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Yacht Attacked At St Vincent

By doina — last modified Jan 04, 2008 02:35 PM

Published: 2008-01-04 14:35:39
Topics: Piracy Reports 2007
Countries: Martinique , St Lucia , St Vincent & the Grenadines

Steve Jones has sent Noonsite the following account of a violent attack on his wife and himself while anchored off St Vincent in the Caribbean on December 23rd 2007:

"My wife and I were cruising in St Lucia and the Grenadines this Christmas on a chartered Dufour 385 from Marin in Martinique. We made a passage south as far as Mustique, before returning north back to Martinique during a 2 week vacation. We anchored for the night in Chateaubelair on the North West coast of St Vincent, which is the last good anchorage before making the passage north to St Lucia. Doyle’s Windward Islands Cruising guide (2003-4) describes the anchorage as a “dream” in settled weather. Local people are described as being “naturally friendly in the nicest way”. There was one other large yacht at anchor, but was probably about 150m away from us in deeper water. The weather was very settled and hot, the night was clear and there was a full moon. At 00.30 on the 23rd December we were boarded and viciously attacked by 3 armed men, 2 with machetes and one with a hand gun. The boat was secure except the front cabin hatch, above our sleeping area.

"The men attacked me with some considerable force - leaving 6 minor cuts, 3 lacerations on my back and 2 head wounds that required stitching. After an initial struggle I was held with a knife to my neck in the front cabin while my wife was taken into the main cabin by the other 2 men, they demanded money and also took a watch and mobile phone. They left a laptop, binoculars and cameras etc which were all in open view.

"They were extremely aggressive and in the 20 minute ordeal, threatened to kill us and rape my wife, dozens of times. They finally, for reasons not clear to us, left very quickly and suddenly making their escape by rowing boat, disappearing into the darkness.

"They took approx $1000 in various currencies - Euros, US Dollars, and Caribbean EC's, plus a watch and Nokia phone. However I'm sure as always in these situations, the financial loss, compared to the stress and emotional scarring is completely irrelevant. We felt lucky to escape with our lives.

"We spent almost 13 hours with the police, coastguard and CID during the rest of the day, who were all very concerned, and were extremely kind, polite and helpful. They took the attack very seriously and guaranteed (as far as they could) to do all they could to bring the attackers to justice and to stamp this out immediately, very clearly concerned with the damage this and other reports will do to their yachting (tourist) industry.

"Whilst with the police we learnt of 2 other similar attacks in the last few weeks, and although they wouldn't tell us any details of where and when, I understand we got off in terms of injuries quite lightly compared to some of the other victims.

"My strong advice would be for all yachts to:

  • Consider for the time being avoiding St Vincent totally, making the passage direct from Bequia to Soufriere in St Lucia.
  • Definitely avoid Chateaubelair.
  • Take extreme caution in Cumberland Bay and other West coast anchorages.
  • Wallilabou is safe(ish), although a gang of 20 plus armed men raided the bay recently and stole 6 dinghies and outboards in one night. They went prepared with wire cutters and other tools.
  • Young Island and Blue Lagoon in the South are generally thought to be safe.

The St Vincent Coast Guard left us with a very good advice guide of how to prevent and what to do in the event of such attacks.

St Vincent Coast Guard Advice to Yacht Owners

Take extreme care all around St Vincent.

Safe sailing,

Steve and Katherine Jones