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Firsthand Report Of Pirate Boarding In Porlamar Venezuela

By doina — last modified Mar 27, 2007 11:19 AM

Published: 2007-03-27 11:19:48

We respectfully submit the following account of our recent pirate attack in Venezuela for posting.

On December 4, 2005 at about 10:45 PM with some 85 boats in the anchorage we were robbed in Porlamar for the second time. Our circumnavigation was started in September of 1996 and is almost complete. In all that time we have only been robbed twice.

This time by three to four pirates in their 20's. The pirates were in our cockpit pounding on our companionway doors, screaming "Garda Costa" and shining a large spotlight in my eyes. Awakened out of a sound sleep and not thinking too clearly I at first thought that it was a legitimate boarding by the authorities.

Two pirates with rusty automatic handguns forced their way below decks. Describing the guns to people who know guns they guessed them to have been either 22 or 32 caliber - not that it means much looking down their barrels.

The first one below deck was drunk and barely in control of himself. He pointed his gun in my face and demanded drugs and money. I told Sandra to go forward and close the forward cabin door. The second rather calm pirate came down and controlled me with his gun.

The first gunman went forward and started to kick down our forward cabin door. To calm the situation I told Sandra to open the door. While she sat on the bunk in her underwear the first gunman rifled our forward drawers and cabinets.

Sandra was amazingly calm and in control of herself. Given the out of control first gunman I felt that calm and cooperation would be the best course of action.

I gave the second gunman all of the money that I had in my wallet (about $65.00 U.S. in Bs.). He demanded more. I told him that it was all we had. I showed him an old out of date credit card that I keep for just such a purpose explaining that we used it to get money from cash machines when we needed it. We learned a long time ago to carry very little "show cash".

The pirates also stole the 12 volt power supply for our computer. They likely had no idea what it was but they stole it anyway. They also stole our 35 MM "Minolta" camera.

The forward gunman started to remove our small forward TV when his buddies outside screamed Policia and they all took off. I followed them outside as they fled in a dark hulled very high prow rather short penero with a very large outboard. They fired off one shot.

Luckily the pirates were not very bright. There were a lot of things exposed that they could have easily taken but missed. It could have been a lot worse for us.

As soon as the pirates were gone we set off our alarm system and called for help on our VHF. German "Antonia", American "Piper" and French "Jotake" all offered assistance. There is a "Police Boat" stationed at the "Power Boat Marina" in Porlamar with three cops rotating duty 24 hours a day. Unable to raise the cop on duty on the VHF radio we went to the "Power Boat Marina" to find him.

The cop had turned off his marine VHF radio, his Police frequency portable radio, his cell phone and was asleep aboard a large powerboat. There was nothing the cops could do we were told. It had taken so long to find the cop and wake him up that the bad guys had gotten away. The cop made us feel that we should apologize for having disturbed him.

The forward gunman had not worn gloves and had touched a number of plastic fastener envelopes as well as our small TV. His fingerprints were on our boat. The cop refused to visit our boat to either file a report or to investigate.

We feel that we can identify one or both of the unmasked gunmen. From a pirate boarding a week or so earlier of another boat in Porlamar we had a complete description as well as the registration number of the penero likely used by the pirates in our attack.

This was all presented to the Police the next morning when I filed a report at "Marina Juan". For a variety of lame reasons the cops said that there was nothing they could do.

We were not prepared for a pirate attack in Porlamar. Had we been prepared we would have handled the attack better. Having circumnavigated nearly around the globe we pride ourselves on doing our homework.

When we arrived in Porlamar we specifically asked if there had ever been a pirate attack in the anchorage. We were told there had been none. After our attack we were told by a cruiser that there had been five in the last three years. We presented this information and repeated our question. This time instead of none we were told that it might not have been as many as five.

Nothing would likely change in Porlamar if a cruiser was knifed, macheteed, shot or even murdered. Things would likely change if the cruiser money went elsewhere.

KRIS & SANDRA HARTFORD

s/v "NOMOTOS" - CANADA

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