DATE: 2017-04-13 08:00 Country Name: Honduras Location Detail: Puerte Cortes Naval Base Yard EVENT: Piracy HAND: 1 Stolen Items: VHF, SSB. EPIRB, flares, outboard engine, binoculars, smartphones, tools,security items, clothing, suitcases, toiletries and many more small items SECURED: Not Locked DETAILS: A sailing vessel departed the Rio Dulce, Guatemala intending to visit Utila, Honduras. They were motor sailing in light winds and at 8:00 AM, they were about 10 miles off the coast and were boarded by pirates. 4 men boarded (2 armed with handguns) and 1 remained in the open fishing boat.
The pirates were very aggressive, and fired their guns several times very close to the heads of the crew to ensure compliance. The crew spoke French and pretended not to “understand” while the boat was ransacked for about 1 hour.
The pirates took everything they could, while taking no precautions to conceal their identities. Once satisfied with their haul they departed in the direction of the Honduran coast.
There were no injuries to the crew. The yacht was able to make radio contact with the Puerto Cortes naval base and routed there to make reports to the Coast Guard, Police and Port Captain.
The Caribbean Safety and Security Net (CSSN) has received a firsthand report from the second yacht boarded by pirates near Gorda Cay on 1/19/2017. Review the complete and fully updated report HERE.
There have been 3 reports of piracy off Honduras in the last week, two (includes the one above) in the Gorda Bank area, and one off the north coast near Puerto Cortes. A 4th incidence of piracy occurred in the disputed waters near Media Luna Cays in late December, 2016.
CSSN advises a high level of caution and careful planning if you are traveling in any of these areas, near shore and offshore Honduras or Nicaragua.
Review each of the 3 previous recent firsthand reports here:
Some circumstances, while not likely the pirates themselves, are common in these reports. Weapons ranged from steel bars and knives to automatic weapons. Locations varied from relatively near shore to well offshore. The number of pirates varied from 8-30, in single or multiple approaches involving from 1 to 4 pangas. Crews complied with most instructions from the leaders of these groups, and attempted to limit the number of pirates allowed below, with limited success. None of the yachts stopped, and no serious injuries were reported. Well hidden backup communication and navigation devices proved helpful to some crews.
A well thought out response plan that is discussed beforehand and understood by all members of the crew is essential in these tense and difficult circumstances. It’s easy to subscribe to (free) CSSN ALERTS! or follow us on social media to receive all future CSSN News and Incident Reports. All in the spirit of KNOW BEFORE YOU GO!
DATE: 2017-01-19 Country Name: Honduras Location Detail: Offshore – 20 miles off Gordo Bank EVENT: Piracy Stolen Items: Computers, smartphone, cash, electronics, binocular , vhf and handheld radios, alcohol, clothing SECURED: Locked DETAILS: A French flagged catamaran departed Isla Providencia (Colombia) for Rio Dulce, Guatemala on 1/18/2017 at 8 AM. Travelling well offshore the Nicaraguan coastline, they turned OFF their AIS transmitter but monitored all traffic closely. They noticed only a few cargo or fishing vessels.
At 0830 on the morning of the 19th, after traveling 175 nm, now located 70 nm off the Nicaraguan coast and 35 nm ESE of the Hobbies islands they were approached by a single panga from the north with 6-7 men who asked for water and food. They were provided. At 0900 the same panga returned asking for more, and a pack of cigarettes was given, while suddenly 2 more fishing boats with 40 HP outboards approached at high speed from the south with 6-7 additional men. They converged on the catamaran, rammed and boarded the yacht, now visibly armed with knives and iron bars. Some of the pirates beat the locked doors and gained entry to the cabin while the others scavenged on deck. The leaders seemed to be looking for drugs, but found none. The pirates took computers, a smartphone, cash, assorted electronics, binoculars, VHF and handheld radios, alcohol, clothing, anything that they could grab or remove. After about an hour they departed.
Using a previously hidden VHF the crew made contact with a nearby merchant cargo ship which then contacted the Colombian navy and piracy agency while diverting in their direction. At 1030 AM a single panga returned with a mixed group of 8 of the youngest of the original pirates and again boarded, holding knives to the throats of the crew, this time attempting to sever the lock to the yacht dinghy/outboard. They were not successful and became nervous when they heard a VHF transmission from the approaching cargo vessel. The second group of pirates departed. The crew again made radio contact with the cargo vessel who took all necessary information and agreed to inform Colombian officials, the yacht declined further assistance and both vessels returned to their intended courses.
The yacht proceeded to Guanaja, Honduras without further incident. They arrived on Friday January 20, and began the process of filing official reports with the police, port captain, Honduran navy and piracy agencies. Much had been stolen, there was damage to the yacht, but no injuries.
Country Name: Honduras Location Detail: Offshore – 20 miles off Gordo Bank (16N/82W) EVENT: Piracy Stolen Items: iPads, electronics, rum SECURED: Not Locked DETAILS: Preliminary Report 2017-01-19: Chris Parker has provided the following information from a Weather Center subscribing yacht currently transiting from west Panama to the Yucatan. The yacht was boarded late on the 19th off Gordo Bank by pirates who seemed to be looking for drugs. Finding none, they took iPads, small electronics and rum. No injuries. Detail report expected once the yacht reaches its destination.
CSSN UPDATE 2017-01-26: Victims have provided a detailed FIRST HAND REPORT:
A 40 ft. monohull sailing from Panama passed over Gorda Banks at night with their AIS turned off. Passing Gorda Cay, they saw several fair sized fishing boats at the cay. A couple of hours later as they were exiting the banks about 10 miles NW of Gorda Cay, a panga tried to approach but was not able to overtake them, they were sailing quite fast.
The too-slow panga left but the men returned in a larger panga. Seeming friendly, they were fairly young and asked for food. They wouldn’t leave the yacht alone, came close and were thrown a pineapple. They seemed happy and went away. A while later, another panga with several young men caught up with the yacht and asked for liquor. They were persistent but friendly and were tossed a six pack of beer. They also went away seeming happy. Then a third panga with a few men came asking for liquor. They were told they didn’t have any and were tossed a melon. They went away.
Meanwhile the crew had texted friends using their Delorme InReach satellite texting system, alerting them that they were being pursued and didn’t know if these were just desperate fishermen or pirates. At about 12 noon 4 pangas with a total of about 30 men approached and the crew activated the DSC distress signals on the SSB and VHF. Their InReach contact alerted the US Coast Guard in Baltimore, MD, to the changing situation.
The pirates signaled for everyone to put their hands up as they boarded. The lead panga carrying a man they all called “Boss” came alongside, bumping against the hull, and demanded in Spanish that they stop the engine. Faced with overwhelming force, they turned more into the wind and slowed down but pleaded ignorance as to their understanding of Spanish.
Several men boarded the boat. One had a knife that he continuously tapped on top of the chartplotter at the helm. One of the other men spoke some English and told the crew he wanted his men to go below and “inspect” the boat. He was told that only 2 at a time could go down, but several went down anyway. They turned off the SSB and VHF distress signals and ransacked the boat. They opened every cupboard and floorboard presumably looking for drugs. The English speaking pirate reported to “Boss” and when they found no drugs, the pirates down below took whatever they wanted, the most valuable of which included an iPad, a GPS, foul weather gear and shoes. Oddly, they did not ask for money. The “Boss” told them to finish up and the English speaking pirate made the crew shake hands as if this were a normal business transaction. The pirates motored away, and the crew continued sailing onward.
The crew was grateful that they were not harmed. Official reports to authorities will be made after the yacht reaches the US mainland.
DATE: 2017-01-13 Country Name: Honduras Location Detail: Puerto Cortes Naval Base Yard EVENT: Piracy Stolen Items: Hand held electronics, wall mounted TV, RIB dinghy and outboard, cash, alcohol, dive gear, passports SECURED: Not Locked DETAILS: A US flagged sailing yacht with the owner/captain and 1 Canadian crew member aboard departed Puerto Cortez for Roatan. After 10 hours of sailing in strong easterlies and current they had made 13 miles of easting and were 5 miles off the coast.
At sunset they were approached and boarded from the west by a panga with 8 men onboard, with weapons drawn. The two pirates armed with semiautomatic guns immediately took control of the captain, who quickly made it clear he would comply with their wishes. Two men remained in the panga, while the 4 remaining pirates began pilfering the boat, roughing up the female crew member as she retrieved the demanded cash. During the 15 minutes they were ransacking the yacht the pirates took handheld electronics, a wall mounted TV, cash, alcohol, dive gear, and passports, as well as the RIB dinghy/outboard which was launched off the deck. The pirates departed to retrieve the dinghy and the yacht continued onward to Roatan. The captain believes his compliant and non-threatening posture prevented injury or worse.
After a difficult night with limited navigation and communications capability their radio call was answered by a US Navy surveillance aircraft, that then overflew them and arranged for continued airborne escort to Roatan. The US Navy had arranged a warm welcome and official reports were made to the police, port captain and Honduran coast guard. The supporting consulates provided additional assistance with communications and passport replacement.