Be Careful in Luperon, Dominican Republic


(DATE: 2013-02-20) A cruiser at anchor in Luperon reports that as many as twelve boats have been burgled throughout 2012, culminating in a major incident involving the complete loss by fire of a power boat valued at $250,000 (incident listed on the GREATER ANTILLES page). Most of these boats have been left unattended. The police, Navy, port captain, and the government and newspapers have now been contacted, and two arrests have been made, with authorities looking for a third.

Anyone visiting Luperon should exercise extreme caution and check with other boats in the harbor and ex-patriots living on shore as to the current situation.

Late Report from Bequia

(DATE: 2013-02-14) The SOUTHERN WINDWARDS page includes a report from Bequia occurring in late December. The yacht involved noted that a second incident happened the same night to a neighboring boat, and at least two other boardings during the same time frame.

Since those incidents, the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has stationed a coast guard patrol boat in Admiralty Bay and no further incidents have been reported.

Outboards Targeted at Puerto Del Rey Marina

(DATE: 2013-02-03) The GREATER ANTILLES page includes the report of an outboard stolen from a secure service area within Puerto Del Rey Marina in Puerto Rico.  Two days later a second outboard was stolen from a yacht in a slip in the marina. These appear to be connected to the two outboards stolen from other vessels in the boatyard in January.  All outboards are 2 stroke 15 hp Yamahas. Marina security has been involved and has promised to strengthen their efforts, although it appears that the perpetrator has inside knowledge of marina security procedures.

Scam in Cartagena, Colombia

(DATE: 2013-01-15) This report from a cruiser currently in Cartagena:
Sad to say but crime has reached us boaters here in Cartagena. There is a marine agent and a Customs officer that are extorting foreign vessels with a false tourist visa scheme. The agent will take your boat papers and wait until there are only 2 days (from 7) left on the time to apply for a temporary importation that all foreign vessels must do if they plan to stay in Colombian waters for more than a few days. At that time they (the agent and the Customs guy) tell the captain that they cannot do the temporary importation because the Captain needs to have a tourist visa for 180 days (which is not doable as immigration will only give tourists 90 days at a time if they come by air or sea) or the boat must leave Colombia. (It takes over a week to get any visa from the Colombian Foreign Ministry. The 180 day tourist visa is available from Colombian embassies and consulates OUTSIDE Colombia).

They put all kinds of pressure and tell the captain that the agent will see if he can get the Customs guy to help them out and that they have a lawyer who can get them a tourist visa right away for 1 million Colombia pesos. Then the agent will tell the captain to sleep on it. The next morning they call and tell the captain that the Customs guy will do the importation for the 1 million pesos that it would cost to get a tourist visa. They tried this on me and when I showed than that I have a retiree visa good for one year and have had two temporary importations done in the past two years they backed off.

The fact is that there is no need to avoid coming here because of this, as there are three marine agents that operate in Cartagena. The two who are okay are a German named Manfred and Gladys Ramos. All a visitor has to do is ask at the Club Nautico or Club De Pesca office for the phone number for either one of them.

Email Splatter

A few of the many boats using radio email are creating a problem, which affects not only other boaters but also all users of the HF radio spectrum: governments, military forces, and many other groups in the countries that we visit. We can easily fix this problem, and we should fix it before someone else does it for us.

The problem is radio splatter. On an SSB radio it sounds a lot like a Pactor email signal, but it can be heard on all frequencies up and down the HF spectrum. Most of us have heard this in crowded harbors. It is so common that HF nets ask boaters to refrain from using email during net operations. This helps the nets but does nothing for other HF users.

Splatter is NOT inherent in radio email. Most boats using radio email do not create splatter. Some email shore stations operate multiple radios simultaneously in the same room with no splatter. The cause of splatter is over-driving the radio by setting the modem drive level too high or using the radio’s speech processor during email transmissions. Splatter can occur with other modulation types as well, but email splatter is particularly annoying and easy to recognize.

If you use radio email, you can do two simple things to prevent splatter:
–         Set the modem drive level so that the radio produces no more than half its rated power during email transmissions
–         Always turn off your speech processor before using email.

Half of the rated power is ample for email, which requires much less power than voice.  For instance, setting the drive for 25 watts out during email, which is one-sixth of the normal (150 watts) rated power for marine SSBs, will rarely cause a failure to connect to a shore station at any time of the day or night. The Airmail software provides a simple on-screen setting for drive level. If you need help setting the drive level, ask another email user or a radio ham. This setting does not affect the radio’s power output using voice.

If you use radio email, you have an obligation to the other users who share the HF radio spectrum to prevent splatter. You also have a legal obligation. Your ship’s radio station license only authorizes you to transmit on the marine channels. Splatter occurs outside the marine bands, and it can easily be traced from the call signs embedded in email transmissions. Fixing the splatter takes much less time than responding to a citation.

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