My last post focused on warning would-be cruisers about a rarely talked about hazard: pirates. According to some estimates, the number of yachts attacked by pirates around the world since 1996 approaches 200 â€“ and while not a huge percentage of all cruisers, an average of 20 per year is significant. Piracy is on the rise around the world, particularly near Trinidad and Venezuela, and well-known danger spots like the Gulf of Aden and parts of Indonesia remain treacherous. For this reason, it’s important know how to keep safe in these areas.
As I mentioned in my previous post, your best weapon against pirates is your awareness. Know about any pirate activity in an area before you enter it, and realize the situation can change very quickly for the better or worse. Venezuela, for example, was a pirate-free county just 10 years ago, but is now extremely dangerous along much of it’s eastern coast. Pay particular care to anchorages â€“ many pirate attacks happen when the victim is moored for the night. In pirate-infested waters (particularly around the coasts of Somalia and Yemen), it’s best to stay 50 miles from the coast, as most pirates are in small, speedy boats that they use to chase down slower yachts.
Another important anti-piracy measure to take is to travel in convoys. While some might wonder if this just presents pirates with multiple targets, there is strong anecdotal evidence that suggests pirates are often scared off when a convoy closes ranks.
If you are boarded by pirates, the same advice goes as for any other robbery-situation: do what they say and cooperate as best you can. In most areas of the world, the pirates are not interesting in killing or kidnapping (unfortunately, this is not true around Yemen or Somalia). Be aware, however, that often, officials (in South American and African nations in particular) are often unable or uninterested in helping sailors recover stolen property.
Depending on what part of the world you’re cruising in, pirate attacks are not rare. Of particular worry to Floridian cruisers is the fact that the coast of South America has become so dangerous in recent years, as many sailors from Florida cruise around this area. Keep alert, and happy sailing.