Papua New Guinea, New Britain Island, Rabaul: Boarded and Robbed at Knifepoint - November 2014
Boarded and Robbed in Kokopo, 28th November, 2014.
Two nights ago at anchor in Kokopo, about 7.30pm, we were boarded and robbed at knifepoint by 3-4 young men, about 20-21 years old. Two men tried to tie up the captain who was dozing in the cockpit. They gagged him with a t-shirt and held a machete to his throat and told him, if he called out, they would kill him.
I was in my cabin when a third man tried to cover my mouth and told me "don't scream". I screamed for all I was worth and he bolted. I chased him as far as the saloon and saw him getting away over the stern (he ended up in the water lol). They paddled away in an outrigger canoe as fast as they could.
We fired off a flare and the boat in front with 2 PNG guys motored over to investigate. When we told them what happened they did a bit of a search but came back 15 mins later saying they didn't have the fuel to keep looking. The rascals left behind their machete and a t shirt.
We tried to radio Rabaul Port Control on Channel 16 to alert them as to what happened, but could not raise them. We reported the incident to the police first thing next day. The guy who came inside was wearing a head torch and stole the wallet that was on the table (1000 kina and credit cards) and a laptop computer.
I used to work in Rabaul so was very aware of the security issues. We had removed EVERYTHING from the cockpit and chained and locked EVERYTHING up, including everything in the dinghy too (fuel tank, paddles, outboard). Nevertheless we were still done over.
I have been told that yachts have been robbed no matter where you anchor in the bay. A boat arrived here a few days ago and told us a yacht was boarded and robbed at gunpoint at Alotau.
The locals we have told about it are extremely angry and upset about this situation. Everyone has been helpful and supportive.
A good light in the cockpit at night might go a long way towards deterring such attacks, especially if you anchor in front of the resorts and as close to the shore as possible.
We were left quite shaken but thankfully we were not hurt.
Footnote 15 December, 2014
We bought a General Electric motion sensor alarm from the Chinese electrical store in Papindo, a suburb of Kokopo (opposite Ela Motors). It takes AA batteries and small round ones (easily bought everywhere) and cost about $50 Australian.
We put it in the cockpit facing aft and it works very well. Should stand us in good stead in the bigger towns further north and in the Philippines. A great investment.