While much of the talk about piracy revolves around the Indian Ocean, Venezuela has been getting more and more dangerous over recent years. As local knowledge of the problem spread, fewer and fewer boats are venturing to the magnificent, but dangerous, cruising grounds. The question is, if there are so many idyllic cruising grounds in the world, why go where it's dangerous?
Venezuela coastal regions, showing the worst trouble spots - check before you go
According to www.noonsite.com!Noonsite, the world's greatest online resource for cruising sailors to all countries, in certain areas (in particular Margarita and Testigos) there have been an increasing number of muggings, robberies and even knife attacks reported by visiting sailors, which have caused many to avoid this beautiful country and change their cruising plans for elsewhere.
However, it is important to remember that with a coastline of nearly 1800 miles and 100’s of offshore islands, Venezuela is a vast cruising area, and whilst there are some parts that should perhaps still be avoided or at least approached with care, there are other areas that are safe to cruise where sailors do not encounter any problems.
Noonsite recommends that the 'safest' places to anchor in Venezuela might be Los Roques, Isla de la Blanquilla (as it permanently has the guardia nacional sited here) and the islands of Aves de Sotavento and Barlovento.
Cruisers report that the Venezuelan Coast Guard are patrolling very visibly around Margarita and also eastward along the Paria Peninsula, and the Coast Guard station at Testigos is taking more assertive steps to prevent crime in that vicinity.
General advice from cruisers here is 'don't let the beautiful surroundings put you off guard'. Be careful not to flash money around and be sure to secure all items on deck and always lift and lock the dinghy and outboard at night, wherever you are in the Caribbean. As the local sailors say, 'Lock it, lift it, or lose it!'
In 2012 two attacks have been reported to date:
The first a boarding, violent attack and robbery off the NE coast near Carupano, and the second a boarding and armed robbery at gunpoint in the Orinoco Delta.
If cruising the Manamo/Orinoco area of Venezulea, locals advise that visiting yachts SHOULD NOT go to villages or towns like Boca de Uracoa. Stay between the very friendly and peaceful Warao people and at the Eco Lodges, of which there are several in the region.
If contemplating approaching Venezuelan waters, check the www.noonsite.com!Noonsite_Piracy_pages, the Caribbean_Safety_Net and Venezuela's own security network, www.onsa.org.ve!ONSA, for information on the current situation.