Yachters fight back against real-life pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates who target vulnerable vessels have plagued the oceans for centuries but violence and piracy against yachts cruising the Caribbean is on the rise. [ Safety Tips ] 

The region's yachting fraternity is fighting back, using social media and online forums to unite, to warn fellow mariners of incidents and danger hotspots, and to raise money to get victims back on the water.

After a couple were held at gunpoint and assaulted, and had their yacht damaged, in Grenada on 30 July, the Caribbean cruising community raised several thousand dollars within days.

A boom in forums such as maritime Facebook groups means there are more people than ever sharing information and appealing for everything from cash to blood donors.



Yachters fight back against real-life pirates of the Caribbean


The internet has changed cruising habits with wifi availability a "must-have" for many when considering anchorages.

"Land-lubbers think of sailors as being alone on their boats and don't realise what a huge community we are and how many networks we have for dialogue, especially since the advent of things like Facebook," says Pippa Turton, of Antigua-based charter yacht firm Miramar.

"We don't always have that much money but we do like to help each other when needed. There have been incidents where someone has been seriously ill and everyone has gone and given blood or clubbed together to send someone to the US for medical treatment."

Crime figures compiled by the Caribbean Safety and Security Net (CSSN) indicate a three-fold surge on assaults against cruisers in 2015 compared to 2014, while last year also saw four incidents of piracy compared to none for the previous year.


Yachters fight back against real-life pirates of the Caribbean


CSSN tips for onboard safety


  • Know before you go. Visit safetyandsecuritynet.com and subscribe to "alerts" to keep abreast with recent incidents in the area you plan to visit
  • Store electronic copies of passports, boat documents, credit cards, licences and equipment serial numbers where they can be accessed if your computer is stolen
  • Hide valuables in multiple unpredictable places. Have a "sacrificial stash" to surrender
  • Do not discuss departure plans with strangers on shore, or describe your yacht or its location to them
  • Consider travelling in a group, maintaining VHF or SSB radio contact on a regular schedule
  • Make a response plan including evasive manoeuvres, first aid kit, extinguishing fire, initiating a distress call, use of lights and flares, and communication with other vessels and local authorities


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Source : BBC UK