Pirates worldwide threat
I had no idea when I decided to sail around the world how widespread piracy is. Before departure and while sailing I did some research on the topic and found out that there are vast areas which are no go areas for us and we stay well clear of them. Moreover, the worldwide piracy issue seems to get more problematic. Only yesterday I threw away a cruising guide to Venezuela. Several yachts where attacked there and a Dutch sailor was killed there (among others). This week some insight into the world of piracy.
Pirate attacks Somalia decreased
A big misconception is that piracy is only prevalent around Somalia. Since the nineties piracy is globally increasing. Somalian pirates used to be big players but the attacks have reduced as a direct result of the international marine mission. The international maritime organization (IMO) reported that pirate attacks in 2013 in Somalia had decreased to 20 ships, a mere 20% of the 2007 level. With these numbers the piracy problem in the African gulf of Guinea by now is bigger.
One ship per day, victim of pirates
The number of African pirate attacks is small compared to the global figures. The IMO reported the last 10 years every year in between 250 and 550 ships; about one ship a day. The last three year though the numbers dropped almost 50% because of the marine mission around East Africa and the Indian Ocean. Nonetheless I see little reason for optimism because in other areas attacks are increasing. And what happens when the marine vessels return home?
As world sailor you are close to the action and as such I see another problem. One ship a day is a lot in itself but the actual numbers are in fact higher. In 2013 I interview a couple which got attacked off Venezuela by pirates. And in that same year a Dutch sailor lost his life. Nonetheless these figures did not make it to the official IMO figures and I see this happen more often. Many sailors which lost their lives where not reported to the IMO so they do not count in the global figures. So the reality is worse than the figures suggest.
Weapons can get you into trouble
In response to pirate threat, there are sailors which arm themselves with shotguns, rifles and pistols, to name a few. Some of these sailors are willing and able to use those weapons and I spoke some in fact (caliber ex special forces) which killed pirates. The downside of this is that some sailors may be willing but not necessarily able. A couple I spoke had their shotgun taken away. A pirate aimed it at the chest of the captain and pulled the trigger. Fortunately the weapon was not loaded which saved the captains life.
Prevention is our solution
On board of Hope we are armed with a pocket knife and some formidable pots and pans so we prefer to avoid the problem altogether. That means that we do good research into the destinations where we sail to and sometimes have to ignore beautiful places. Unfortunately that is also the case in Panama which has a reputation of attacks in the anchorages. Although we love to anchor we decided to book the marina for this time for security reasons. We told them 10th of February. That gives us another 2,5 week until we set sail for the 1400 Miles to Panama.
In March Joshua gives guest lectures in the Netherlands. Click here for more information.
Hope sails with Carl Stahl Yachting rigging
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