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On Passage Brazil to Tobago: Suspiciously Pursued off Suriname - January 2012

By Sue Richards last modified Nov 17, 2014 12:19 PM

Published: 2012-01-31 21:30:00
Topics: Piracy Reports 2012
Countries: Brazil , French Guiana , Suriname

Posted 2 February 2012

From SY Impi's Blog
January 2012

Position: 08deg 07N / 54deg 15W (off Suriname/French Guiana)

It started out in the middle of the deep blue ... no sign of land, vessel or person ... Ana came in and told me she could smell "cooking" from somewhere and it definitely was not our food ! I thought that was rather odd, but have learnt in the past to take Ana's sense of smell and hearing very seriously ... so I turned on the radar ... got out the binoculars ... nothing!

A day went by ... nothing ... night came ... I observed a boat ahead of us on the horizon ... full flood lights ... probably fishing ... I altered course to Port ... our Nav lights were on so he could see us change direction.

This guy altered course as well ... bearing and track to meet ours ... I altered a bit more ... he adjusted to intercept our line of travel ... very odd!

Momentarily I glanced back ... swore I saw a light on the horizon ... on and then off ... it was dark and I struggled to make anything out even with binoculars and certainly were not picking these vessels up on radar ...

There it was again ... a light behind us ... on and off ... just once ...

Ana and I felt something was not right here ... I quickly got onto my email and emailed Andrew our position and our intentions of avoidance together with a note to say if he does not hear from us in the next while ... he knows what's going on and could he notify some authority ...

We held our course for a little ... nav lights still shining ...

I asked Ana to switch off the nav lights ... she did ... at which point I turned on the engines, swung Impi around and headed straight out to sea ...

In the distance we could see the boats meet up ... now with all their lights on and there was a bit of a flurry of movement between them... of course we were not there ...

I didn't sleep a wink that night ... Ana also by my side, trying to "snooze" in between. During the early hours of the morning ... there it was .. a light on a boat approaching our stern ...he was gaining speed on us ... @#$%&* !!!

I went downstairs and fetched the flare gun ... a really potent one I purchased at the last boat show in Cape Town ... we were exhausted but now in "Defence Mode" ... ran back upstairs and on to the VHF radio channel 16 ... I called for the vessel approaching our stern to please identify themselves and make their intentions clear ... nothing ... they came closer ...too close ... I called out for any other vessels in the area ... "please respond, over ..." .... nothing .... "Vessel approaching us ... make your intentions clear ... alter course now to indicate you mean no harm ... provide us with sea room ..." ... nothing ....

Ok ... that little adrenaline shot I have spoken about before ... this one was a mother of all shots ... I had to defend Ana, myself, our yacht ... no land in sight ... no other vessels responding ... daylight just broken ...

Back on the VHF ... "vessel approaching, we have to assume your intention is to do harm ... we will have to take action against you ... please alter course now ..." ... they did not ...

I took aim with my flare gun and fired ...unfortunately the flare landed up just short of their bow, but did a spectacular number of skips off the water glowing like a fireball ...I had the next flare loaded and aimed ...

Their engines roared as they turned to port and disappeared like a bat out of hell!

We were lucky ... so were they ... if my flare had landed in their boat and there happened to be a can of petrol around ... hmmmm! ... hmmmmmm!

Friends of ours responded by saying there are fisherman out there who fish for more than just fish ... so... rather to sail "DARK" (without any lights at all).

We took their advice and I must say, felt a lot safer for it.

Brent Grimbeek
SY Impi

Comment Received 24 May, 2012

If you ask me it must be seen as fear taken over on a journey, wich is very understandable. I think some fisherman had a blast of a time by playing with their lights. Never has there been any insult to a yacht before. Only fisherman who do not like their fish space to be taken, might react like this. Do not fear in these waters as they are very safe. If you do not like such a situation, than go way out on sea, that might make you feel better if you so wish.

Mieke Koenraadt

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