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Honduras: Rio Dulce, Guanaja, Sandy Bay - Armed Attack & Robbery

By Sue Richards last modified Jan 30, 2012 02:32 PM

Published: 2012-01-30 14:32:35
Topics: Piracy Reports 2011
Countries: Honduras

Received by email from Jean-Pierre and Brigitte of s/v Ti-Bag

We are Jean-Pierre and Brigitte from the French catamaran s/v Ti-Bag. We have been in the Rio Dulce for about 4 years.

Last year (02/04/2011) we were in Guanaja, Sandy Bay, with about 12 other boats of different nationalities. It was about 2 in the morning, a dark night, when I heard something knocking against the hull. I opened the big front window (baie vitrée) and I walked into the cockpit to see.

I saw a cayuco behind, and two men who were squatted in the descent. They came at me and I just had time to push back the door, but not close it. We fought one moment, them to open, me to close it.

They did not succeed and they passed on the side. During this time we launched cries for help on the VHF and we also screamed for help to the other boats. We turned on the lights in the cockpit and deck lights and I was searching for a foghorn when they pulled the front hatch closures and entered the boat in seconds.

I went towards them, one grabbed my wife and put his hand pressed over her mouth, the other seized me at the throat, reversed on the seat and tried to strangle me while striking me in the face.

I yelled to stop him and that we would give them everything they wanted, but it did not stop. It seemed like an eternity before the second attacker stopped him.

They asked me for our money and I gave them the envelope in which we had put approximately $300 in bills of $100, for such an event. But it didn't look thick enough and they were not satisfied. I should have put the same amount but with bills of 5 or $10 so the bundle looked thicker.

So the second one held my wife and seemed to want to strangle her and had a knife held at her, and I howled that I was going to give them more. I led one of them to our hiding-place and he took a very large sum, but not the credit cards.

I asked them during this time to let us live, I tried to calm them. They bound us then locked up in the toilets. We heard them moving about in the boat and one of them returned 3 or 4 times to hold a knife to my ribs and make sure that our bonds held well.

Then after a while we heard no more noise. My wife managed to free a hand and with a chisel we cut the ties. They were gone. All this took place in 30 to 40 minutes. We woke up the other boats with the foghorn.

In fact they had taken all our money (it was a lot), a computer, some bottles of alcohol, a phone and a bagpack but nothing else.

Around 0730, the police were alerted by people on shore who had been awakened by the foghorn, and they arrived on the boat. So I filed a complaint.

All the boats showed solidarity and announced they were leaving Guanaja.

We did the same, but about 1130, reaching the height of Helen Harbor on Roatan, a VHF call asked me to return to Guanaja to identify the abusers who had already been arrested by police with our objects, but not our money. I accepted because all the people of Guanaja felt solidarity, largely contributed to the arrest of suspects and the foreign residents were anxious that this aggression must not go unpunished for security in the island. And if I had not returned the police would have had to release them.

We could identify only one attacker, the other, with very characteristic rasta hair, was still free. So we left Guanaja again for French Harbor where we arrived about midnight.

Next morning we had to go to Coxen Hole (yes, on Sunday, they were working for us!) where the thief had been brought by plane in the morning and we spent all the day with the police.

On the Monday I returned to Coxen Hole to meet the doctor of the plaintiff about bruises from the blow I had received and the marks of attempted strangulation (I was finding it difficult to speak) and some policemen came on the boat to take pictures and for some more investigations.

At the end of the afternoon, I received a call from a friend living in Guanaja to tell me that the police had caught the second attacker. Immediately after I received a call from counsel for the plaintiff asking me to go to Coxen Hole that morning for the identication. It was indeed the second thief.

Brigitte & Jean-Pierre VAISSIÈRE