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Venezuela: Empty yacht found adrift - owner located

By Caribbean Safety & Security Net and Alex Paquin — last modified Feb 12, 2014 11:18 AM
Contributors: Sue Klumb
Following the alert put out by the cruising community at the end of January concerning this crew-less yacht found adrift in the waters of Morrocoy National Park, Venezuela, it turns out this was simply a case of a yacht breaking free of its mooring and drifting a substantial distance before it was found.

Published: 2014-02-05 11:00:00
Topics: Piracy & Security
Countries: Venezuela

UK flagged sailing vessel "Corcovado", white hull, registration Road Harbour, Tortola, BVIs, was found adrift on January 25, 2014, in the waters of Morrocoy National Park, Venezuela, just north of Cayo Sombrero. There were no crew on board and the Venezuelan Coast Guard took the boat into custody concerned about what had happened to the skipper and crew.

Luckily however the authorities found a business card with the owner's name inside the boat, and it turns out that the boat had drifted over 550 nautical miles after breaking free from its mooring in Gustavia, Saint Barthélemy 17 days earlier on the evening of the 12th January.

Read the full story here.

On arriving in Venezuela to claim his boat back, the owner was warned by the military that the boat had been stripped of everything but clothes, by fisherman, including food. He writes on his facebook page;
"It's hard to believe what I saw today. They let me go on board today. Only me. They had warned me of the fisherman that stole everything but I had no idea? The boat was covered with black, boot marks, from bow to stern. Fisherman are barefoot, was my thought??? The only things on the boat were the winches and the sails. Everything is totally destroyed or gone. I mean everything. From the anchors to the wire. Every pump, every breaker, compressor, tool, fan, spare parts, fishing gear, refrigeration torn out. Every single light bulb, fixture and fitting. They stole every hose and hose clamp, knife fork spoon and can of food. The boat was completely bare bones except for the floor boards. Even in the smallest of places anything mechanical or of use to these people was gone. Even the halyards. Every bit of running rigging, shackle and blocks. Gone. The whole boat is destroyed like it had been in a hurricane. I was trying to imagine how it happened. I think there must been fights, over who got what. They must have had days to dismantle my boat. It's unbelievably sad, what they did to this wonderful boat. It's very unlikely that I will be sailing it out of here. The hull is a bit battered, but sound, and there is a main sail and a jib and I still have the engine."

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Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Feb 17, 2014 02:27 PM

Posted on behalf of Terry Bannon.
The situation in Venezuela is quite dire. Whenever they are selling something like powdered milk, flour, coffee, chicken, oil, butter. rice and many other essentials long lines of hopeful buyers form, in fact, people join lines just to see what has come in since it will probably be something they need. It’s like the old Soviet Union; everybody carried a string bag just in case something appeared in the shops.
Of course this is no excuse for stripping somebody’s boat but it gives you an idea of why they did it (even the Guardia Nacional).
Although I hate bad-mouthing Venezuela the truth is the truth. We have nice beaches but security is a problem. The exchange rate, at around BsF 80/1$ makes the things you can actually find to buy incredibly cheap including restaurants, booze and other things of interest to visitors. But, it’s not a destination for the faint of heart. Crime is a problem especially on the mainland and Margarita, formerly the exception, is now posting criminal statistics unimaginable a few years ago although they don’t yet approach the horrifying data from Venezuela proper (69 violent deaths per 100,000 inhabitants last year).
Cruisers no longer come here in significant numbers and the foregoing is the principal reason..

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