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Panama, Punta Chame: Yacht boarded and robbed by Armed Men - November 2012

By Val Ellis last modified Nov 28, 2012 09:34 AM
Contributors: Arnd & Bente of the SV Narwal
Punta Chame is about 20nm South West of the Balboa Anchorage.

Published: 2012-11-28 09:34:38
Topics: Piracy Reports 2012
Countries: Panama

Posted 27th November 2012

We are a German family cruising with 2 children, 3 and 6 years old and returned from the Galapagos Islands in July. We don’t own a fancy
boat, as ours is an old 40 ft steel lady.

It all happened on our lonely anchorage between Punta Chame and Isla Taborcilla on Nov. 12th 2012, at position 8°39,60N and 079°43,80W.

Around 9pm two launches with powerful outboards (like most fisherman use when they go fishing in this area), pulled alongside our boat. My
husband was reading in the front and our children were sleeping in the back cabin, so I went outside to see what was going on and one of the men asked me for some drinking water. Not an unusual request from fishermen; sometimes they may ask also for some fuel or cigarettes, or they just want to trade or sell some fish. Just the time was unusual. So I agreed and went down to get a bottle of water when I heard steps on the deck. My husband heard them as well and got up but one man was already rushing down to the salon, a pistol in his hand, shouting, looking for drugs. When he arrived at the front cabin the second man with a pistol pointing at us entered the salon and we were trapped between the two. A third guy with a pistol in his hand looked down from the companionway and a 4th person was in the cockpit.

They were screaming around and asked us for money, which we gave them directly. We acted passively because what can you do, when 3 men are pointing guns at you? We sat in the salon, observed by one man, watching the 2 others pulling out clothes and other stuff, looking and searching around for more valuables, which of course they found and took. The financial damage comes to around 8,000 US$ but they didn't hurt us in any way and didn't disturb at all the sleeping children in their cabin.

After around 15 minutes they just left and we called Flamenco Signal who contacted the coast guard for us. They arrived at early dawn, did
a short investigation and advised us to go to the local police and to the one in Panama City, which we did one day later. In Panama they did
a more thorough investigation on our boat, asked a lot of questions, took many pictures but if they find out anything we'll have to
see.

We were cruising in Panama for about 10 months on the Caribbean and Pacific side and never had any security problems, met mostly nice,
friendly and helpful people, enjoyed many lonely anchorages, beautiful scenery and remote islands. We will transit the canal in 2 weeks back to the Caribbean side and this event leaves a bad taste and overshadows a bit our good experiences these last months.

These 20 to 30-year old, athletic guys now know what easy targets we cruisers are and what they can earn in just a few minutes without
taking many risks. We'll have to see what will happen in Panama in the future. As we were not hurt in any way, we are now able to move on and deal only with the financial loss. It's like we were watching a bad film that we now slowly forget about.

Bente & Arnd and the children Siri & Lars

SV Narwal

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