Venezuela: Yacht boarded by armed pirates whilst en-route from Trinidad to Puerto La Cruz
Details so far about this attack are scant, noonsite will hopefully have more details from the victims Bob and Hella of SY Explorer about what actually happened to them in due course.
Two Yachts, “Explorer” and “Joana”, left Trinidad Wednesday Nov 13th as agreed "buddy boats" for Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela.
Approx. 25 miles later SY Explorer was 5 miles offshore Venezuela, 10 miles west of the eastern tip of the Paria Peninsula, VZ (near Cabo San Francisco). SY Joana was 2 miles west of SY Explorer and had lost sight of their buddy boat and were unable to reach them on the VHF.
At this position at 11:00 SY Explorer was boarded and attacked by armed pirates. Money and valuable items were demanded and surrendered and the Skipper was beaten. We currently have no information about further possible injuries to either crew member. Other items may have been taken as well.
SY Explorer’s radio communication was disabled by the pirates who cut all the radio mike cords.
Seven hours into their passage, having lost sight of SY Explorer and slowed down to wait for them to catch up, SY Joana were hailed by Trinidad Coast Patrol on the VHF, who informed them that Explorer had had a "pirate incident" and had returned to Chaguaramas.
SY Joana continued safely on to Puerto La Cruz arriving at midday on Thursday 14th November.
SY Explorer returned to Trinidad and was assisted by the Trinidad Coast Guard when they reached the Boca. The injured crew received medical assistance on reaching Chaguaramas, Trinidad. SY Explorer remains in Trinidad, badly shaken and without radio communications.
Wade Alarie of SY Joana sent this report to noonsite:
We had made an agreement with SV Explorer to sail as buddy boats from Chaguaramas to PLC. We delayed our departure for nearly a month to meet the required departure date of Explorer. Explorer was behind Joana as we left the Boca and over the next hour, was at what appeared to be a constant, and comfortable distance. In time, the distance started to increase. We could see Explorer (with the naked eye) setting the whisker pole, changing course and trying to get the best speed. We tried to raise Explorer on the radio but got no response. After 3 hours, they had slowly fallen back and we couldn't even see them with our binoculars - so we slowed down to 5 knots for the next 4 hours. 7 hours into the trip, we were hailed by Trinidad Coast Patrol radio, who informed us that Explorer had a "pirate incident" and had returned to Chaguaramas. Unfortunately, we could garner no more info. We were completely unaware of any threat.
We continued our passage, and ramped up the speed as best we could. We had a completely uneventful trip. We had to use our searchlights a few times and warned fishermen to stay away - and were completely attentive at all times. We have not been able to contact Explorer yet, but feel terribly for what has happened.
It would seem that Buddy boating for security reasons is very difficult to maintain, and may offer little other than an illusion of safety.
Wade Alarie / SV Joana / www.joana.ca
Editor's Note: If planning a passage through a high-risk area with another yacht/s (i.e. buddy boating), careful planning and procedures that all boats agree to adhere to should be agreed before departure: such as communication, route and waypoints, distance apart, response to threat or armed attack, procedure to get help if required etc. A useful noonsite report on travelling in convoy, which has useful pointers for those planning a buddy boat passage, can be found here.