CSSN would like to thank the Caribbean Compass where the following article was published in their December 2017 issue (P. 41). Visit http://caribbeancompass.com/ to access the current and full archive of Compass issues.
WHAT’S ON MY MIND…
Security – Everyone’s Concern, Everyone’s Responsibility
by Kim White
Bad Things Do Happen
Crimes against yachts continue to occur in the Caribbean, including (at the time of submission of this article for publication) a violent boarding/assault in St. Lucia and piracy off Honduras. These frightening incidents have brought security issues to the front of most cruiser’s minds. When such events occur, we all want to know exactly what happened, and how, when, where and why it happened, all the while hoping that we can prevent the same from happening to us. (If you are not yet familiar with these recent incidents, visit the Caribbean Safety and Security Net website www.safetyandsecuritynet.org to review what is known about each of them.) Getting timely, accurate information about incidents is the critical first step in the process, and makes it possible to assess and evaluate (and perhaps change) our own behavior and preparedness.
You Can Manage Risk
Utilize the resources on the Caribbean Safety and Security Net (CSSN) website and from other sources to develop your own security plan. One size does not fit all: we each have our own risk tolerance and individual yacht and crew capabilities. Make good security a habit. Be prepared — have a plan for every location you choose to visit, and ensure all crew (including guests) understand what that plan is. Start by understanding what has happened to others. Then formulate your own plan, and stay current by subscribing to “Alerts!” on CSSN or following CSSN on social media. And, if you are a victim of a yacht-related crime, make a first-hand report, and encourage others to do so as well.
CSSN Just Keeps Getting Better
In an effort to increase awareness and understanding of crime against yachts in the Caribbean, the volunteers at CSSN have gathered, recorded and disseminated relevant information for over 20 years. Technology has changed how this is accomplished, and in mid-2017 CSSN launched its new website, www.safetyandsecuritynet.org, improving every aspect of the user experience and making the resource-rich website even easier to access in a variety of ways. The site is device friendly, and has multi-language capability. From the homepage it is easy to:
- Make online incident reports — it’s easy, menu-driven, and collects all the right information in a complete and systematic way
- Subscribe to “Alerts!” — the info you need, delivered to your inbox, on whatever schedule you desire (there is even a low bandwidth option for those with slow or expensive internet)
- Review “HotSpots!” — a helpful visual info graphic (by year); you can drill down on the tabs for specifics
- Use the enhanced “sort” box or tabs to select information of interest by country, island or anchorage, event type or timeframe
- Access recent reports, reports by island, or the full sortable database of more than ten years’ worth of information.
- Review precautions and passage checklists, developed with input from cruisers — those who have been there, and done that.
- Review the CSSN website FAQ — a quick way to get answers to the most commonly asked questions
All we ask is that you credit CSSN as a source when you republish information or utilize data from our site.
Report, Report, Report!
CSSN volunteers work hard to help all cruisers, from crusty old salts who have visited every island and every anchorage, to those new to the region, even short-timers on charter. We provide the factual base from which cruisers can make well-informed decisions and choices. We can’t do it by ourselves; there is a shared responsibility within the cruising community, and everyone must help by means of incident reporting. If everyone accepts the personal responsibility for reporting crimes against yachts in the Caribbean to CSSN, accurate and timely information will be gathered, vetted, shared widely and retained. CSSN maintains strict confidentiality and your privacy. The names (boats and people, or any other identifying detail) of those involved or reporting incidents are never disclosed, to anyone, ever.
There are several ways to “report”. First, and importantly, make reports to local officials, and perhaps to your Consulate. Ask for a copy of the report (some Caribbean countries charge a fee for this), and get contact information for follow-up. While some local officials may not make much of a meaningful response, if you don’t make a report to them the incident in effect “officially never happened”. Resources are deployed elsewhere if the problem is not “officially” known, and the local situation deteriorates further.
Victims can complain and gossip at Happy Hour or on the VHF; it feels good, but does it make a difference and have a lasting impact? Maybe, but probably not. You can post it to your blog, or on Facebook, and reach that audience immediately, but likely not in an enduring or lasting way, and not accessible or known to those planning to visit or new to the region.
For a more lasting impact, you can do the following:
- Submit a first-person report to CSSN’s information sharing partner Noonsite, www.noonsite.com, for inclusion in their piracy or relevant country page, which have a worldwide audience, is archived, and where first-person narratives often contain valuable insights and lessons learned.
- Make a voice report to CSSN’s partner, the Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA) sponsored daily “KPK” HF voice net (8104 KHz USB at 0815 AST), and it will be relayed to CSSN.
- Write an article for Compass; it will be widely read in the Caribbean. [Compass Editor’s note: Just as shoreside newspapers don’t report every stolen car or residential burglary, we don’t routinely cover missing dinghies or the theft of items from individual yachts. We do, however, publish news of especially worrisome or unusual crimes against yachts, and welcome first-hand reports.]
- But to reach the broadest audience, and preserve the knowledge and learning, submit reports to CSSN. It is the ONLY comprehensive, archived, centralized information source, updated continuously, easily searched and it’s accessible to all.
Know Before You Go!
So, what should you be doing?
Unfortunately bad things can happen anywhere, but you can substantially mitigate your exposure and risk by staying prepared and well informed. Use the available resources — read Compass, review Noonsite, and most important, utilize the CSSN website resources (Alerts!, HotSpots!, News, Incidents Database and Precautions Checklists) to “Know Before You Go!” When you arrive at a new anchorage, ask on the VHF if there have been any recent incidents, and if you are a Facebook user, ask if there is a local or relevant Facebook group. Use all the resources available, being careful to understand the purpose and limitations of each.
Decide proactively with your crew how you will manage risk — develop good security habits, limit your exposure to crime by avoiding certain areas or anchorages, take special precautions against location-specific risks, and understand dynamically the nature of crimes against yachts where you are or wherever you are planning to visit in the Caribbean region. Discuss security with all crew and have a well-considered and understood plan in the event of trouble.
Do your part for the larger cruising community – if you are a victim, make a report. Report it to the authorities (local and perhaps consular), report it on your local VHF net, post publicly on Facebook, etc. but please:
- Always report to CSSN. CSSN acts as a central information feed to all the sites mentioned above. Information is willingly shared with all.
- Bookmark the CSSN website, and review the resources there.
- Subscribe to free Alerts! or follow CSSN on social media.
- Raise awareness — tell a friend (or two or three) about CSSN.
- Prepare — develop, communicate and execute your own security plan.
If you hear an incident reported on a local VHF net ask if, and specifically where, it has been reported. Support and encourage the victims and remind them of the value and importance of their experience to other cruisers. A few minutes of your time can be of great benefit to many other cruisers. It’s important. It’s our community; let’s all do our part to make it safer while we enjoy our cruising lifestyle. CSSN Incident Reports, especially those provided firsthand, will make the way safer for all those who follow in our wakes.Follow Us Share