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Rio Dulce: heading for safer waters

By Val Ellis last modified Feb 20, 2009 09:27 AM

Published: 2009-02-20 09:27:21
Topics: Piracy
Countries: Guatemala

Appalled by the tragic killing and robberies occurring last year in the magnificent waterways of the Rio Dulce in Guatemala, local businesses have been taking action since November to rid themselves of the criminal element on the river and make it safe for the long range sailor.

Armed Naval Police Patrol boats are now operating 24/7 river patrols for the Rio Dulce.

The area covered extends from San Felipe to Mario’s Marina. The patrol, funded by donations from key Rio Dulce businesses and INGUAT, the Guatemalan tourism agency, consists of six Naval policemen, an officer and a boatswain petty officer.

The boat, CG 275, is a 27-foot Boston Whaler with twin 225 hp engines. The boat and two patrolmen are on the water 24 hours a day, seven days a week patrolling the areas near the bays and channels of navigation with priority given to taxpayers but not excluding all those who sail and occupy the banks of the Rio Dulce.

The Coast Guard will be on VHF Channel 16 all the time to meet emergencies. To reach them, call Guarda Coasta, Rio Dulce followed by your boat name.

The responsibilities and mission of this detail are:

  • To ensure the safety of boats anchored in the sector.
  • To ensure compliance with the rules of international navigation in particular in terms of navigation lights and anchor.
  • To ensure that the navigation channels as well as access to the anchorages and marinas are free of obstacles to navigation and
  • To monitor the movement of boats, excessive speed, as well as the age of operators and general safety of vessels and crew.

Eleven companies are financially supporting this effort.

One of those businesses is the RAM Marina & Yacht Club, situated on the river and a location where boats can be left during the cyclone season. Richard Monstein has so much faith in the safety of the river now that he has just moved there with his young family from the USA, and he is very positive about the future.

"I am not attempting to make light of the tragic events in the past," he told Sail-World's Andrea Treleaven in an email, "but forward change is real, and we have more crime in parts of California in a single day then happened in one terrible week in Rio Dulce in the last thirty five years. I neither have nor will make no excuses for selfish and senseless crime, but these events are truly the exception and not the norm for this Fresh Water Harbor!"

Last year Roy and Michelle on Dream Odyssey were boarded, bound and robbed while anchored just metres from two buddy boats, who heard nothing during the incident. Just a few weeks before, Dan Dryden had been murdered while anchored in Monkey Bay with his wife Nancy on their boat Sunday's Child.

Richard Monstein and his fellow business people are working hard to make incidents like these a thing of the past.

by Nancy Knudsen 8:31 PM Mon 16 Feb 2009 GMT
Courtesy of www.Sail-World.com

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