Passage Precautions

A compilation of precautions from multiple CSSN sources
In view of the December 2009 robbery and assault of a yacht en-route from Trinidad to Grenada and the 2015-12-19 12:00  Grenada-Trinidad passage Trinidad Hibiscus Gas Platform, Robbery and Boarding; and 7 days later the robbery and boarding of another yacht,  and most recently an attempted piracy event on 25 June 2016. in the same area (details of which are included in the Southern Windwards section of ISLAND REPORTS) : PLUS the various reports of similar incidents in the same area and in Venezuelan waters over the past several years – there are some very specific precautions which cruisers can take to avoid or minimize attempts against them.
VEN Pen 3
Typical open fishing boat sometimes used by bandits
The Trinidad Coast Guard advises that pirogues are active from the south coast of Grenada and moving out to the north and east of Tobago to move marijuana to Toco at the northeast corner of Trinidad. The pirogues are active around the gas drilling rigs as these are used as landmarks for boats without navigation equipment. However, the pirogues range all over the area, from the north coast of Venezuela to Tobago and to the south coast of Grenada.Efforts to interdict drugs are underway in this area and cruisers should be aware of the potential for running into smugglers and / or authorities who may mistake their innocent activities for something criminal. The area off the northeast coast of Trinidad is patrolled for fisheries protection and drug interdiction activities. These patrol vessels are often unmarked and the crew may not be in uniform, so it is difficult for the cruiser to determine their intentions.BG Group Data book 2014 - Where we work - Trinidad & TobagoPlease bear in mind that there have been two very recent incidents and one in 2009 reported on the Trinidad/Grenada route, as well as five additional reports of attempts (unsuccessful). In view of the large numbers of yachts that make this passage each year, the chances of a piracy attempt  is  statistically small (but increasing recently), however, those who do sail this route should take every possible precaution. There are two gas drilling platforms in the area: Hibiscus at 11-08.8N 61.39.0W and Poinsettia at 11-13.9N 61-31.4W. Both monitor VHF 16 and have, in the past relayed calls to the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard.These tips are taken from notes from cruisers and from the precautions page on this website and in some cases, the suggestions are in contradiction with each other: each vessel should make individual choices.
  1. The Grenada Coast Guard and the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard have discussed between themselves what support they can offer and have suggested that each yacht making this passage file a float plan. (they need to know boat name, number of persons on board, brief description (monohull/catamaran, color, size), estimated departure date & time, estimated arrival date & time. The departure Coast Guard will alert their counterparts at your destination so they know to expect you.) Here is a float plan template provided by YSATT that can be downloaded, completed and then emailed to TTCG at:
  2. Always remember, neither your yacht nor your possessions are worth serious injuries or worse. But you must consider that anyone willing to randomly fire at your vessel may not leave you unharmed if they are allowed to board. You must consider how and whether, and be prepared, to provide resistance to boarders as you determine to be appropriate.
  3. VEN Pen
    Typical open fishing boat sometimes used by bandits
  4. If your yacht is approached by a suspicious vessel, immediately activate DSC on your VHF and begin transmitting on VHF 16. (Trinidad/Tobago Coast Guard no longer lists channel 23 as distress contact channel)
  5. Preprogram your HF radio with the distress frequencies monitored by USCG and other authorities. As of August 1, 2013 the distress voice frequencies are 4125, 6215, 8291, or 12290 kHz voice.  (Trinidad Tobago Coast Guard or North Post Radio (Trinidad 9YL) maintains a continuous listening watch on 2182 khz and VHF 16 for distress calls –(CSSN Verified February 2016) North Post Radio Phone 001(868) 637 9023 (CSSN Verified January 2016) *   Indicate that you feel you are in danger. Call out your yacht name and your location repeatedly until you get a response. If you are traveling in a group, one of those yachts will hear you, and if you are traveling alone, it is possible that another vessel in the area will hear you and come to assist. If you have DSC activated, that signal will extend a great distance.
Typical Large fishing boat sometimes used by bandits
Typical Large fishing boat sometimes used by bandits
Remember, CSSN partners with SSCA Radio Station “KPK” “Kilo Papa Kilo” on SSB 8104 at 12:15 UTC daily. Shore based resources and emergency communication relays/contacts are available as are other resources. While it is unlikely you will experience an incident while KPK is actually on the air, KPK can be helpful in the aftermath of an incident or to engage SAR or other assistance.Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard (TTCG):

Telephone: 1-800-TTCG  |  Alternate: 1-868-634-2727  |  Fax 1-868-634-4944 

TTCG Patrol Vessel
TTCG Patrol Vessel
The TTCG is responsible for co-ordinating Search and Rescue operations. Vessels in distress should call or radio either the Coast Guard or North Post Radio (Trinidad 9YL) for assistance. North Post radio maintains a continuous listening watch on 2182 kHz and VHF 16 for distress calls. – – ANM 38/09 * Phone 001(868) 637 9023 (CSSN Verified January 2016)Grenada Coast Guard

Telephone: 1 473 444 1931  |  FAX 1 473 444 2839

Grenada CG Patrol Vessel
Grenada CG Patrol Vessel

The Grenada Coast Guard is responsible for the coordination of Search and Rescue operations. MRSC Grenada is also the National Emergency Relief Organisation whose duties include the control of communications for any local major disaster.

** Source:

Other Tips:

    1. KNOW BEFORE YOU GO : Check the Caribbean Safety and Security Net website regularly, both for additional security tips as well as reports of piracy or attempted piracy against other yachts, and learn lessons from how others have handled a piracy situation.
    2. Store an electronic copy of all important materials where it can be accessed if your computer is stolen : your passports and boat documents, the contents of all wallets: credit cards (both sides), licenses, etc. and your up to date equipment list with serial numbers.
    3. Separate and hide valuables in multiple unpredictable areas on board, including passports and boat papers. If possible, hide a spare GPS and handheld VHF radio as well as a smart phone, tablet or laptop with all your contacts and other important information in them. Have a “sacrificial stash” to surrender.
    4. Don’t discuss your departure plans (time and destination) with strangers on shore. Don’t describe your yacht to strangers: current location, name, number of people on board, whether or not you are armed.
    5. Sail as far east of the rhumb line as possible, away from the locations of the previous reports, although that route means there are fewer other vessels to come to your aid if you need help.
    6. Since all the reports of boardings and attempted boardings have occurred during the day, travel at night. Some have suggested that you travel with no lights; however, that has its own inherent dangers. Your RADAR is of little use to detect these pirogues as they are usually wooden boats and will not show up on RADAR.
    7. Consider traveling in a group, maintaining VHF or SSB contact on a regular schedule throughout the trip. Use a VHF channel other than 16 for group check-ins, but monitor both that channel and channel 16.
    8. Think about a response plan before it is needed, with the emphasis on scaring away intruders (and this is certainly appropriate for yachts at anchor as well as those underway). THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PREPARATION A CRUISER CAN MAKE. Think about evasive maneuvers, first aid kit for possible injuries, response to fire aboard (e.g. gas cans hit by gunfire), where is the crew to shelter, can / should any further resistance to boarding be made (flare guns, sprays, etc.), how to initiate a distress call, use of lights and flares, and communication with other vessels and/or law enforcement authorities.

    Report Incident to Caribbean Safety and Security Net If something happens to you or your vessel make a report to the authorities and… MAKE A REPORT TO CSSN TO HELP OTHER CRUISERS WHO WILL FOLLOW. Report in English, Spanish, French, German, Dutch, Swedish – More coming later.

    The Caribbean Safety and Security Net welcomes additional suggestions: e-mail to or use the CONTACT US page.
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