Thankfully, relatively few violent and serious incidents were experienced by yachts in the Caribbean basin and reported to CSSN in 2018. Although it is not yet midyear, 2019 is looking quite different and more typical. Year-to-date Panama has had 2 armed boardings plus 1 attempted, with injuries to crew and the most recent case resulted in the tragic death of the captain. While Panamanian police were quick to arrest and charge 3 individuals in the latest case, little confirmed information about what occurred has been made public, and no arrests were made in the 2 earlier cases. Yachts transiting Nicaragua and the Trinidad/Grenada passage have also experienced serious piracy/piracy attempts.
Each of these low probability but high impact events left many wondering what could be done to prevent them, or avoid/minimize the risk of a repeat, or simply achieve a better outcome. The short answer – have a well thought out and agreed to plan that everyone on board understands and is prepared to implement. Being prepared and early warning and communications are key, and all benefit from a fact based understanding of what has happened in the past. Utilize CSSN resources to first understand the specifics that are known about previous events, and consider then how to apply your own risk profile, tolerance and crew/yacht capabilities.
CSSN has compiled Precautions lists from many experienced cruisers, often victims themselves. These resources are organized into 3 major groups: General Precautions, for use everywhere at anchor or ashore, Piracy Precautions specific to Central America (2 different types), and Piracy Precautions specific to the Trinidad/Grenada passage. Much of the information presented in each of these piracy protocols can be applied anywhere. All have been recently updated with important new information.
The updates for the Trinidad/Grenada passage reflect the leadership and teamwork between stakeholders and officials in Trinidad who stepped up immediately to the recent problem there and have put escorted convoys in place to manage and mitigate risk for this relatively short passage. Links and Information about this new and valuable process are included in our update.
For remote or offshore areas, hard decisions must be made about routing and about response – acceptance of risk/loss of possessions made, and/or hardened security including impenetrable cabins. No plan is perfect, but every captain/crew should carefully consider a range of possible responses. The best predictor of a best possible outcome is having a well thought out, agreed upon, and then executed plan among the entire crew. CSSN’s suite of Precaution resources are provided as a tool for use by the community.
As always, we welcome your feedback. With your input CSSN informs, captains decide. Know Before You Go !