Venezuela: 2010 Safety and Security Incidents

Published 12 years ago, updated 4 years ago

These reports are taken from [BROKENLINK], a website run by Robert Williams who is based in Venezuela and works with cruisers. Although Robert will be shortly moving to St. Martin where he will be providing a WiFi service in the lagoon, the Venezuela security reports will be kept up to date via friends based there. Note that the following list does include some incidents already reported on noonsite.

21 December 2009

Although this incident didn’t take place in Venezuelan waters, it was most likely instigated by Venezuelan pirates, so I will mention it here.

1) Attack position was 40 MLS North of Trinidad on the rhumb line to Prickly Bay.

2) The pirate boat approached from behind, that is from the South.

3) Before boarding, shots were fired, one passing about 1/2 a meter from Robert at the helm.

4) 7 – 8 Spanish speaking men in a pirogue, boarded by about 4 of them. Tied up and towel placed overheads.

5) While men were aboard Triton drifted with sails up and engine in neutral. Meanwhile, the pirogue circled Triton.

6) Triton stripped of “everything”. Crew unharmed.

7) The pirate boat left in South Westerly direction, that is, towards Venezuela.

7) Description of pirate boat: Old, wooden, blue/red pirogue type with 3 x 175 hp Yamaha outboards.

31 December 2009: 8.30am.

A Swedish cruising couple and 2 friends were walking into town. Just past the Vamasca marine store on the main road into town (Av Raul Leon), a lone robber pulled a gun as he was walking past them put the gun to one of the men back and took his backpack. He then backed away pointing his gun at the cruiser and walked away with the backpack. No one was injured and the backpack contained just 100BsF >$20 and a cell phone.

5 February 2010: 8.30am.

A Canadian flagged boat “Kajou” left Los Testigoes bound for Porlamar, Margarita. 5 miles out of Los Testigoes he was boarded by 5 armed Venezuelans. The captain and (1) crew were tied up while the pirates took everything. According to the captain, the same thing happened to a friend of his a few days earlier. It is believed that there is a spotter on Los Testigoes who is informing the pirates in Carupano when a single sailboat is underway, they then wait until they are out of sight of land before attacking.

20 February 2010 1.15am – 1.30am. Porlamar Harbor.

Sailboat Penelope boarded and robbed.

1.15am captain is woken by sounds on deck to find a pirogue alongside his boat. They got away with his bicycle and outboard engine. The dinghy was lifted out of the water but not chained to the boat.

1.30am. Sailboat Arabella was boarded.

Captain woke to sounds on his deck, probably same guys as above. Captain shoved a flare gun in one of their faces and they skedaddled without getting anything.

3 March 2010

Sailboat Our World boarded at night crew woke up to sounds on deck and the would-be thief jumped into a pirogue.

8 May 2010

I have taken this from the online Venezuelan news site

Early reports told of a woman being rescued from a life raft by a passing cargo ship, the San Fernando. She told the crew she had been drifting for 13 days and that her dead husband had been lying for some of those days on the raft beside her. However, the yacht, now identified as the Spirit of Cologne II, was discovered off the coast of Venezuela with the husband’s body still on board.

The San Fernando had then taken the woman for medical treatment to the port of Curacao, where she was delivered into the hands of the Coastguard, given treatment for sun blisters, and greeted by the consul for Germany, Bas Kooijman.

Since then the Coastguard has made a statement which it has circulated to other authorities in the Caribbean area, containing the following information: ‘The name of the boat is Spirit of Cologne II, home port Koln, Germany. It was attacked on Saturday, April 3, one mile off the North coast of Venezuela along the Paria de Peninsula. The wife’s name is Angelica Ropke-Wiels, German. During the attack the husband, Hans Jorgen Ropke was shot and killed.

After the assailants left, Mrs. Ropke stayed on the boat trying to sail in a northerly direction for four days. As all communication equipment was removed she could contact no one. She eventually abandoned the boat in favor of her life-raft and drifted away from the boat which was left floating and seemingly in good condition. She was picked up on April 16, 2010, at approx 10.35 a.m. by a merchant’s vessel at position 13 16 01N 67 51 01W, a location to the northeast of the island of Curacao.’

There is no information as to why the sailor eventually abandoned the boat in favor of her life-raft or why she headed in a northerly direction after the attack.

29th August 2010

Sunday afternoon an Italian sailor Emiliano Astore (36) was found dead on his boat with 2 gunshot wounds in his chest. The boat name is “Juno Miami”. He was anchored between the Chacachacare boatyards and the town of Boca Del Rio. The dinghy and engine were still attached to the boat when he was found. Further information is that he had been repeatedly warned that it was dangerous to anchor near Boca Del Rio both by Juan of marina Juan’s, by myself and by both the boatyards in Chacachacare. He had been anchored there for over a week. His family have arrived to take the body back with them. 4 men, 3 of them policemen have been arrested for this attack.

8th September 2010

Sailing boat “Nergal” dragged on the beach during a squall. He negotiated a price for a tow from a local fishing boat. While that boat was towing him off another fishing boat joined in to help. When he was anchored the second fishing boat demanded $200 which the owner of “Nergal”, Trevor, refused to pay. They then stole a number of items including the dinghy. Around midnight he was boarded by an unknown assailant armed with a knife that repeatedly tried to stab him. Trevor fired a flare into the assailant’s stomach who then left in a hurry. Trevor was not badly injured in the attack.

15th October 2010

Friday morning 20 miles out of Los Testigoes headed for Porlamar a cruising couple aboard the American flagged sailboat “Boldly Go” was boarded by 4 armed men who stole everything. The couple was unharmed and they are now in Porlamar.

This is a repeat of the incidents that happened in February of this year. I have been advising everyone to steer well clear of Los Testigoes and come directly to Porlamar.

25th October 2010

Powerboat “Jo na lisa” was boarded by 4 men armed with knives and guns. They took all the electronics and computers. The captain and crew were hit on the head but were not badly hurt. This incident took place at 1 am Monday morning and the boat was anchored right in the middle of the other boats in Porlamar harbor.

13th December 2010

S/V Oyster left Porlamar bound for Grenada. At approx 1.30pm at position 11° 12.9 N; 063° 25.5 W they were attacked by a pirogue with 5 to 6 men with pistols and one with an AK47. Oyster was fired at and they returned fire with flare pistols. the pirogue left in the direction of the SW. The captain (Jurgen) and crew of Oyster were unhurt and the only damage was bullet holes in the hull. They returned to the Hilton Marina in Porlamar.

20th December 2010

Power vessel Flintstone left Porlamar bound for St Martin. They were stopped by the Venezuelan coast guard and forced to return then forced to go to the fisherman’s dock at El Morro which caused damage to the boat. The boat was searched and fuel samples were taken. In the end, they paid $3,000 in bribes before they were allowed to leave.

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