Navigation

The information below is from personal experience of the writer, and is meant as a guideline only. Use this information at your own risk. As the captain of your vessel you are the only one responsible for its safety. You have to use your common sense and seamanship when interpreting and using this information.

CHARTS

Imray:

    • D232 ABC ISLANDS
    • D231 Aruba

DMA:

  • 24460 Cabo de la Vela to Punta San Juan (ABC islands with Venezuelan Coast)
  • 24463 Aruba

The Aruba charts in general do not have a lot of detail for yachts outside of the harbors. The electronic charts have more detail.

WAYPOINTS

As the captain of your vessel you have to use your common sense and seamanship. You cannot trust the following waypoints blindly!

VHF CHANNELS

  • 16 for the Coastguard, emergencies only.
  • 16 for Aruba Port Control – they will switch to 11 or 14 depending which channel is in use by the pilot while doing harbor maneuvers.
  • 06 for the local charter fishing boats.
  • 16 and 12 for Valero Marine – traffic control for oil tankers at the refinery. They are sometimes involved in nautical emergencies at the east end of the island.
  • Vhf 16 for the Renaissance marina – they will switch to 69.
  • 68 for local pleasure (and fishing) boats, and Bucuti yacht Club and Aruba Nautical Club.
  • Local watersports use 19, 21a, 23a, 70a, 71a, 72a, 80a, 81a.
  • Sometimes cruisers will set up a net on channel 18a.

To and From Aruba

If you are coming from (or going to) the East we recommend you set a waypoint at least 2 miles south of the East point of Aruba. This will put you to the south of the area locally known as Labadora. (in the local language this refers to the old style agitating washing machines). In this area there will be waves coming in from the SE and from the NE bouncing back from the shore making for very interesting and very uncomfortable wave shapes.

If you are going to the East under sail there is a local wind shift that you can use: Around 16.00 the wind will very often shift about 20° towards the North. Between midnight and 04.00 it will shift back to the ESE, sometimes gradually, sometimes within 15 minutes. Local sailors will short tack up the coast and try to be just past the refinery (by Indiaanskop or Indians head) at 16.00. Make one long tack to the SE, and come about when they think they will make it East of Bullenbaai in Curacao. Tacking up and down in the area between Aruba and the peninsula of Paraguana will cause the current to set you down a lot. Once you have Cabo San Roman past the beam the waves will settle down to a regular pattern and you can make your easting.

Even powering to the east it wouldn’t hurt to set a course of 130 or 140 for the first thirty miles or so from the East point of Aruba, taking the waves on the port forward quarter instead of slamming straight into them. Then change the course when the waves settle down as you get under the lee of Curacao.

Aruba has barrier reefs coming up above water on the leeward coast. On the SW coast the water will remain deep up to the reefs, except for Rodgers beach where the bottom will slope up gradually toward the mostly submerged reefs. (Another reason to stay two miles South of East point).

The West coast in front of the hotels has many shoals and we advise to navigate here only during the day when you can eyeball the shoals. If you do sail around these waters at night stay in water deeper than 20 ft. and you will be outside of the shoals areas.

On Aruba

Bucuti channel:

Yachts can easily travel inside the reef from Oranjestad Harbor to Varadero Caribe and Barcadera harbor through the Bucuti Channel.

Surfside anchorage by the Airport

Surfside anchorage by the Airport

Description and waypoints from West to East (in italics is optional):

Exit the harbor channel and go to – 12°30’.510N 70°02’.045W

Next: end of ‘Bucuti island’ – 12°30’.390N 70°01’.919W

Then pass outside or inside the first two landing lights of the airport

Next ‘Habri’ – 12°30’.165N 70°01’.756W

Next: only if over 7ft deep – 12°30’.096N 70°01’.677W

Entry to Varadero Caribe channel – 12°29’.577N 70°01’.133W

Next: Mangrove – 12°29’.475N 70°00’.998W

Barcadera Harbor: – 12°28’.923N 70°00’.259W

TIDES

On a daily basis about a foot; a foot and a half at spring tide. There is also a year cycle with low water December to March High water June to September. Total range is about 2-1/2 ft

COAST GUARD AND SEARCH & RESCUE

Aruba is patrolled by the Coast Guard of the Netherlands. They have tracking radars on all three of the ABC islands and stand by on channel 16. The Coast Guard patrols the Aruban waters with a large patrol vessel at sea and with Rhibs close to shore. Their main purpose is to patrol the island waters to prevent smuggling of drugs and people. You will see their vessels on a daily basis when in Aruban waters. The coastguard will coordinate rescues with the CITRO in Curacao and the SARFA in Aruba, both of these are volunteer rescue organizations that are dependent on donations to finance their operations.

Local vessels that have problems closer to shore will often call Aruba Port Control on channel 16 for assistance.