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Cruising in Venezuela - a local's perspective

By Sue Richards last modified Sep 25, 2008 11:28 AM

Published: 2008-09-25 11:28:36
Countries: Venezuela

Thomas Pollehne wrote to noonsite, in response to the news of a fatal attack on a French cruising couple, close to Marina de Caraballeda. See the full report here.

Thomas offers some good local advice for any cruisers intending to visit this area of Venezuela, and has also offered his contact details should anyone wish to contact him for further safe cruising tips (see bottom of report).

Dear noonsite,

Rather then anchoring in Caraballeda I would strongly advise visiting yachts to take shelter in the bay of the private marina in Puerto Azul, some 6 nm east of Caraballeda. Although this is a private marina, it has a quite protected bay and when anchoring leewards of the inner bay entrance, boats are quite safe as there is at least some security around and lots of light. There is a harbourmaster on duty during office hours and after office hours Puerto Azul security monitors channel 16 .

I do not recommend this as a landing place or a place to go onshore for shopping, but at least, so far, it has been quite safe. Some basic services are available in the harbour shop but beeing a private club, yachts need to ask for permission first.

Club Puerto Azul was founded in 1955 and was the first all service marina and club in the whole Caribbean. Of course due to the time passing and several difficult situations the club has faced over the years (2 landslides and many bad governments), the place is not what it used to be - but somehow still a reference in the Venezuelian sailing activity. In fact we have hosted (in the past) several Sunfish World Championships as well as a Starboat Worlds.

I have served on the board of directors in the past and I know that being a private marina we do not have the capacity or possibility to berth foreign boats on the docks, unless they have an invitation from a shareholder.

But if you check out Puerto Azul (www.puertoazul.com) or see it on Google Earth, (10.37.13 N 66.44.55 W) you will see that it has a quite protected and deep enough bay (4-8 m) and on occasions world travellers use the place as a stopover.

As I said, and in light of the overall Venezuelian security situation (it's just lousy everywhere) I find this place much safer to anchor in the La Guaira area (as close as possible) to the inner bay between the tips of the big (west) and small (east) breakwater. There is a drydock with 85 ton travellift and repair facilities, as well as a harbour shop with some boat supplies. However all of these services are usually only for members, although in cases of emergency we have lifted out foreign visiting yachts and the shop can be used after asking for landing permission.

I myself have been a member for over 40 years and I am still a very active sailor (just did the ARC 2007 on TAIMA) and keep my boat there. If any cruisers need some more advice on where to go or not to go while in Venezuelian waters, I am happy for them to contact me.

I hate it when I see that we are as a country second runner up on the piracy hitlist short after Somalia, so if a contact might help to guide somebody to stay out of trouble. I am just glad to help. Of course being Venezuelians we also have a contact or two with local authorities should that be needed. In the meantime I really hope the government does something serious about these crimes to bring back our country to what it used to be, one very fine place and one of the better sailing grounds through the Caribbean - or like the local advertisement used to state: "the best kept secret in the Caribbean".

Kind regards,

Thomas Pollehne
thomas_pollehne@cantv.net
Cellphone (+58-414-2340707)

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