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Student_Driver

Security at Anchor - Peter Blake Problem

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Assuming that you have a strategy for dealing with a hostile attack on your boat at sea or at anchor, the bigger issue to me is how do you maintain vigilance whilst at anchor. At sea, presumably, there's always someone on deck who can see an approaching hostile vessel. At anchor, owner-operator cruisers presumably do not maintain a watch at night leaving the risk (presumably low) that locals might be tempted to board the vessel unopposed. Once onboard, the owner/skipper will most likely have little time and opportunity to employ defensive (or offensive) counter measures. Given this, it would seem beneficial to have some form of perimeter alert which would wake the crew when a vessel approaches within a certain distance of the anchored cruiser.

 

We are all very aware of the high risk piracy areas around the world but there must be risks whenever one is anchored in a remote location where the local inhabitants are economically disadvantaged (or worse) and there's a valuable soft target anchored a few hundred yards off a beach. In a cruising book I recently read, there was an account of a hostile boarding off Mexico where the wife was raped and the husband brutalized. The husband was able to gain control and subdue (permanently) the attackers. It was their belief that they would have been killed had they not been able to recover control of the situation. The Peter Blake story is one which we've all heard. I am guessing that there are others which have not made the press.

 

When planning a cruise, we tend to think about all of the high and low probability events and plan accordingly. Low probability events with minimally costly outcomes can easily be ignored. Alternatively, low probability outcomes with devastating costs, can't be dismissed as easily. Further, having weapons or other measures to defend one's vessel are not effectual if time to react is limited or unavailable.

 

Having thought about this a bit, I'd wondered whether a perimeter alert on radar would work? My guess is that impoverished locals would commonly use DIY outboards with low or zero radar signature. Am I wrong? A friend who is planning an extended cruise suggested littering the deck with thumbtacks. If we could be assured that all bad players don't wear shoes, then this plan might work.

 

I'd considered some form of alarm which might be tripped when lifeline pressure exceeds a limit (when the system is armed, at night, at anchor). Any unwelcome boarders would have to grab or touch a lifeline or stanchion to board, methinks. It would not give much time for reaction but some time is better than none. Perhaps a few thousand volts running through the lifelines operated remotely by the skipper might be neat, but impractical.

 

Has anyone considered this problem? What solutions have worked or been proposed?

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"Has anyone considered this problem? What solutions have worked or been proposed?"(SD)

 

Check the TV listings, there is something to watch every night of the week. You never need to leave your panic room/home.

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Alternatively, you could fire a (large) cannon at 0800, and 1700 from your vessel, and carry on military "exercises" that are designed to intimidate. Seems to work on the North Koreans. Oh, wait, never mind that.

Perhaps a dual pronged effort, like giving away items useless to the natives, like rum, and candy, and then having a large fireworks display from your yacht just before bed time. You know, win the hearts and minds...

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Or, you could set up a motion detector on the adjacent beach, and get an early warning of potential misdeeds, and...mischief.

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"Has anyone considered this problem? What solutions have worked or been proposed?"(SD)

 

Check the TV listings, there is something to watch every night of the week. You never need to leave your panic room/home.

I admit to having considered this problem.

Sailors often anchor in remote places. Why wouldn't it be prudent to discuss this or have a plan? I try to plan for as many contingencies as possible. I am responsible for the safety of my crew (my spouse).

In case you are wondering, I don't (yet) have a panic room in my home, just sayin......

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Here is a list of items to keep you out of trouble:

1) megayacht

2)Guns

3)Rum

4)Guns

5)Rum

6)Tolerant, friendly, patronizing attitude towards native population*

7)Rum

8)Guns

 

*not necessary if holding enough of nos. 2,3,4,5,7,8.

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"Has anyone considered this problem? What solutions have worked or been proposed?"(SD)

 

Check the TV listings, there is something to watch every night of the week. You never need to leave your panic room/home.

I admit to having considered this problem.

Sailors often anchor in remote places. Why wouldn't it be prudent to discuss this or have a plan? I try to plan for as many contingencies as possible. I am responsible for the safety of my crew (my spouse).

In case you are wondering, I don't (yet) have a panic room in my home, just sayin......

I have always had a bad feeling about the natives around Harbor Springs!

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Anchored off Long Beach a week ago. Economically disadvantaged (or worse) natives didn't attack but I still felt restless all night.

 

A medium size dog would make a good perimeter system.

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I fear those near Mill Creek and Hickory Landing in "The Land Of Pleasant Living". Backwards, shoeless, toothless hillbillies all!

 

:lol:

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I am going from memory, but I think Joshua Slocum sprinkled thumbtacks about his deck when he went to sleep in 'uncertain' anchorages. So this problem has been around for more than 100 years.

 

If someone really wants your 'stuff', I am not sure there is too much you can really do protect yourself. Maybe just let them have it and be done. The really important stuff (your credit cards, passport and cash) can be carefully and well hidden. Avoiding confrontation is probably the safest response.

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You might remember that Peter Blake died only because he pulled a gun to "defend" himself. And many, many countries frown upon you bringing a gun into their space. If you declare it, they take it off you. If you don't declare it, you could go to jail.


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The very plain fact is that those 'economically disadvantaged' folks are almost always the nicest and kindest people you will ever meet. They renew your faith in mankind, which then plummets when you get back and see the greed in the 1st world.

 

We (the cruising community) all know the extremely few places where the thugs are. We either simply avoid them (the world is a huge place and there are tons of extremely attractive places to cruise) or keep a very low profile when there.

 

Peter Blake perfectly well knew that there was a history of problems up the Amazon. And he was up there in a particularly a huge flashy boat, wearing a Rolex watch. And then he pulled a gun which was either poorly maintained or he did not know how to use, or was not willing to actually use. It was just a stupid incident all around, similar to choosing to sail near the coast of Somalia today.

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Student, it's great to see you here again.

 

Have you bought a boat yet?

 

How's your wife doing?

 

I just got my turntable going again, and updated my amplifier and CD player. I thought of you.

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I fear those near Mill Creek and Hickory Landing in "The Land Of Pleasant Living". Backwards, shoeless, toothless hillbillies all!

 

:lol:

Be very afraid. We attack at dawn and start with potato cannons and AC/DC at full volume. Then we break out the chainsaws.

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98% of the solution, IMHO, is not going where attacks are likely. If you have to keep an armed watch all night, you aren't on vacation, you are on a military mission ;)

That said, the other best solution is a dog. My 100 pound Chessie was a whole alarm system and 4-legged WMD rolled into one. You could always string monofilament around after dark so anyone boarding the boat gets tangled in it. Have one end on a switch so it sets off an alarm if pulled on. You could get those dorky "ghost rider" underwater disco lights powerboaters love and maybe the local thieves won't want to be in the pool of bright light.

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KDH, Thanks for checking in. My wife is attending a cognitive rehabilitation program every day. She's still very impaired but we feel fortunate that she survived. A good friend of ours was shot outside his home in New Orleans last fall and is in much worse shape. We feel lucky by comparison. Not going to be able to buy a boat this year. 2014/2015 is my goal. At that time both kids will be in college and it will be easier to take off for a month or two at a time then.

 

Glad to hear that you got your turntable going again. There's a big HiFi show in NY this weekend which I'm eagerly anticipating. If you care to drive down, I'd be happy to invite you to lunch and attend the show together. There will be some rooms with over $250K in equipment and many will have analogue records.

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Appreciate the f/b. FWIW, I grew up on a Caribbean island and moved to the US at age 10. I've also travelled extensively and agree that locals in remote areas can be (and most often are) extremely friendly, open and generous. Having said that, motivation and opportunity are the two cornerstones of crime. Just the same way I avoid walking on unlit and unpopulated streets in NYC, I'd have some awareness of elevated threats whenever I'm isolated.

 

I've been reading many great cruising books and the experiences of the authors have all been positive, yet they generally have some account of an unfortunate incident or several involving other cruising boats. Most of these are non-violent but not all victims escape with their lives (whether or not they are armed). Interestingly, since I started this thread, I've been searching for stories about violent acts of piracy in this hemisphere. Beyond Brazil, I've already found accounts of incidents in Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Colombia, Venezuela etc. And of course the greatest pirates in the world are the marina and ship yard owners in every global port.

 

On another boating web site, there's an interesting conversation about this very topic. Just came across it a few minutes ago. They have a global chart with markers where piracy has been reported. Not many areas without at least a few. And, one commenter did mention his desire to electrically charge this top life line. Funny. There's an even split on whether to pro-actively defend or to submit and hope for the best. A few did mention panic rooms. Another suggested flooding the boat with a gas which would incapacitate and/or deter the pirates. Owner and crew would be in a safe room with protected external ventilation.

 

Again, I'm not advocating taking an active defense nor am I arguing against. I'd simply like a warning in order to take whatever measures I've decided upon and prepared for.

 

I like the dog idea. My 127 pound dog keeps the UPS delivery man at bay. He/she ring the bell and then run down the steps and wait for us to come outside to retrieve the package. Emma (our largest dog) would do nicely indeed. I hope she has or can develop) sea legs.

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http://www.twofishcat.com

 

These are my friends currently planning a circumnavigation on an Antares 45 (to be launched/built this summer). Jason and Gail are the ones who recommended thumbtacks. Am guessing they've read Slocum's book and got the idea there.

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My wife sprinkled thumbtacks on the deck one night in the Philippines.

 

I teased her, but have to admit we were not boarded that night.

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My wife sprinkled thumbtacks on the deck one night in the Philippines.

 

I teased her, but have to admit we were not boarded that night.

 

Only works if the boarders are barefoot.

 

What does work is a few boards with 2" nails sticking up placed in strategic places. Been there - done that - It does work.

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"Has anyone considered this problem? What solutions have worked or been proposed?"(SD)

 

Check the TV listings, there is something to watch every night of the week. You never need to leave your panic room/home.

I admit to having considered this problem.

Sailors often anchor in remote places. Why wouldn't it be prudent to discuss this or have a plan? I try to plan for as many contingencies as possible. I am responsible for the safety of my crew (my spouse).

In case you are wondering, I don't (yet) have a panic room in my home, just sayin......

I have always had a bad feeling about the natives around Harbor Springs!

They are savages!

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The dog is a terrific alarm . . . except potentially a hassle with quarantine in NZ (and a very few other places, mostly commonwealth). I am not up-to-date on that.

 

Other than that there are well developed and inexpensive motion sensors, and pressure sensitive mats. You would get more advance warning with the motion sensors, but also more false positives. These would not cause any administrative or legal problems for you in foreign countries, and could easily be rigged to be electrically safe on a salt water boat. They could trigger REALLY loud alarms and REALLY bright lights. They could also trigger tear gas, but that WOULD cause you potential administrative problems (illegal in Australia just for instance)

 

Costa Rica is in fact one of the real problem area today. We wanted to see it, so we went and kept a very low profile, but there is both common stealing and more violent stuff there.

 

One thing to be careful of when reading reports of violence against cruisers . . . is that some fraction of them have been buying drugs at the time or previously involved in it. I just happen to know that about a couple Caribbean cases, where it was never mentioned in any of the articles.

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I always wonder about why we who live in the States worry about being invaded at night while at anchor. If you check I am almost certain you will find the crime rate where you are going is substantially lower than where you are. Since you do not say where you are planning to go, (given that you do not have a boat yet, may not have thought that far out), but most of the places you will go initially from the East coast, e.g. Bermuda, Bahamas, the Caribbean are not an issue. If for no other reason than you will be challenged to find a secluded anchorage where you are the only anchored boat.

 

As for Estar's point - take what you hear and read with a grain of salt, a big grain. When we were last in the Eastern Caribbean in 2004, there was a broadcast over the "Safety and Security Net" that a boat had been found off the Los Testigos shot up with some dead sailors. The "word" was it was a South African boat, with Italians on board? In Venezuelan waters? Sounds interesting - piracy,? No just a drug deal gone bad it eventually turned out. As for the Mexican incident I recall one that sounds strikingly similar to the one you mention - look a little deeper and I think you may find they were anchored off a prison island where anchoring was prohibited. In the case I recall the "locals" where escaped prisoners.

 

So two points will go a long way to protecting you - 1. do not become involved in drug deals, and 2. use a modicum of common sense where you anchor.

 

As for dogs you could not get me to put up with the daily routine of having to take them ashore, multiple times a day, to do their business.

 

As for guns - if you have one on board make sure you will use it to kill another human being without hesitating; and understand that if you declare it almost every country, (exception is the Bahamas, who will not allow you to bring in a dog, unless you have gone through a number of hoops), will require you to leave it with the local authorities, so it will not be with you when you are anchored in the anchorages you are concerned about. And yes you will have to go back to where you cleared in to pick it up when you leave. If you do not declare it, you risk losing your boat if you use it, or otherwise get caught with it.

 

We have cruised the Caribbean a number of times and have always found the locals honest, friendly folk. If you think about it, if you were a local on a small island, say Bequia, could you put up with locals who rob and steal?

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Yup, best for you to just stay home, where its safe,

 

and then you wont have to worry about, the amazing adventures that come with, "cruising full time".

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Yes and no. Depends on where you go. For example, the muder rate in the BVI is about the same as the murder rate at local PTA meetings while the murder rate in the USVI is worse than a really bad part of Detroit. When I was in the BVI I never once felt any less safe than sitting in my slip at my marina. Guns are a huge hassle because the places you are likely to really need one you are also likely to not legally be able to have one. I remember having to check my 12 gauge in when arriving in Bermuda, so I was totally unarmed in case an irate waiter came looking for a bigger tip :rolleyes: Then you go and kill an intruder and find out you just shot the mayor's nephew or the police chief's gandson or something :o I have heard of people keeping wasp spray as an intruder deterent. It shoots a long way and does not look like a weapon to the customs man.

 

 

I always wonder about why we who live in the States worry about being invaded at night while at anchor. If you check I am almost certain you will find the crime rate where you are going is substantially lower than where you are. Since you do not say where you are planning to go, (given that you do not have a boat yet, may not have thought that far out), but most of the places you will go initially from the East coast, e.g. Bermuda, Bahamas, the Caribbean are not an issue. If for no other reason than you will be challenged to find a secluded anchorage where you are the only anchored boat.

 

As for Estar's point - take what you hear and read with a grain of salt, a big grain. When we were last in the Eastern Caribbean in 2004, there was a broadcast over the "Safety and Security Net" that a boat had been found off the Los Testigos shot up with some dead sailors. The "word" was it was a South African boat, with Italians on board? In Venezuelan waters? Sounds interesting - piracy,? No just a drug deal gone bad it eventually turned out. As for the Mexican incident I recall one that sounds strikingly similar to the one you mention - look a little deeper and I think you may find they were anchored off a prison island where anchoring was prohibited. In the case I recall the "locals" where escaped prisoners.

 

So two points will go a long way to protecting you - 1. do not become involved in drug deals, and 2. use a modicum of common sense where you anchor.

 

As for dogs you could not get me to put up with the daily routine of having to take them ashore, multiple times a day, to do their business.

 

As for guns - if you have one on board make sure you will use it to kill another human being without hesitating; and understand that if you declare it almost every country, (exception is the Bahamas, who will not allow you to bring in a dog, unless you have gone through a number of hoops), will require you to leave it with the local authorities, so it will not be with you when you are anchored in the anchorages you are concerned about. And yes you will have to go back to where you cleared in to pick it up when you leave. If you do not declare it, you risk losing your boat if you use it, or otherwise get caught with it.

 

We have cruised the Caribbean a number of times and have always found the locals honest, friendly folk. If you think about it, if you were a local on a small island, say Bequia, could you put up with locals who rob and steal?

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Thanks everyone for the interesting comments. Some have been very helpful and others less so. Let me clarify for those with reading and comprehension issues. I've never once mentioned using a gun. I've been very careful to avoid discussing what counter measures I might employ. Largely because that's something more complex and I'd seek advice from other venues. For the purpose of this discussion, let's assume that I would not bring any guns.

 

For those of you who suggest that this is a non-issue let me ask you whether you know anyone who has an alarm on their home whilst living in a G-20 country. How many home owners arm their alarms when sleeping to detect intruders? We buy insurance for things which may never happen and are very unlikely but we sleep better with the insurance.

 

Those of you who know who I am and my wife's story know that extreme violence is not just something that happens to someone else or someone taking risks (i.e. wrong place/wrong time, buying drugs or whatever).

 

Back on topic. In ideal world, I'd love to have a radar or motion or heat/noise sensor which could detect intruders at a distance of at least 200 feet. Giving me time to pour oil on the deck or lock the boat up or whatever my plan is.

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I have seen custom hatch and companionway inserts of stainless bar or tube that allow you to secure the boat while allowing for good ventilation. The guy that had them was a world cruiser and had experienced petty theft while on anchor and off the boat. He was fairly certain the thieves were other cruisers who dropped by for some shopping as they left the anchorage.

 

Thes certainly could be adapted to lock while you are in the cabin similar to urban door and window burglar bars if you really feel the need. That would allow you to turn on deck lights, sound alarms and call for help.

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I have seen custom hatch and companionway inserts of stainless bar or tube that allow you to secure the boat while allowing for good ventilation. The guy that had them was a world cruiser and had experienced petty theft while on anchor and off the boat. He was fairly certain the thieves were other cruisers who dropped by for some shopping as they left the anchorage.

 

Thes certainly could be adapted to lock while you are in the cabin similar to urban door and window burglar bars if you really feel the need. That would allow you to turn on deck lights, sound alarms and call for help.

 

Yeah, sounds great!

 

Except maybe that you get to spend every night at anchor in your own boat-shaped jail.

 

Romain

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I can't think of anyplace I have ever sailed that was even REMOTELY as dangerous as walking around a big city. Really your best weapon - by far - is intelligence. If the locals on island X are prone to stealing you stuff and attacking you, visit their neighbors on islands Y and Z. I can't think of much in the way of alarm systems that wouldn't drive you insane with false alarms except for things like a pressure mat or a magnet switch on the companionway that sets of a buzzer if someone slides it back. I'll repeat - if you plan your trip right, death by lightning or a gang of attack jellyfish is VASTLY more likely than attack by humans.

 

My alarm:

 

post-9077-0-01526000-1365688822_thumb.jpg

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Let's bring this back to first principles. You are worried about risk: someone boarding your boat and stealing your stuff or maybe causing you (or your crew) harm. I understand four common risk mitigation methods:

 

1. Avoid. Avoid the risk by choosing where and when you go. Avoid the 'risky' places.
2. Transfer. Transfer the risk to someone else. Insuring all your 'stuff' is one way to transfer risk from you to your insurance company.
3. Mitigate the risk. Don't have expensive stuff on board. Be ready to give away your hand-held radio, iStuff, computer and the contents of your liquor cabinet. Hide your cash, passports and credit cards. Do something to scare away/deter intruders once they step on board.
4. Accept the risk. Risk is part of life. Figure the probability and consequences of the event and see if you can live with it.
I think you need a broader view of the risks and how to deal with them. Alarm systems and such are just one aspect.

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Thinking back to my youth, if we found one boat in the anchorage that set off an alarm and had the owner pouring oil all over it if we rowed by, THAT boat would be getting a nightly visit to watch the show.

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I think simple precautions such as locking your boat at night, adding a pressure pad that announces the arrival of an uninvited guest and the ability to flood the deck with lights from below is all that is needed. Some one up to mischief really doesn't want to be on the deck of a well lit boat.

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One of the simplest/cheapest forms of deterrence is a LED combination anchor/cockpit light like those from Bebi -

 

http://www.bebi-electronics.com/beka.html

 

As far as any sort of alarm trigger, I would guess a pressure-sensitive mat of some sort as others have mentioned would be the way to go... I've always thought having it rigged to the playing of a recording of a shotgun being racked could work pretty well... (grin)

 

If you're really that concerned about being boarded in a particular spot, by far the most effective strategy would be to simply maintain an anchor watch thru the night, with a powerful handheld searchlight at the ready... Even grabbing catnaps like a singlehander might do at sea, simply scanning the anchorage every 30 minutes or so with a 2 million candlepower light, making it clear that someone is awake and on-guard, would seem to be deterrent enough...

 

Do your sleeping during the day, just part of the price of cruising in such a "Paradise"... (grin)

 

As others have suggested, with piracy risks today being so clearly defined, and overwhelmingly confined to certain regions of the globe - all within a certain amount of degrees latitude of the Equator - it just seems SO much simpler to do your cruising where the pirates ain't...

 

squidholesunset1.jpg

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Hmm... Risk assessments tend to be pretty subjective. Some would say, why worry about getting shot at home/work/school or the movie theater and congress might say that risk is real and needs to be addressed. Who could have predicted the fact that my wife was technically dead for a few minutes after an attack by teenagers in the parking lot of a Manhattan shopping center. Personally, I've lived and travelled extensively in Emerging Markets in every continent except Australia and Africa. I have a different perception of the risks. Whatever. Horses for courses.

 

Interestingly, I decided to do a reality check to see how much I might be over reacting to my personal experience. So I googled murder rate by country. I came up with this:

 

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f9/Map_of_world_by_intentional_homicide_rate.png

 

Looks like 80% of the places that I'd like to visit are dark blue (high murder rates).

 

We all know how to mitigate risk by avoiding obviously dangerous locations/activities. Sometime risks are hidden.

 

The ideas about lights and sound and locking hatches etc are good and sensible. Beyond that, seems like remote detection is impossible or likely to keep one up at night with false alarms. Basically, the consensus seems to be HTFU and deal with the low probability of something bad happening. At the end of the day, that's how we all live each day.

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You might remember that Peter Blake died only because he pulled a gun to "defend" himself. And many, many countries frown upon you bringing a gun into their space. If you declare it, they take it off you. If you don't declare it, you could go to jail.

Yup, if you read the account of his death, had he been a little more cool nerved, he could have walked away.

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the consensus seems to be HTFU and deal with the low probability of something bad happening. At the end of the day, that's how we all live each day.

 

I think that is a bit of an oversimplification.

 

I think the message is: (a) be careful where you go (B) accept that petty thievery is a problem around the world (and has been for hundreds of years) and you may at some point be a victim © if you want the rewards of visiting exotic locations you have to accept some risk.

 

At the end of the day, you have to be comfortable with the level of risk and how you deal with those risk. Then, you will enjoy cruising; otherwise you will just spend too much time and energy worrying.

 

I think there is a saying in Arabic that goes something like this: "Trust god, but tie up your horse."

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Stu:

 

I don't know your story, but you've obviously undergone a personal tragedy combined with global travel that has influenced your perceptions and decision-making. In the final analysis, your statement below makes the most sense:

 

The ideas about lights and sound and locking hatches etc are good and sensible. Beyond that, seems like remote detection is impossible or likely to keep one up at night with false alarms. Basically, the consensus seems to be HTFU and deal with the low probability of something bad happening. At the end of the day, that's how we all live each day.

 

FWIW, I was attacked in my bed in the middle of the night, by a pistol wielding assailant who tied me up, and proceeded to attempt to rape my then-wife, right next to me. She resisted, and he ran off. It was traumatic, it sucked, it left me with a feeling that I was a loser who failed to protect his family, the #1 duty of a husband and father. I got over it, educated myself, and take sensible precautions, and live without a "fortress" mentality.

 

Some pressure mats to trigger deck lights, a piezo-electric alarm tone to wake you, and a fair sized knife squirrled away in your bunk should be plenty.

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On the Wikipedia murder rate article - look a little deeper. Anguilla is listed with a murder rate of 6.8 per 100,000, but that was one murder, that's right just one. Antiqua at 6.8, had 6, the BVI at 8.6, had 2, Dominica at 22, had 15, Granada at 11.5, had 12, etc. Almost certainly none of these where cruisers, and few if any were tourists. So if you are planning on visiting the Eastern Caribbean, (the Virgin Islands, St Martin, Anguilla, St Barts, Antiqua, Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos) - the total number of murders reported in the Wiki article for those countries was - 357. 94 of which were in the Bahamas, and if you do not go to the USVI, Guadeloupe or St Lucia you can deduct another 119 for a total of 213, over half the total. Having been to all of these I would suggest you go, as they are great places to cruise, and I never felt at risk in any of them.

NYC where you live had 414 murders, while LA where I live had 297. Both really low numbers historically. I feel safe in LA, the area where we live has had one murder in the last 5 years, but I must say safer still in the Islands. Based on my experience of multiple Island cruises, I see little reason to barricade yourself in your boat at night, or to have a dog or gun for protection, (you may want the dog for companionship). I am not an anti-gun guy, grew up with guns, and have a gun at home, a shotgun, that is kept unloaded and put away in the attic. Use it for trap shooting.

Ultimately we all need to do what makes us feel safe, but think about the fact, say on the tacks on the deck idea, that it is almost certainly you that will be up in the middle of the night checking the anchor or stopping a halyard from rattling. Not a robber, rapist, or murderer.

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Off topic but related... some of the comments about how safe the caribbean and bahamas are inspired me to look for some objective and credible data. I found a United Nations web site with data on Assaults, Robbery, Murder, Sexual Assaults, etc. The data on central america, the caribbean and bahamas is surprising. Contrary to what some here believe, the crime rates range from above average to extremely high.

 

When we think about how to be 'sensible' we avoid flashing cash, wearing jewelry or otherwise advertising bounty whilst in dodgy neighborhoods and/or away from the protection of crowds. Now, to put this in perspective, the boats which we cruise on (or aspire to cruise on) represent 10 to 20 times or more the average GDP/Capita in many of the countries we visit. Whilst, as we all agree, 99% (or some other made up, but high percentage) of the people in these countries are nicer than our friends and colleagues, there are a few who are responsible for these disturbing crime statistics reported by the UN. Anchoring a boat in a remote location in Costa Rica, Mexico, the Bahamas or many other popular tropical destinations is like flashing a Rolex in the South Bronx at night. Might not get you mugged, but it's riskier than doing the same in front of the Metropolitan Museum at noon on a weekend.

 

Having considered the comments, and thinking it through, my takeaway is that it's best to avoid remote and isolated anchorages in any of the "dark blue" countries. Beyond that, some lights, sound and perhaps deck/lifeline sensors is about the best you can do without inviting or encouraging violence (the Peter Blake mistake).

 

Thanks again. Think we've beaten this horse to death.

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my takeaway is that it's best to avoid remote and isolated anchorages in any of the "dark blue" countries..

I believe that practically speaking that would be the wrong take away. Just for instance I am aware of the circumstances of all the recent murders of 'visitors' in Antigua, and none, zero, were in remote anchorages. That is also true of other Caribbean islands where I know the detailed facts.

 

It may well even be that remote anchorages are "safer" but I don't have enough data to statistically support that.

 

And the isolated anchorages are usually the very best spots for cruising.

 

So, I would suggest you rethink that take away.

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Jon, I never tire of looking at your pictures.

 

How's the clean-up from the storm going?

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On the Wikipedia murder rate article - look a little deeper. Anguilla is listed with a murder rate of 6.8 per 100,000, but that was one murder, that's right just one. Antiqua at 6.8, had 6, the BVI at 8.6, had 2, Dominica at 22, had 15, Granada at 11.5, had 12, etc. Almost certainly none of these where cruisers, and few if any were tourists. So if you are planning on visiting the Eastern Caribbean, (the Virgin Islands, St Martin, Anguilla, St Barts, Antiqua, Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos) - the total number of murders reported in the Wiki article for those countries was - 357. 94 of which were in the Bahamas, and if you do not go to the USVI, Guadeloupe or St Lucia you can deduct another 119 for a total of 213, over half the total. Having been to all of these I would suggest you go, as they are great places to cruise, and I never felt at risk in any of them.

 

NYC where you live had 414 murders, while LA where I live had 297. Both really low numbers historically. I feel safe in LA, the area where we live has had one murder in the last 5 years, but I must say safer still in the Islands. Based on my experience of multiple Island cruises, I see little reason to barricade yourself in your boat at night, or to have a dog or gun for protection, (you may want the dog for companionship). I am not an anti-gun guy, grew up with guns, and have a gun at home, a shotgun, that is kept unloaded and put away in the attic. Use it for trap shooting.

 

Ultimately we all need to do what makes us feel safe, but think about the fact, say on the tacks on the deck idea, that it is almost certainly you that will be up in the middle of the night checking the anchor or stopping a halyard from rattling. Not a robber, rapist, or murderer.

ccruiser,

 

Murder is an extreme event and, as you point out, can distort the data. I've been looking at the UN site below and looking at robbery, assault, sexual assault etc. There are more data points and its' a better representation of the risk. No one cares if their watch, radio or dingy gets stolen. It's the assault risk which is more of a concern.

 

http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/data-and-analysis/statistics/data.html

 

If you download the spreadsheet for Assaults (defined as: resulting in serious bodily injury; excluding indecent/sexual assault; threats and slapping/punching. 'Assault' leading to death should also be excluded.) you'll see the following for 2010. I've listed a few countries and Assaults/Rate. The first number is the actual count, the second is the 'rate' per 100,000 citizens.

 

Switzerland 487/6.4

Italy 64,866 /107

USA 778,901/251

Bahamas 3,063/893

Grenada 1,968/1,833

Saint Vincent-Grenadines 1,307/1,195

Mexico 230,687/204

St Kitts/Nevis 155/296

 

Robbery

 

Bahamas 405/119*

Barbados 1,972/723*

St Kitts/Nevis 810/1,545

St Vincent/Grenadines 1,724/1,576

Costa Rica 6,279/136*

USA 2,159,878/696

Switzerland 62,243/812

Australia 216,886/974

Germany 385,013/467

 

(*) 2009 data, otherwise 2010.

 

In some cases, these cruising destinations are on par with G-20s and in others quite a bit worse... Interesting. Not conclusive, obviously, but notable.

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Jon, I never tire of looking at your pictures.

 

+1 Beautiful shot.. where was it taken?

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You still aren't getting - and cannot get - get the full picture from these statistics.

Baltimore - relatively dangerous city with a relatively high (but falling) murder rate. Also an attractive cruising destination. Almost *none* of the crime is happening where a sailor is likely to be. Getting killed in the Inner Harbor or Canton is not likely at all.

Bahamas - Nassau and Freeport have almost all the people and almost all the crime. Stay away from these shitholes and enjoy the Out Islands. I have been from one end to the other of the Bahamas and getting attacked in the Out Islands is just not anything I would worry about. Far from being dangerous, the isolated anchorages where you can get to know basically everyone there are likely to be the safest. OTOH last time I stopped in Nassau for fuel I made one person stay with the plane while the rest of us got lunch. There was a time when certain drug cartels were operating on certain islands, but AFAIK major smuggling routes shifted well over a decade ago. As with anyplace, stay away from the drug trade.

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You might remember that Peter Blake died only because he pulled a gun to "defend" himself. And many, many countries frown upon you bringing a gun into their space. If you declare it, they take it off you. If you don't declare it, you could go to jail.

Yup, if you read the account of his death, had he been a little more cool nerved, he could have walked away.

 

If he had not have picked up the gun to "defend" himself, he would have walked away.

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Agreed... lies, damn lies and statistics...

 

You cannot - get the full picture from these statistics.

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I guess this is heavy and expensive but I could envision a 'consumer' version of this system which integrates video and infrared (heat) detection into a 360degree surveillance system. Perfect. ;-)

 

http://www.securitydefence.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Vigiscan-Presentation.pdf

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I guess this is heavy and expensive but I could envision a 'consumer' version of this system which integrates video and infrared (heat) detection into a 360degree surveillance system. Perfect. ;-)

 

http://www.securitydefence.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Vigiscan-Presentation.pdf

Our local police-boat has one of these and it is very cool to use. (I bought a police-boat ride at a charity auction so I got to check it out)

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I picked up one of these for $5 at Harbor China Freight last year. Have it hanging on the bulkhead. The mystery metal hasn't started to rust yet.

 

image_14843.jpg

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Sensor and some bright lights seem to really dampen the mood of those trying to be sneaky. Seems that knowing your not alone before going topsides and having an idea who is out there is the big things every boarding incident I've read about would have probably changed the outcome. The recent boarding of a cat in Mexico the owner opened the rear porch door before realizing the kid was packing a gun. Pretty sure he would have stayed out of sight and not opened the door had he known who was pounding on the back door.

 

Bright lights on sensors let em know you know they are there. If you want to get fancy have a camera set up so you can do a visual check without making it obvious your home.

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In all seriousness, having looked at the offerings and ideas on the web (slow day at work), most of the ideas are ridiculous. There is one that I like. Apart from lights etc, the best combination of simple, cheap and effective is a netting designed to wrap and trap propellers. The commercial version I saw is fired from a launcher but that's silly. I think that one could construct a simple DIY solution with four floats, four small anchors in a perimeter joined together with a web of semi-submerged lines which would/could foil an approaching outboard. Obviously not for use in Sag Harbor or the Great Salt Pond but in truly hostile locations like Key West or Palm Beach were the natives are dangerous, I like this defense best.

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In all seriousness, having looked at the offerings and ideas on the web (slow day at work), most of the ideas are ridiculous. There is one that I like. Apart from lights etc, the best combination of simple, cheap and effective is a netting designed to wrap and trap propellers. The commercial version I saw is fired from a launcher but that's silly. I think that one could construct a simple DIY solution with four floats, four small anchors in a perimeter joined together with a web of semi-submerged lines which would/could foil an approaching outboard. Obviously not for use in Sag Harbor or the Great Salt Pond but in truly hostile locations like Key West or Palm Beach were the natives are dangerous, I like this defense best.

 

Just remember it's there when you drag at 2AM and decide to use your dink to help reset the anchor.....

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Besides for that, after about the third time you set up this huge net with room to swing at anchor you'll give up on it and you will REALLY give up on it when people not expecting a 200 + foot diameter net near your boat get tangled in it. It is hard enough getting a nettle net to work. The one time I chased off a boat that I didn't like the looks of I used a white magnesium flare. Whomerver they were, they didn't like being brightly lit and left.

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detect intruders at a distance of at least 200 feet.

Broad band radar, with a guard zone is your sensor for that. It's terrific at small targets up close - can see seagulls, mooring buoys, and someone swimming if you tune it. And you can of course also use it for 'normal' radar purposes.

 

But if you are looking out 200', and are swinging at anchor, no matter what sensor you are using, you are going to be getting false positives in most anchorages.

 

Add a steerable dual IR/normal web cam (not very expensive or complex) and you can take a look at the target without going outside.

 

Add pressure mats at the key points on deck hooked to alarms and lights in case you just fall asleep and don't hear the radar guard alarm.

 

That's as good as its going to get.

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What Kent Island Sailor said is accurate. These numbers do not reflect the reality from a cruising point of view. I have cruised the Bahamas and Eastern Caribbean Islands for a total of 4 or more years over the last 20 plus. (KIS the drug running you mention ended at least a decade ago, it was centered on Norman Island, and you can now visit the abandoned buildings and the DC3 that landed in the Pond, which is an interesting snorkel), I have met and traveled with hundreds of other sailors, (some carried guns, some had dogs/cats (most for companionship), and the vast majority had neither). None of the folks I knew ever had an issue with crime either on their boat or while ashore. That does not mean that there were not attacks, e.g. there was a famous one in Barduba some years back. But that type of event was an outlier, one of the reasons it caused such surprise in the community. In the Virgin Islands keep to the BVI, better anchorages in any event, and out of St Thomas/Charlotte Amalie if you are worried about crime. Etc on down the chain.

 

But I predict you will find that as you cruise the more secure you will feel. As an example we met a couple who had been out for a year at the time we met, in the Bahamas Greater Antilles, taking the Thorny Path. They started out with a gun. We sailed across to St Martin with them - they left the gun behind in the BVI and picked it up on their way back 5 months latter. They just saw no need for it given their experiences. (I know you have not raised the issue of guns but others have, and it is the "preferred" method of protection. You will in any event have a "gun" on board, a flare launcher, which can do double duty if needed.)

 

So you need to do what makes you comfortable, and nothing anyone says can change that. Hope you get your boat and you and your wife get out cruising, its a great life.

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What Kent Island Sailor said is accurate. These numbers do not reflect the reality from a cruising point of view. I have cruised the Bahamas and Eastern Caribbean Islands for a total of 4 or more years over the last 20 plus. (KIS the drug running you mention ended at least a decade ago, it was centered on Norman Island, and you can now visit the abandoned buildings and the DC3 that landed in the Pond, which is an interesting snorkel), I have met and traveled with hundreds of other sailors, (some carried guns, some had dogs/cats (most for companionship), and the vast majority had neither). None of the folks I knew ever had an issue with crime either on their boat or while ashore. That does not mean that there were not attacks, e.g. there was a famous one in Barduba some years back. But that type of event was an outlier, one of the reasons it caused such surprise in the community. In the Virgin Islands keep to the BVI, better anchorages in any event, and out of St Thomas/Charlotte Amalie if you are worried about crime. Etc on down the chain.

 

But I predict you will find that as you cruise the more secure you will feel. As an example we met a couple who had been out for a year at the time we met, in the Bahamas Greater Antilles, taking the Thorny Path. They started out with a gun. We sailed across to St Martin with them - they left the gun behind in the BVI and picked it up on their way back 5 months latter. They just saw no need for it given their experiences. (I know you have not raised the issue of guns but others have, and it is the "preferred" method of protection. You will in any event have a "gun" on board, a flare launcher, which can do double duty if needed.)

 

So you need to do what makes you comfortable, and nothing anyone says can change that. Hope you get your boat and you and your wife get out cruising, its a great life.

 

 

Since arriving down here we've gone through the USVI, BVI, St. Martin, Anguilla, St. Kitts, St. Eustatia, Antigua, Guadeloupe, and are now sitting in the Saintes.

 

I've yet to feel...threatened or in danger. Yes, we have a chain on the dinghy, and the engine to the boat and we usually chain it up - on the dock or to the boat at night if we don't lift it. Basic precautions.

 

Its only been five months down here, but I don't get this strong sense of fear of violent crime. Petty theft? Maybe - you need to not be stupid about things. But I was much more concerned about that in the years I lived in NYC than anything I've seen here. Just like in NYC, when I walk through St. John's on Antigua or near the cruise docks in Road Town I stick my wallet in my front pocket. But walking in road town at night, back from dinner? Not really a problem we saw.

 

Keep in mind also we're not Taxi Tourists coming in on a cruise ship or mega yacht and taking cabs everywhere. We walk a LOT, and we use the local bus systems which take you to places you won't otherwise see.

 

Of course no where down here yet is really "remote" - you don't seem to have any anchorages where there's absolutely no one around. And also from a lifestyle perspective, we're a family of four that is usually moving together. My 15 year old is now about 6'4" tall so he looks like another male adult. So we're not generally single adults moving alone.

 

We've also avoided some places - like Point a Pitre on Guadeloupe - because they were reported to be...less nice...by other cruisers we talked to. We almost went by bus to look for a chandlery (nothing in Deshaies) but had no desire to leave the boat there.

 

But you also have to take what other cruisers tell you with a grain of salt too. One friend boat of ours hated Deshaies; if we listened to them we would have missed what we think was one of the best stops we've made yet!

 

It doesn't pay to be paranoid, or cower in fear - not how I want to live life. If I was the sort to be cowering in fear, I suppose I'd live in a house back in the states with triple locked doors and an alarm system and I'd never go at. Not my style...when I lived in the states we never locked the doors, and we never used an alarm either (though we had one for insurance savings).

 

I'm not about to go strewing glass or oil, rigging nets, or carrying a gun on the boat either. I'd probably forget the damned net and get cuaght in it making the A.M. run to the boulangerie. Common sense and care will weigh out over the more aggressive deterrents.

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We found this drug plane at Great Harbor Cay in the late 80s:

 

What Kent Island Sailor said is accurate. These numbers do not reflect the reality from a cruising point of view. I have cruised the Bahamas and Eastern Caribbean Islands for a total of 4 or more years over the last 20 plus. (KIS the drug running you mention ended at least a decade ago, it was centered on Norman Island, and you can now visit the abandoned buildings and the DC3 that landed in the Pond, which is an interesting snorkel), I have met and traveled with hundreds of other sailors, (some carried guns, some had dogs/cats (most for companionship), and the vast majority had neither). None of the folks I knew ever had an issue with crime either on their boat or while ashore. That does not mean that there were not attacks, e.g. there was a famous one in Barduba some years back. But that type of event was an outlier, one of the reasons it caused such surprise in the community. In the Virgin Islands keep to the BVI, better anchorages in any event, and out of St Thomas/Charlotte Amalie if you are worried about crime. Etc on down the chain.

 

But I predict you will find that as you cruise the more secure you will feel. As an example we met a couple who had been out for a year at the time we met, in the Bahamas Greater Antilles, taking the Thorny Path. They started out with a gun. We sailed across to St Martin with them - they left the gun behind in the BVI and picked it up on their way back 5 months latter. They just saw no need for it given their experiences. (I know you have not raised the issue of guns but others have, and it is the "preferred" method of protection. You will in any event have a "gun" on board, a flare launcher, which can do double duty if needed.)

 

So you need to do what makes you comfortable, and nothing anyone says can change that. Hope you get your boat and you and your wife get out cruising, its a great life.

 

post-9077-0-94586600-1365790009_thumb.jpg

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Of course no where down here yet is really "remote" - you don't seem to have any anchorages where there's absolutely no one around. And also from a lifestyle perspective, we're a family of four that is usually moving together. My 15 year old is now about 6'4" tall so he looks like another male adult. So we're not generally single adults moving alone.

 

BJ . . . . if you get a chance, take the opportunity to cruise around the 'back side' (northeast side) of Antigua. There are a half dozen nice anchorages in there that you will be alone in, and the fishing is (was) pretty good. The cruisers don't go there because you have to sail a little upwind, and do a little eyeball navigation. A clockwise trip around the whole island is very worthwhile.

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You know, a good motion detector arranged in the right orientation might be better than a pressure pad.

 

Most of the good ones use IR ( infrared ) sensing technology, which means they are looking for something warm moving across it's 'sectors'. The ones I use in the lighting industry are mostly meant for indoor use, but there are some that are outdoor-rated.

 

Just saying - they could be switched on at bedtime and rigged to turn on every light aboard if you have the chops to wire it.

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I can't believe I didn't think to mention this-- we have a Potato Canon on Luchador. No one will ever try to fuck with us.

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Of course no where down here yet is really "remote" - you don't seem to have any anchorages where there's absolutely no one around. And also from a lifestyle perspective, we're a family of four that is usually moving together. My 15 year old is now about 6'4" tall so he looks like another male adult. So we're not generally single adults moving alone.

 

BJ . . . . if you get a chance, take the opportunity to cruise around the 'back side' (northeast side) of Antigua. There are a half dozen nice anchorages in there that you will be alone in, and the fishing is (was) pretty good. The cruisers don't go there because you have to sail a little upwind, and do a little eyeball navigation. A clockwise trip around the whole island is very worthwhile.

 

We went around counter clockwise, though it was windy with North swell and the water was all riled up and milky/murky. It was quite lovely, I took your advice about getting through the reefs and shoals there - though we couldn't see much in the water it was fine.

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Sorry Student ,for the experience your Wife and you suffered .

 

The rest of the World is NOT N(or S) America.

 

Fuck the statistics and talk to people that have actually been there and not just a few people who have axes to grind that get reported out of context.The only boat that I would have difficulty stealing from or starting, with anything more than a screwdriver is a steel boat with welded bars across all the openings ,ie a prison cell; with the added advantage of being able to drown as Dr Johnson may have said.

 

You want to live like that ?

 

A few pointers:-

 

A lot,if not most of the thieving off boats is from other Cruisers ,or in areas where Cruisers accept goods with 'no questions asked'

 

NOBODY likes an arrogant Fucker.Just because all the 'workshops' insist a 50 footer is a starter boat and you deserve it because you can afford it,does not mean you should run the Genny all night on those rare occasions at anchor,just so you can sleep under A/C, it pisses off everybody not just the locals.

 

Going by bus/taxi to see the Governor/Chief/Boss at a reception organized by the Rally is not really getting on down with the locals.

 

Most long term cruisers we know don't even bother locking the companionway/washboards when they leave the boat,why? because if it is open there may be somebody on board,locked up means empty and it is easier to replace what is stolen than repair the damage done getting in.

 

It sounds like a Hippy thing but you really can have a great time armed with nothing more than a smile and an interest in other people

 

Not to sound facetious but if the last sentance strikes you as odd, move to Canada and get used to leaving your front door unlocked.

 

 

Rob xxx

 

 

Background:-

 

Probably spent 20 years in London,quite a big city,and I didn't live in the pretty parts,would I leave my front door unlocked ? NO. Did I fuck around in the less salubrious parts? YES.

 

Sailed down the Red Sea in 08,went round to Dubai same year in an effectively engineless 25ft boat 2 up, been used as a turning point by a flottila (?)of Frigates in the Gulf ,got a forecast from the Iranian Navy who came within 20ft to take piccies on their cam-corders,waved at and to smugglers running from the Horn (Somalia - Aden) and the Hormus Straits (Oman-Iran) Couple of years before that went around the Black Sea, Northern Turkey to the Ukraine,people would climb on board just to see the inside because they didn't believe you could live aboard. Would a gun or an effective perimiter guard have helped in these situations-no Try explaining to the fishermen that moved you outside of their boat at 4 am so you wouldn't get damaged,without waking you up,why you felt it was necessary to put a cattle fence on the guardrail.

 

 

Met lots of cruisers, only Americans (and Austrians for some reason ) feel the need for weapons, frankly if that is your opinion you need to grow up before you go out and meet the rest of the world.

 

Again I don't mean to denigrate your experience.

 

R.

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Most long term cruisers we know don't even bother locking the companionway/washboards when they leave the boat,why? because if it is open there may be somebody on board,locked up means empty and it is easier to replace what is stolen than repair the damage done getting in.

 

It sounds like a Hippy thing but you really can have a great time armed with nothing more than a smile and an interest in other people

 

Not to sound facetious but if the last sentance strikes you as odd, move to Canada and get used to leaving your front door unlocked.

 

 

 

Met lots of cruisers, only Americans (and Austrians for some reason ) feel the need for weapons, frankly if that is your opinion you need to grow up before you go out and meet the rest of the world.

 

 

 

R.

 

Please don't generalize...

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I can't think of anyplace I have ever sailed that was even REMOTELY as dangerous as walking around a big city. Really your best weapon - by far - is intelligence. If the locals on island X are prone to stealing you stuff and attacking you, visit their neighbors on islands Y and Z.

Totally agree. We spent close to a year in Mexico and loved it. We never felt at risk. One thing that was and is an issue is outboard theft. The recent attack in Mexico mentioned by the OP was in a remote area with a reputation for problems. In the more commonly visited spots we gringoes bring in a lot of money to the communities. The perpetrator of an assault or rape would face some fallout from his neighbors who make a living providing goods and services to us. That's one of the reasons that the narco-criminals almost go out of their way to avoid harming tourists or cruisers.

 

In general, Mexican society is very welcoming and friendly. You have a lot of people down there who are poor by our standards but they have pride in themselves and don't regard themselves as poor.

Common sense goes a long way towards keeping yourself safe in the "land of no problemas."
One passive measure I take in the event someone enters the boat while we're gone is I leave some decoys in plain sight like a wallet with expired credit cards and a small amount of cash.
There are some crooks masquerading as cruisers and their thefts often get attributed to the locals.
My strategy for avoiding the threat of outboard theft is pretty simple. We use a porta-bote. Usually we just have a 2hp outboard that is of little value to the crowd stealing outboards. I'd like to get a nesting dinghy to replace the PB. We have an 8hp that usually is locked to the rail unless we're going on some sort of expedition. The 8hp has a distinctively "decorated" cover which makes it a bit less desirable for thieves.

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We went around counter clockwise, though it was windy with North swell and the water was all riled up and milky/murky. .

Good for you! That's the challenging way.

 

The Carib is pretty crowded, but when you get to the pacific, you will that almost everywhere if you get 30nm away from the 'main anchorage' you can be pretty much by yourself.

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Beth (Estar), I've recently finished your "Voyager's Handbook". It's been the most interesting and informative of the 'how to go sailing offshore' books I've read. Only now realized who you are when I clicked the hyperlink to your web site. If you're ever in Eastern Long Island Sound, ping me and I'll invite to dinner at our YC (on Gardiner's Bay). Michael

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I have been boarded twice , once by an unarmed sneak thief in Dominica , once by 6 armed crooks in Colombia . I have a boarding pike ( short spear ) in a nice bracket by my main hatch , bet I wouldn't be alert enough to use it , if the past is any indication

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Jon, I never tire of looking at your pictures.

 

How's the clean-up from the storm going?

Thanks for asking - very slowly, I'm afraid... Pretty depressing how much of this area still looks not all that different from the day after the storm, many people still in a state of limbo, waiting for the new FEMA flood zone guidelines, insurance settlements, etc... I was incredibly lucky compared to most, my house has remained habitable throughout, heating this winter with my fireplace and a kerosene heater. Once I get a new heating system back in, and a new floor, I'll be pretty much back to normal, but this area has definitely been changed forever... Sad day last week, the little yacht club where I learned to sail as a kid, was finally demolished...

 

the pic is from the south coast of Newfoundland, an anchorage called The Squid Hole, just west of Ile aux Morts...

 

Here's another spot about 2 miles further east called Mickle's Tickle, with Ile aux Morts in the background...

 

 

MicklesTickle.jpg

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Hey Jon,

 

I'm really sorry to hear about your childhood training grounds being lost, but I'm heartened that damage to your property was less than I feared. I saw the photos you posted, and feared the worst.

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I have been boarded twice , once by an unarmed sneak thief in Dominica , once by 6 armed crooks in Colombia . I have a boarding pike ( short spear ) in a nice bracket by my main hatch , bet I wouldn't be alert enough to use it , if the past is any indication

 

 

How long ago in Dominica?

 

We're there now - the recent PAYS system the boat boys yacht helpers have set up seems to keep it pretty safe here. They patrol the harbor at night, among other things to keep it safe.

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Beth (Estar), I've recently finished your "Voyager's Handbook". It's been the most interesting and informative of the 'how to go sailing offshore' books I've read. Only now realized who you are when I clicked the hyperlink to your web site. If you're ever in Eastern Long Island Sound, ping me and I'll invite to dinner at our YC (on Gardiner's Bay). Michael

I am very slowly heading north . . . perhaps be in Block Island in 2 weeks, depending on weather. Its still cold offshore, so I am not pushing it . . . .from there to Buzzards bay and the CC canal. Doubt I will go into Long Island proper.

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One reason things are getting so bad in Costa Rica and have been so bad in parts of the Caribbean and all of CentroAmerica is that the drug trade is getting quite frenetic lately; whether the leaders are trying to earn all they can before the marijuana trade (hopefully) dies off, or whether Obama's navy and CG are burning extra billions to police the waterways, the cartels now have to send so much product North just to get enough of it to the USA that there is now a real 'merchant navy' down there; full criminal organizations with boats and guns, many of them with some military background from the various coups and shit, many of them jacked up on smack and crack...Guatemala and Nicaragua especially, but plenty has spilled over from South America and Panama northward.

 

When there's no drug courier work, they still have their boats and guns, and that still means plenty of crime in those areas. Puerto Limon is probably the worst of all of them; was the murder capital of centroamerica for a while and lots of coke zombies walk the streets, but there's also a network rolling up the west side, and Puntarenas is one of the worst areas for seaborne crime on the entire Pacific coast now. Puerto Quetzal actually has its own little pirate port in the very shadow of a big Guatemalan naval base and commercial port. It's nuts. Puerto Angel in Huatulco, quite a few towns in Salvadorean estuaries, wild how places can be so idyllic and perfect while housing entire smuggling operations...which are all run by ex-fisherman.

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Clean,

Can you get from the USA through the Panama Canal and still avoid all these assorted smugglers and pirates?

It sounds like it if you go via the Islands and not down the Central American coastline. I had the best time in Belize back in the day. Sadly I hear the are getting infiltrated by drug gangs and the police - all 6 of them - are not enough to stop them :(

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Joshua Slocum used thumbtacks and placed them all over his deck, AND IT WORKED. He used it while sailing around the southern tip of South America where Fuegian pirates commonly boarded and pirated ships at anchor. Although these pirates were barefoot, so I guess youd have to hope for the same conditions that existed for pirates back in 1895.

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In my experience the things you have to worry about most while cruising are (in order):

 

- F'ing idiots who anchor too close upwind of you.

- F'ing idiots who complain that you're anchored too close upwind of them.

- Fixing the f'ing boat.

- Staying out of the f'ing sun, although that goes away after a while you look like a local.

- The f'ing wind which doesn't know that it's not blowing in the direction that it's "supposed to".

 

Most people who sit around thinking about ways to repel boarders haven't actually been cruising anywhere. Life is short, quit thinking so much and go do it.

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In my experience the things you have to worry about most while cruising are (in order):

 

- F'ing idiots who anchor too close upwind of you.

- F'ing idiots who complain that you're anchored too close upwind of them.

- Fixing the f'ing boat.

- Staying out of the f'ing sun, although that goes away after a while you look like a local.

- The f'ing wind which doesn't know that it's not blowing in the direction that it's "supposed to".

 

Most people who sit around thinking about ways to repel boarders haven't actually been cruising anywhere. Life is short, quit thinking so much and go do it.

 

Just had my first experience with some clowns trawling up my anchor chain while failing to actually anchor their own boat.

 

French couple on a 47' Catamaran that was WAY too big for them. From watching them...a Mac 26 might have been too big for them.

 

The skill involved to pull my 7/16' chain taught at the surface, then RUN OVER IT with your engines revving up was stunning. And it made an impressive noise. This was before they circled completely around my boat while hooked on my rode...

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In my experience the things you have to worry about most while cruising are (in order):

 

Most people who sit around thinking about ways to repel boarders haven't actually been cruising anywhere. Life is short, quit thinking so much and go do it.

 

Afterguy, I am certainly guilty of being land locked at present. You have me dead to rights. And I'm amusing myself by planning a trip I'd like to begin within 5 years. It's a long time and I'm thinking about many things. If my thread is irritating for some reason, I'm sorry.

 

Having said that, I am not prepared to rule out any particular risk based on the experience of one, or a few individuals. The data points are immensely interesting and helpful but not conclusive. I'm in the business of preparing for Black Swans. As Nasim Taleb aptly relates, there are no number of white swans which rule out the existence of black swans. It only takes one black swan to prove they exist. We've read about, heard about or some here have experienced mild or severe incidents with unwelcome guests onboard cruising vessels. I'm not saying that I plan to sail in a fortress with iron bars and a 50MM canon on the bow, but I'd expect to have some surveillance which would wake me up in time to prepare tea and biscuits for my visitors.

 

Best Michael

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while not a cruiser, there are abundance of motion sensors out there, would it not be hard to rig up some LED spreader lights to some motion sensors, and an alarm inside the cabin such that youd be awakened if something tripped the sesnor.

 

I guess the key would be to figure out a way for the sensor to trip both on somthing other than the rocking of the boat...

 

while this only lights up the deck and such, it may not deter true pirates, but it may deter those looking for a quick snatch and grab..

 

Constantine wire onthe lifelines.... :)

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while not a cruiser, there are abundance of motion sensors out there, would it not be hard to rig up some LED spreader lights to some motion sensors, and an alarm inside the cabin such that youd be awakened if something tripped the sesnor.

 

I guess the key would be to figure out a way for the sensor to trip both on somthing other than the rocking of the boat...

 

while this only lights up the deck and such, it may not deter true pirates, but it may deter those looking for a quick snatch and grab..

 

Constantine wire onthe lifelines.... :)

 

Agreed. The main point is to be lit up and prepared to welcome the guests. That might be the sum total of 'defense' as we have already debated the risks of a more proactive response.

 

Having said that, I wonder how much it would cost to manufacture an set of infrared sensors which would track targets above some thresholds for mass, velocity and minimum heat variance. The computing component would not seem beyond a simple PC capability. In a remote harbor (with no other boats) one could set the thresholds for mass, heat signature and estimated time of intercept which would trigger a lights on response and an internal audio signal. The threshold for setting the lights and/or audible signal could be based on a threshold of time to arrive, in the condition that the heat target is on (or changes to) a vector which intercepts the boat.

 

Have no idea what the costs of infrared sensors which could pick up targets (the size of a human or outboard engine) at distances over 200 feet (as an example) but the rest of the gear should not cost more than a grand. If this was developed, proved reliable and could be sold for under $5 grand, I think there'd be a market. Mostly from paranoid land lubbers like myself who dream of setting to sea with more gadgets and toys than the cockpit of a Boeing 787.

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From 86-88 I lived on my boat in PNG. I was 'shopped' on once and did have the items returned by the neighbouring village. They were unusable due to immersion in salt water.

 

I ordered a 12 volt cattle fence from New Zealand. I had to fashion standoffs from plastic tubing so that the stainless fish leader wire did not contact the stantions, pushpit or pullpit. I used a magnetic door alarm reed switch fastened to the underside of the deck to switchthe 'fence'. A magnet disabled the fence but only when placed at the correct location on the deck. The Stainless life lines were grounded sufficiently on my glass boat.

 

I had no other incidents of successful night time boarding. There was a scream one time.

 

A few observations.

 

Urine is an electrolight. Remember that at night when you go outside to pee.

 

Your SSB will have a huge amount of noise from the charging of the capacitors in the electric fence unit. basically unusable on receive.

 

After a wet passage and rain, there will be a light and sound show upon switching the fence on. I had to rinse the forward standoffs some nights.

 

The amperage draw was about 10 amps per night. Worth the sleep.

 

Hope that might help.

 

 

 

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From 86-88 I lived on my boat in PNG. I was 'shopped' on once and did have the items returned by the neighbouring village. They were unusable due to immersion in salt water.

 

I ordered a 12 volt cattle fence from New Zealand. I had to fashion standoffs from plastic tubing so that the stainless fish leader wire did not contact the stantions, pushpit or pullpit. I used a magnetic door alarm reed switch fastened to the underside of the deck to switchthe 'fence'. A magnet disabled the fence but only when placed at the correct location on the deck. The Stainless life lines were grounded sufficiently on my glass boat.

 

I had no other incidents of successful night time boarding. There was a scream one time.

Golf clap. Very nice.

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