clearance can take between 5-7 days in some Colombian ports and it can be slow and frustrating having to wait for your paperwork to be in order. Immigration and Port Captain must issue their paperwork first, before Customs can be visited to arrange for temporary import, hence the slow process.

Both local authorities and service providers are working together in an effort to ease the procedures and reduce the costs of clearing into the country. In fact, places like Marina Santa Marta and Marina Puerto Velero in Barranquilla, work with their own agents to avoid abuse and avoid charging agent fees by acting as agents for their customers.

Temporary Import Permit (TIP)

If staying less than 5 days, a Temporary Import Permit is not required.

If staying more than 5 days, then a Temporary Import Permit is required. There is no charge for the TIP – but lots of paperwork. As the TIP only applies to boats that stay more than 5 days, application for a TIP are not started until the 5th day. Once paperwork has been submitted by the agent, receipt of the TIP can take anything between 48 hours and 20+ days.

In 2015 the period of validity of temporary importation increased from 6 to 12 months, with renewal available for a further 12 months.

Be sure to check with your agent if moving on to another port that import papers can be finalised in your next port of call.

Clearance Costs

A Cruising Permit is required by all visiting yachts that stay more than 5 days in Colombia, whether they stay in one port/marina/anchorage or plan to cruise around. The permit is valid for the whole country for 2 months, renewable for a further 10 months.

See Fees for full details.

Note that clearance costs went up in January 2015, due to the transport cost of officials to the harbour/yacht now being the responsibility of the yacht owner. If entering Colombia at a port where officials are all situated in different offices, it might be advisable to arrange clearance with a group of several yachts using the same agent so that costs can be shared.

Alternatively, make clearance at a marina where officials are all on-site.


Clearing out of Colombia can take at least 24 hours. When you decide to leave, you must contact your agent to get the clearance to sail out of Colombia. You should request the zarpe 2 days before leaving.

It is important that the zarpe lists your next port of call - as stopping at a port not listed (or missing out on one) can cause severe difficulties. This applies even when entering the country.

Remember that if moving to a port in a new port authority, you will need to use an agent again to complete the port arrival procedures. When you leave Colombia you can anchor off the coast or islands en route to your next destination providing that you do not go ashore.

Float Plan

In order to improve the security for yachts cruising this coast, the Port Captains have requested that a voluntary float plan be lodged with the Captain when a zarpe is issued, by email to This can be updated on route if necessary.

Anchoring in Colombia before clearing-in

It is no longer possible to anchor along the Colombian coast prior to clearing into Colombia. Five Bays and the Tayrona Park are now open to cruisers, however a permit is required and there are associated fees, all easily acquired via an agent (see restrictions for further details).

Last updated April 2017.

Editor's Note: As we understand it, based on research to date these formalities are now up to date. We are however checking all points with the Colombian authorities via the government agency ProColombia, and will advise once all has been confirmed/amended by them.

Coast Guard
Tel:+57 (5) 655 0315 ,VHF Channel 16
This email address is a confidential one for reporting any suspicious activity or concerns.


A valid passport is required valid for 6 months from date of entry.

Visas are granted on arrival for a duration of 60 days. This visa is extendable in one month increments up to 120 days maximum. The maximum time allowed within Colombia is six months per year (from first arrival).

Extensions may be issued by the DAS (Security Police) and such extensions must be applied for before the previous visa expires.

Visas, if required, can be obtained on arrival, and, especially for those who have retained the services of an agent, there seems to be no difficulty in obtaining one.

An exit stamp from the DAS must be obtained on departure.

Identification must always be carried; as a precaution against theft, authorised copies are acceptable, and the Security Police will witness and photocopy passports and other documents for US$20.

A Colombian cruising permit and visas can be obtained from any Colombian embassy or consulate in one of the countries in the vicinity, such as Venezuela or Panama. There is a Colombian consulate in Colón in Panama, which is used to dealing with yachts intending to visit Colombia.

Last updated April 2017.


Temporary Import of vessel within Colombian Territory

This is required if you plan to stay more than 5 days in Colombia.

The Customs process for this can take some time. Some cruisers report 48 hours, others five working days and others 20+ days! Bear in mind however that in general agents will not submit the paperwork for a TIP until you have been in the country five days, so be sure to organise in advance with the agent if you plan to move on and collect your paperwork elsewhere once completed.

As soon as your agent gets the Visa from Immigration and "Permit of Official Visit" Certificate from the Port Captain, the agent will then proceed with the application for Temporary Importation of your Vessel.

After the application has been delivered and registered in the customs office a Customs Officer will come within the following 48 hours to verify the vessel.

There is no charge for temporary importation – but lots of paperwork. The period of validity of temporary importation has now increased from 6 to 12 months, with renewal available for a further 12 months. If using an agent, the charge for this second year (as reported to Noonsite) can be US$1700.

As of February 4, 2015, there is a new amendment to the customs procedures in Colombia and which is mainly enforced at the port of Santa Marta. The temporary import procedure now can be submitted by the captain/master of the vessel only if he/she is either listed as the owner on the boat's registration or if he/she has an authorization from the owner which MUST be stamped at a Colombian embassy or consulate in the country where the owner is present. A notarized letter will not be accepted.

Note: If you already plan on staying more time than your visa (i.e. extending your visa), it’s a good idea to let your agent know so he can make everything clear with Customs and it won’t take extra effort, time and money at a later date.

Other Customs Rules

Yacht parts can, theoretically, be imported free of taxes if marked "Yacht in Transit", but it seems, in practice, this sometimes does not happen and a duty of 28%, plus various fees, is charged. DHL do not appear to recognise the "Yacht in Transit" status, however FedEx do. It is also recommended to keep the value of the shipment under US$1000.00.

Firearms must be declared.

Vegetables, plants or plant material; meat and food products of animal origin are prohibited.

Last updated February 2018.


An Ebola check is now required so expect a visit from the ICA (Ministry of Agriculture).

Vaccination against yellow fever is recommended and malaria prophylaxis for the coastal and eastern jungle regions. Cholera is a risk in certain areas. Hepatitis is common.

ZIKA VIRUS ALERT: There have been recent safety alerts from the US State Department, UK Foreign Office, and Center for Disease Control (CDC) regarding travel to parts of Central and South America, Africa, southern Asia, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific islands. Colombia is an area of interest with multiple reported cases and active virus transmission. There is growing concern about the rapid spread of the ZIKA Virus and the impact of the virus on pregnant women and babies. ZIKA is transmitted by mosquitos in tropical and sub-tropical climates, and there is currently no cure or vaccine. This situation is evolving rapidly, so please refer to the CDC’s dedicated website if you are intending to cruise in one of the effected areas.

Last updated September 2016.


The document required for clearance are:-

  • Passport
  • Current Boat Registration Document
  • Zarpe or previous port exit document
  • Name of Owner
  • Address of Owner

As of February 4, 2015, if the owner (i.e. the person named on the boat registraion) is not present on board, authorisation for another person to be in charge of the vessel must be provided and must be stamped at a colombian embassy/consulate.


Tourist card: US$38/person

Cruising Permit: (approx. US$95) 
This permit is valid for two months, renewable for a further 10 months at the same charge. It is valid for the whole country.

Agent Fee: (approx. US$100)

Effective December 1st, 2014: Colombia began charging a reciprocity fee to citizens of Canada arriving at an airport in Colombia. The fee of approximately $88 CAD (or 160.000 Colombian pesos) per person is valid for a single entry into the country, and is payable by international credit card or debit card. Canadian cruisers have encountered this fee when checking into ports as well.

Last updated February 2018.


Cruising Permits around Santa Marta including Tayrona Natural National Park

If you want to cruise around the Park (including 5 bays) you should ask your agent for a permit when first clearing into Colombia. It is not permitted to anchor in the park if you do not have a permit, even if you are heading to Santa Marta and want to just stop-off.

The permit costs 175.700 Pesos Colombianos (around U$95.00) and includes cruising both day and night with a sailboat in the park, anchoring within the park and the local clearance you must have to move your boat around Colombia.

Last updated May 2012.

Wider Caribbean's Marine Protected Areas (CaMPAM)
A useful database of MPAs in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean region. All Marine Parks are MPAs, and therefore if wanting to find out about any marine parks in the islands you are visiting, details and location can be sourced via this website.

Clearance Agents

Agencia Serrana
Isla de San Andres
Tel:578 512 4628. Cell: 573156807980 ,VHF Channel 16
Contact Rene Cadron. For checking in and out and for clearing international ocean shipments.
Agencia Víctor Abello
Tel:(+57) 311 423 5356
Rafael Segarra
Barrio La Loma, Sector Perry Hill , 9 - - 3 Piso 1 , San Andres Island
Tel:+ 57 310 2340781 / +57 310 2915609 ,VHF Channel 16
Port agency company based in the Colombian island of San Andres. Contact: Julian Watson. Port officer for the OCC and host for the SSCA.
Anna Celilia Abello Lacouture
Santa Marta
Reported to co-ordinate well with the IGY Marina in Santa Marta.
Bush Agency
Isla de Providencia
Contact: Bernardo. Directions to office: from the dingy dock (next to the commercial dock) turn right and go to the only intersection, make a left and walk a couple of hundred yards. Bernardo's office is above the store on the right side of the street.
C.S.C. Santa Marta Shipping Agency S.A.S
Dino Shipping Agent , Santa Marta
Will also organise cruising permit for Tayrona Park and 5 Bays.
Cartagena De Indias Shipping Agency
Tel:575 6433766 ,VHF Channel 13,14,16
Cruising Services Marine S.A.S
POC: Paola Matson & Gladis Ramos , Manga Cra 25 , Calle 25-62, Cartagena
Shipping Agency for Clearance. Good English spoken.
Dino Alfonso Nelo Campo
Caribbean Sea of Colombia , Santa Marta
Tel:(57) 300-639-2640 / (57) 301-430-8166 / Cell:(57) 300-716-4689
Clearance agent in Santa Marta. Speaks excellent English. Clear fees
Recommended by cruisers.
Juan Carlos Soto
Clearance Agent Bahia Solano
Tel:313-746-8124 / 314-606-2670
Located next to the Port Captain's office. Will deal with all the paperwork for one fee.
Manfred Alwarelt
of Mundo Mar/ Defina Express/ White Light , Cartagena
Tel:5 666 3230 / 317 729 7367 or 301 222 1255 (mob.)
English speaking clearance agent.
Marina Puerto Velero
Playa Puerto Velero, Tubará – Atlántico , Vía al mar Barranquilla - Cartagena, kilómetro 30
Tel:(+57) 310 632 9109
Romovela ltda
(Edgar Romero's agency) , Santa Marta and Cartagena
Edgar been helping cruisers for many years with clearance, and zarpes and every situation imaginable. His agency has been found to be competent, reliable and very helpful. Highly recommended.
White Light Agency
Tel:(+57) 5 666 3230
Manfred Alwarelt & William Arroyo


If traveling with dogs or cats, the following documents must be produced on arrival and a visit to the ICA (Instituto Colombiano Agropecuario) office is necessary:

• Sanitary Certificate (original and copy)
• Vaccination Certificate (original and copy)

Dogs and cats must be vaccinated against rabies at least 30 days prior to travel to Colombia. Rabies Vaccination Certificate not required for pets coming from rabies free country (US is not rabies free) Pets must be vaccinated agains Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis and Pavovirus A Health Certificate is needed from recognised Veterinarian to confirm pet is healthy, free of parasites and there is no evidence of communicable diseases to humans and it is highly recommended that pets are on a flea and tick prevention program when entering Colombia. Certificate should have been issued as close as possible to date of travel but not more than 14 days.

Further details can be obtained from Pet Travel Store. Forms from

Val Ellis
Val Ellis says:
Feb 22, 2018 12:22 PM

Report from Mary Bock

Regarding TIP.
We are using an agent, that is OK with us.
However, it is costing 1700.00. USD
Something to do with this being the second year our boat is here.

Lizevans says:
Jan 05, 2018 02:19 AM

I would like to advise cruisers who need to receive spares into Santa Marta not to use DHL as they do not acknowledge the 'Vessel in Transit' status and charge the import duty and local VAT which are 29% in total plus high currency uplift.
Advice is to use FedEx and keep the value of shipment under US$1000.00.
Have the package delivered c/o Marina Santa Marta and ask the friendly office staff to point out to the FedEx delivery person the 'Vessel in Transit' status of the shipment, to avoid paying the import taxes.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Oct 26, 2016 03:10 PM

Posted on behalf of Evan Gatehouse & Diane Selkirk (Canadian Cruisers):

We got a surprise when visiting Cartagena recently. Because Canada's government charges a fee to Colombias for a biometric identity check when they apply for a visa, Columbia charges Canadians a "reciprocity" visa fee. It's 171,000 pesos (about $85 CDN) each and we got a nice official sticker in our passports to prove it. Otherwise we loved Cartagena.

More details in this older news report.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
May 31, 2016 02:07 PM

Posted on behalf of Javier Palacios Fenech:

1 - Stolen Caribe dinghy with Yamaha motor in Islas del Rosario, Isla grande. Thieves from Baru go at the weekends to Rosario Islands. Many related events there in the last few weeks. Thefts on the rise.
2 - Bureaucracy getting worse and more expensive for boaters in Colombia. Get ready to pay 200 Euros to enter the country for import permits and so many more permits to feed the agent and Colombia bureaucracy.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Feb 26, 2016 08:25 PM

Posted by Scuppers under San Andres:
I used Julian Watson from Agenport as my clearance agent. I cannot say enough great things about Julian. He speaks great English, answers all e-mails quickly, he met me at the wharf on arrival to sort the clearance and even showed me around town on his scooter to get my bearings. He was always on time and never kept me waiting. He also organised good tradesmen for work that I required onboard and even stayed for translation as my Spanish is minimum. He is professional and does all this with a big smile on his face. Thanks Julian, we couldn't have achieved what we did without you. I would highly recommend Julian and will definately be using him again.
Ph: 3204899772
VHF: 16

Keith Pomeroy
Keith Pomeroy says:
Oct 09, 2015 07:11 PM

Recently entered Colombia at Santa Marta, we would like to give a big recommendation to Dino of csc-shipping agency. Dion is prompt efficient and wealth of knowledge. Santa Marta is an excellent stop with major hiking opportunities and travel. Email him before you com or ask for him when you arrive.

eaudree96 says:
Oct 21, 2017 12:32 PM

I did the opertation with the PNH coast guard that day. I worked for the UN. The women on the boat had no ID plus crew did not check in with immigration. THATS THE REAL STORY

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Feb 14, 2015 06:58 PM

Posted on behalf of Frank VIrgintino from Marina Zarpar, DR:
13 February 2015
We have received a few boats, the most recent today, Canadian flagged, that sailed directly from Cartagena to Ile a Vache Haiti. I have never heard of boats being boarded by the authorities in Haiti, but in this case, the Haitian Coast Guard assisted by what appears to be United Nations military or police, boarded the boat and retained the owner and crew a number of days while the boat endured extensive checking.
I would recommend that boats coming from Colombia to Haiti, clear first at Jamaica at Port Antonio before proceeding east to Haiti.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Feb 05, 2015 01:36 PM

Colombia Cruising Guide: A PDF copy of the Colombia Cruising Guide in Spanish and English can be downloaded from the following link: - note this is a large file (300MB).

Gerard  Van der Horst
Gerard Van der Horst says:
Jan 20, 2015 03:31 AM

Prices has gone up for "clearance" in januari 2015 due to transportcosts of the officials to visit the harbour or your yacht to be payed by the yachtowner(new 1/1/2015). And there is an Ebola check now so also ICA (ministery of agriculture) is involved now. Totalprice (up to 2 month stay) has gone up to us$280-$350 ( jan 2015) Agent costs are just about $100. It really is a lot of work.(23 forms) White Light agency (Manfred +57 311 400 6394) in Cartagena did his work well. You have to show up several times( different days) to sign papers If you are with a group of several yachts you can negotiate as "travelcost" and " propinia" can be shared.
We sailed from Aruba with next port of call "Cartagena". We stopped 4 to 5 times in Colombia and even were visited by the coastguard for " inspection" No trouble at all". Do not say "your motor broke down" or they order a mechanic for repairs. Only the captain can decide or he is too tired or it is blowing too hard) We were 3 weeks on route to Cartagena. We did not stop in Santa Marta but just anchored in Taganga 2 miles north and went by public bus. If you cleare in in Santa Marta (Marina is also Agency to clear you in now) you have to pay again in Cartagena only for the Port registry and Agent fee in Cartagena).(Cartagena portcontrol have an AIS receiver and sent you a request to contact them) . Nb The port captain legally only deal with agents. Other officials can be done by yourselves but i certainly do NOT recommend this as is see how time consuming this is (days) even for a proffesional as your agent
!!! White light Acency gave us a sound bill with all costs specified). Nb the noonsit info " New Fees" dates from november 2011 so is not up to date anymore!)

wiphepfer says:
Jul 20, 2014 11:45 PM

contractor recommendation
we had recently 3 month refit of a 85 ft motor yacht, all new paintsyainless steelwork , new teak decks , hydraulic piping , anchor and chain galvanizing
work was very satisfactory done by " Cartagena Caribbean Boat Repair",
tel0057 318 272 2458
Alvaro is an american trained manager , fluent in english, always on time , and gets the impossible done , reliable and honest
i was there 3 years ago and got already some good work done
all prices are app. one third of the USA standard
300ton new travel lift available
wip hepfer
m/y contina

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Jul 07, 2014 02:06 PM

Just to let you know we are now hosting both the Colombia Tourism's Cruising Guide Book as well as our Pacific Lesser Known Coast of Colombia cruising guides on our website:
The tourism's book is a massive 300Mb so we encourage only people who really plan on cruising there to download it. Otherwise it costs us a lot to host such a big file.
Eric & Sherrell - SV Sarana

kairos48 says:
May 02, 2014 10:05 PM

When arriving in Colombia you must use an agent to clear in and out. You cannot do this on your own. I cleared in at Providencia and I would like to take the opportunity to recommend Bernardo from the "Bush Agency" email: or go directly to his office in town after you anchor in the bay. He is easy to find, from the dingy dock (next to the commercial dock) turn right and go to the only intersection, make a left and walk a couple of hundred yards...his office is above his store on the right side of the street. Mr. Bush provided me with a friendly, professional and easy clearances. Not only did he handle my entry into Colombia and my exit for San Andreas but he was most helpful with my Temporary Import Permit. He did not charge me for the TIP and made arrangements for me to pick it up in San Andreas with Mr. Rene who was also quite helpful. Mr. Bush speaks English excellently and his fees were totally transparent. Mr Bush does a great job and gets it done quickly. The reports of long waiting times were not what I experienced at all. If you go to Provedencia, Mr. Bush is the agent to see.

peterdstokes says:
Feb 17, 2014 02:25 PM

Arrived at IGY marina in Santa Marta on Nov 1st 2013 and stayed until mid January 2014 whilst we travelled extensively in Columbia and Ecuador. We had the marina highly recommended to us and we also had our agent Dino also highly recommended and both were absolutely right. The staff at the marina were courteous, friendly and very helpful at all times, and facilities were excellent with showers, laundry, lounge and clean toilets.
Dino was superb. He handled all the customs and immigration requirements efficiently and effectively, keeping us informed throughout, and even attempted to teach us Spanish! Sorry we weren't such good pupils Dino!
Santa Marta is a great base to travel from in this corner of SA. Cartegena is one of the prettiest cities you could imagine, but make sure to stay in the old town. Bogota is a 'must', very cosmopolitan, with many museums (particularly the Gold Museum), opera house and much more - get a guide, it's a good investment.
Barichara is a short flight and taxi ride from Bogota but is another 'must see' place. Stay in one of the fabulous little boutique guest houses, and do the walk from there to Guane - fantastic!
We moved on to Ecuador to do Quito, Cotopaxi, and a week in the Yasuni National Park experiencing pristine Amazonian rainforest - stupendous! Then easy trip back to Santa Marta via Bogota.

Peter and Helen
S/V Common Crossing
Tatyana 48cc

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CSSN Annual Report 2016 Reported Yacht Crime – Caribbean

CSSN Annual Report 2016 Reported Yacht Crime – Caribbean  (23 Feb 2017)

Sea Kidnappings Rise Despite Plummeting Global Piracy

Sea Kidnappings Rise Despite Plummeting Global Piracy   (06 Feb 2017)

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Honduras: Three separate pirate attacks on cruising vessels in the past week  (22 Jan 2017)

Mexico/Central America: Pacific Weather Resource Update

Mexico/Central America: Pacific Weather Resource Update  (16 Oct 2016)

Colombia, Isla de San Andres: Dutch couple found dead; their yacht found upturned

Colombia, Isla de San Andres: Dutch couple found dead; their yacht found upturned  (04 Apr 2016)

2015 Atlantic Seasonal Hurricane Forecast

2015 Atlantic Seasonal Hurricane Forecast  (12 Apr 2015)

New NOAA East Pacific Experimental Forecasts now available

New NOAA East Pacific Experimental Forecasts now available  (27 Mar 2014)

Eastern Caribbean and now the Pacific: The Coconut Telegraph SSB Net extends its reach

Eastern Caribbean and now the Pacific: The Coconut Telegraph SSB Net extends its reach  (28 Feb 2014)

Pan Pacific Net needs Net Controllers

Pan Pacific Net needs Net Controllers  (24 Oct 2013)

Great New Service for noonsite users: Get notified of cruising news, reports and country updates as they are posted

Great New Service for noonsite users: Get notified of cruising news, reports and country updates as they are posted  (23 May 2013)

The Caribbean Directory of Marine Services and Vendors launched this week

The Caribbean Directory of Marine Services and Vendors launched this week  (15 May 2013)

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Summary of Security & Piracy Reports 2012  (28 Feb 2013)

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Colombia to Aruba: Missing Dutch Sailor on SY Jeri  (21 Jan 2013)

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Colombia, Santa Marta, Taganga Bay: Armed Boarding and Robbery  (01 Oct 2012)

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Caribbean Free Cruising Guides - New Editions  (04 Apr 2012)

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Colombia, Cartagena - Fuel Problems  (29 Jul 2010)

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Colombia, Cartagena - Spate of Dinghy & Outboard Thefts  (23 Feb 2010)

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Cartagena, Colombia: Yacht Attacked by Pirates (Update)  (07 Dec 2009)

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Cruising Yacht Kersti sinks on route to Cartagena  (03 Dec 2009)

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New Fees for Colombia - Updated  (18 Jun 2009)

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Ecuador’s Puerto Lucia Provides A Perfect Base En Route to the South Seas  (05 Sep 2003)

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Updated advice for boats sailing through piracy areas  (19 Aug 2002)