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Los Roques, Las Aves, Bonaire & Curacao: Latest Updates

By Sue Richards last modified Jul 18, 2017 04:42 PM
Things are changing (yet again) in the Venezuela outlying islands of Los Roques and Las Aves. Latest report from cruisers - June 2017.

Published: 2017-07-18 19:15:00
Countries: Bonaire , Curacao , Venezuela

June 2017: Report from Jean-Pierre Germain of SY Eleuthera about Los Roques:

We were in Los Roques in June 2017.

The isles appear to be on their own, or at least distancing themselves from the mainland Venezuela policies.

We were always safe but had to put up with minor "irregularities".  It took 6 hours to complete the port, immigration, customs and cruising permit and more than 6 kms walking.

The currency is as bad as ever and for $USD206 (Cruising permits) for 2 boats, I brought back nearly Bolivar 2,000,000.  (The Pharmacy is still the point for currency exchange but we managed to get about 15% more Bolivars than the pharmacist was willing to give initially.  Bargaining seems acceptable.) The bundle of cash fitted well into my 2 backpacks but weighed nearly 50 pounds.  A mate commented that the Bolivar was cheaper than toilet paper thus....

November 2011: Report from Mary Stone of MS. ASTOR

Los Roques:

See 2011 Noonsite news item

Chavez is on the path to expropriating yachts to use a ferry boats to move average Venezuelans to and from the Roques for a holiday. He has targeted private property on the islands as well as some of the small upscale hotels. If you go to Los Roques avoid Holidays. Don't stay too long, you are likely to be reported, run off, or fined.

Because the Los Roques waters are pretty much fished out.. Los Roques fishermen are showing up in Las Aves to fish.

(Editor's Note: You are not allowed to stay too long in Los Roques (see formalities information here. It is a National park and the Guardia has rules, 2 weeks max., plus you have to pay to visit the park. However many people do anchor in the outer islands for weeks and even months, taking the risk of being caught and fined.)

Las Aves:

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 the Aves. If you show up in the Aves before going to Puerto Cabello, you be be run off. That includes Sotavento and Barlovento. The Guardia has been making regular trips recently to Barlovento twice a week or more to clear it out.

Yachts must go to Puerto Cabello first and check in. The Lieutenant that heads the Guardia Station of Las Aves de Sotavento has indicated that he will accept you going to Cabello, doing a three day check in and check out with Carlos the agent there, and then come back to the Aves, but only for a few weeks not a few months. That includes any and all yachts that have been "regulars" in the Aves regardless of the food and water gifts made to the Station Crew when the Venezuelan Navy fails to pick up crew and deliver supplies about once per months. In other words... no more sailing from Bonaire or Curacao to the Aves and returning with out checking into Puerto Cabello first. The military bosses also have expensive sport fishers and come to the Aves for their fun. When they see too many yachts or fishermen populating their "territory", the command structure lights up for the next few months and things start changing.

Conditions at the marina in Puerto Cabello are unknown now. Also unknown is what Carlos the Agent is charging for check in check out services.... Additionally it is uncertain of the time required to get a Cruising Permit from the port captain – is it still in the neighborhood of a month to 6 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. If you speak some Spanish it is helpful.

Bonaire and Curacao:

In other news, 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 6 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 a anchor permit issued by the Harbor Master for USD 10 and it requires you to file a float plan upon check out - that out of each anchorage you visit. As for the boat, you can get 6 months and a possible extension for another six months after which you must import the boat at a high tax rate. A few months ago they chained 40 boats to the dock or the ground until their status could be sorted, and sent the big black scarey rubber dinghy filled with armed Coasties to board all boats and check papers etc etc etc. 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 Helecopter hovers taking pictures of boats... then the black rubber dink shows up a day or so later. Occasionally you be buzzed by the USA AWACS plane out doing who knows what.

In Curacao there is a special status granted to yachts in storage. Any local Marina or Shipyard will have the details and fees associated with that.

Motor Yacht MS. ASTOR
Living between Venezuela, Bonaire, Curacao and Aruba


Our thanks to Phil Chapman of SV Chaser 2 who has clarified required formalities for clearing into Venezuela

When you clear into Venezuela, you go to the port captain, you have to have bought 2 stamps from a maybe near or not so near office, these are 1 Unit Tributaria (UT) each, a UT is 75 Bolivares, so the 2 stamps cost about 2 US$. If you don't speak Spanish, don't know where to go or don't want the hassle, you can pay an agent to do it for you. That can be up to 200US$, for 18 months, though it has to be renewed every 6 months, at a cost of 2 dollars (do it yourself) or up to 100$ if you pay an agent. They can charge what they like, maybe it depends on the look of your boat.

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