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Yacht Saltaire Robbed in Gulf Of Aden March 2004

By doina — last modified Mar 23, 2007 02:39 PM

Published: 2007-03-23 14:39:44
Countries: Somalia , Yemen

Following is the text of a letter I submitted to the Aden coast guard station in Yemen, following a pirate attack by Somalis that my 1966 Cal 30 "Saltaire" (San Pedro, Calif.) and I suffered six months ago. My apologies to fellow Noonsite readers for not having submitted this previously. Something I purposely ommitted from the letter was that the attackers left the permanent-mount Garmin GPS in place, and they failed to find another hidden hand-held GPS unit and a hand-held ICOM VHF radio. The purpose of the letter was obviously to report what was stolen, not what remained to be stolen. Another interesting detail was that when the pirate leader tried to yank my gold chain from my neck, I told him that it had been given to me by my "wife" (actually my fiancee Marilu); in an act of compassion, he let me keep it along with the Garmin GPS, which I needed for navigation. The attack was definitely a bad experience that will always remain with me, but it could have been far worse. Cheers, Bill Morris

March 11 2004

Commander, Maritime Authority

Aden Coast Guard Station, Yemen

Dear Commander:

This letter regards the pirate attack my 30-foot, 7-ton sailing vessel Saltaire endured in the Gulf of Aden on Friday, 5 March 2004. At about 1800 hours I was motor-sailing at 4.5 knots at N 13 13', E 48 33, approximately 45 miles south of the Yemeni coast, when a wooden dhow, black in color with a wide, yellow, horizontal stripe and an orange plastic sheet on the bow, began approaching my vessel. I made several attempts to turn away from the dhow, but it persisted in blocking my path. At a distance of about 50 meters, one of the three men standing on the raised rear deck fired three warning shots with a semiautomatic rifle. They began yelling loudly and motioned for me to stop and drop the mainsail, and I complied. The gunman fired another shot into the air, and then the three men boarded my vessel, the gunman keeping guard on me in the cockpit while the other two robbed the cabin. They spent 15 minutes going through drawers, clothing, and bags, and removed the following items from my vessel: a Kenwood TS-50S ham/marine SSB radio, a President brand permanent-mount VHF marine radio, a Pentax K1000 camera, a Pentax ME Super camera, a hand-held Magellan 100 GPS, and a wallet with 20 dollars cash. Total replacement cost is approximately US$2,000. The attackers were apparently Somali: they were of African origin and spoke a language other than Arabic. Their motorized dhow was carrying 15 to 20 women and children and appeared to have a maximum speed of 7 knots. The weapon was a military-style semiautomatic rifle, roughly .30 calibre, with no protruding magazine. It had a wood stock with a bell-shaped butt like that of an American M-60 machine gun. The leader carried a knife with an 8-inch blade, which he used to cut the cables to the radios in order to keep the connectors. As the dhow was pulling away, the crew waved and yelled "Bye-bye!" and then the gunman fired a final round over my mast. I attest that all of the foregoing is true, and I remain at your disposal to help you in any way that I am able.


William V. Morris, Ph.D.

Master, s/y Saltaire