Buying in Venezuela or N. Brazil?
Jeff,a couple of follow-on thoughts...
1. You''re geographical ''range'' for boat shopping could easily run from the Virgins down to Trinidad, as the Rio Macarero and the river systems S of it in S America are all within ''reach'' (literally & figuratively) from there. The 4-sale inventory in some of those islands can be quite large (e.g. St. Thomas, St. Martin, Antigua) and, once you narrow the search to ''your'' size, budget, etc. the broader inventory will most likely be quite helpful to you. You don''t sound like a candidate for the (almost always) bigger charter boats that come into the market.
2. Were I you, I''d start on the Web by seeing what (brokerage) advertising I could access in the two Caribbean-wide distributed monthly periodicals: All At Sea and Caribbean Compass. I notice there are a few brokers who also participate in Yachtworld.com tho'' they will tend to have the higher priced inventory. We talked with several owners who had found their boat in this fashion, either when in the islands or from back home, and a thorough, patient search was a key ingredient. Unlike the States, brokers will tend to represent the decrepit, small and/or old boats along with the shiny ones as they''ve found there are buyers for all kinds. Shopping broadly will also dispel somewhat the tendency to want one particular boat intensely, despite price or feature issues, because it otherwise is the only boat that you believe will work for you.
3. When folks buy in the Caribbean, they tend to think about the boat and forget about the prep that follows. E.g. taxes (what nationality is the boat? how long there?), pricing yards, verifying good chandelry support nearby, having an established shipping link from the States, the island nation being easy to work with re: import duty exemptions, etc. E.g. there are now 2 good chandelry chains in the islands (Budget Marine and Island Marine [or World] - that 2nd name may be a bit off) but they are only in a few islands. If you are American, getting things shipped down to St. Thomas is straightforward, chandelries abound, and the expenses don''t include duty. In St. Martin, there''s huge Simpson Lagoon where many owners bring their boats to be sold, and where the French are blase'' about most regs and both brokers and chandelries are located on the Dutch side. I''m not recommending either location specifically, just trying to show why those two locations tend to be favorites for all kinds of boating activity, including selling brokered and privately represented boats. The tough nut to crack is to find the right boat already in one of the ''right'' locations, so the haul, upgrades, repairs and such won''t take terribly long or be horribly expensive. OR you buy a boat you can safely move up or down the chain to one of the ''right'' places.
Given the above issues, that''s how Chaguaramas became so popular in the 90''s with the cruising crowd: infrastructure appeared, lots of talent moved down there to work in or start up niche support businesses (electronics, shipping, systems installs, etc.), the govt. is easy to work with re: importing and immigration, etc. The bad rap now is that overall costs there are comparable to the less expensive parts of the U.S....but what is omitted in that gripe is that the infrastructure is probably better and labor cheaper.
Good luck on the search. And don''t overlook some other relevant web sites such as www.ssca.org and their Flea Market section, where boats are advertised by cruisers. You might find it profitable to benefit by the coconut grapevine a bit, as well.