Friday, October 18, 2013

Piracy warning

As Pirates Attack a Super Tanker in the Indian Ocean, Naval Forces and Sailing Groups Warn Yachts to Avoid High Risk Areas

A British based group of naval and cruising organizations formed a working group called EUNAVFOR Somalia to tackle piracy and its threat to yachts transiting dangerous waters. Today, the group has issued a new warning against yachts going there.  You can read the text and view the evidence supporting the position here

The Ocean Cruising Club, one of the organizations involved and of which I am a member, is developing additional resources based on the collective experience of our members.  Check here for updates regularly. 

The problem is that the pirates have been successful and are far better equipped today, and perhaps more bold or more desperate.  Whereas theft was once the objective, today it's ransom and the captors do not treat their captives respectfully.  The Chandlers released about two years ago are pretty honest in their account of captivity.  And they are the lucky ones. Four crew on the vessel Quest were murdered as was Ken on Chill.  The Danish family of 5 plus crew of ING were captured by Somali pirates. They were released more than six months later, their children terrorized and having lost that portion of their young lives. 

Of course crime can happen anywhere, but there are some places that are known hot spots and should be avoided. And it's not only the Indian Ocean that presents a risk. Four Norwegian men in Trinidad were beaten and robbed and the women aboard raped. A Frenchman in Panama was murdered and his boat stolen. Last week, a man and woman were boarded and attacked in Union Island in the St. Vincent Grenadines, her faced was slashed with a machete. A boat in Venezuela was boarded, the crew tied up and robbed then covered with a sheet. They thought they would be executed but they survived. 

In fact insurers are refusing cover in certain places, so you may want to double check before sailing off. More and more cruisers are transporting their vessels by ship rather than risk pirate encounters. It's too bad that the world is what it is. Denying it may cost you your life.

Fortunately there are still plenty of places where we can sail without fear of piracy. It pays to be aware of where those are. 

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