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Further Information On January Attacks On Yachts

By doina — last modified Mar 20, 2008 04:44 PM

Published: 2008-03-20 16:44:48
Countries: Venezuela

(These attacks have already been reported on Noonsite but we are adding them for further details.)

At about midnight on January 12, 2008 American Nomad was boarded by three pirates one armed with a shotgun and two armed with pistols. There were some 60 boats in the Porlamar Isla Margarita Venezuela anchorage at the time of the attack. There have been many boardings in Porlamar. To our knowledge this was the sixth time that one of those boardings escalated to a pirate attack since 2003.

The skipper woke up with a shotgun to his head. The companionway had not been locked. At gunpoint the crew of two were robbed of all of their money. In addition the pirates stole a number of other items including a knife and a cellphone in plain view. The skipper was taken into the cockpit, made to sit with his head between his legs and a shotgun was put to the back of his head. He was interrogated. The skipper was terrified that he was about to die.

The pirates did not appear to be the least bit afraid of the Police. They were concerned that the skipper might have a hidden firearm that he could use against them when they made their escape. Hence the interrogation.

After the pirates made good their escape the skipper put out a Mayday on the VHF radio. A local shoreside friend and business owner called the Police on the skipper’s behalf. The Police did not respond that night or in the following days. The description of the lead pirate was the same as that of a pirate responsible for another pirate attack in next door Pampatar Isla Margarita a year ago. There was no Police investigation and to no one’s surprise the pirates again got away with it.

Over the years we have visited Islas Los Testigos Venezuela several times and they have been wonderful visits. There have been some dinghy thefts over the years but no serious crime against cruisers. The large Guarda Costas station there offered us we felt some measure of security.

On January 26, 2008 that all changed when five armed men attacked a boat on Islas Los Testigos. This was the first such attack to our knowledge in these islands.

The islands comprise a number of anchorages used by cruisers. The victim boat was anchored in a bay with only one other boat. That boat was not close. Armed with a flaregun the skipper tried to scare off the boarders. He was shot twice once in the stomach and once in the back. The pirates left. The skipper saved his boat.

The skipper’s wife called for help and received assistance. The victim was evacuated by a Venezuelan fishing boat to Isla Margarita for treatment. The pirates escaped.

Both of these incidents were reported on the Porlamar VHF Net one of them by a victim.

Kris & Sandra Hartford, s/v “Nomotos”