Venezuela cruising: An update from Isla Margarita
This report by ex-cruisers Kris & Sandra Hartford of S/V “Nomotos” who spent two and a half years in Venezuela, most of it in Porlamar.
Published 7 years ago, updated 5 years ago
We still have Friends on Isla Margarita Venezuela that we keep in touch with. They favoured us with the following report of the situation there that we would like to share with Noonsite.
At times it is a bit uncomfortable. There are no cruisers in Margarita and they doubt you would find a dozen in the whole country. Revolutions, real ones like the one they lived through in Iran, or pseudos like the one they are living in now, are not much fun. Since the Venezuelan pseudo revolution does not consist of armed clashes or house to house fighting (that is left to the criminal element) their movements are not greatly restricted although prudence and awareness are handy companions.
Lying Juan has disappeared. The Concorde is now operated as a hotel by a group called Wyndom. The yachties are all gone. There are still a few landlubber expats hanging out since the unreal rate on the parallel market makes living here really cheap if you have Dollars or Euros. For the locals, it is brutally expensive between the double flagellation of 700% inflation and the extreme shortages of food, medicines and personal hygiene products. Our Friends do not know how they manage it.
We did some investigations of our own as best we could from away. Google Earth showed only fishing boats in Porlamar Harbour – no sailboats – confirming our Friends’ assertion that there are no cruisers left there.
There was some footage on the Internet of Rattan’s downtown store with the windows papered over. We assume that it has closed. It was unclear on some other video that we saw on the Internet that the Sigo Mall might also be closed.
Google Earth showed a lot of fishing boats and perhaps three sailboats in the Chacachacare Boatyard (Astillero y Varadero del Caribe). We hauled there one year and it was busy.
From its website, it appears that Medregal Village Marina is still in business. We spent a Christmas and a New Years there one year with a good group of cruisers. There were a lot of photos and videos on the website. We have no idea when they were taken.
There were a couple of Caucasian guests photographed with the rest of the people appearing to be Hispanic. Some photos of the anchorage showed no boats. Some photos of the anchorage showed perhaps three / four boats. The boatyard showed a dozen or so boats. We checked out Google Earth but it was a waste of time as this area is not detailed. Perhaps Medregal Village is now all local business focusing more on hotel/restaurant.
We wonder how the former Puerto La Cruz Marina (now we believe renamed Marina Bahia Redondo Internacional), the historic center for American / European cruisers in Venezuela is doing? Their website does not show much. Google Earth showed a number of sailboats in the marina and some in the boatyard. In its heyday, the marina and the boatyard would both have been packed with cruising boats.
From the Mainland comes the truly scary reporting of food riots, the highest inflation rate in the world, Nicolas Maduro voted out of office but refusing to leave, long lineups for and shortages of government supported staples, the incredible rise in violent crime, armed gangs controlling the streets, the incredibly high cost of food if you can get it and people starving in the countryside.
Perhaps as reported by our landlubber friends, Isla Margarita has escaped the worst of it. We were boarded and robbed by pirates in Porlamar Harbour in what would have been better times. Going there now may well be suicide.
Even though we are no longer cruisers we will continue to monitor Noonsite for news of the places that we visited and relished. Thank you so much for being there for us and for all cruisers.
Kris & Sandra Hartford