Panama, Balboa, Taboga Island South: Cruising yacht at anchor attacked by armed gunmen – March 2014

This nasty incident occurred over a month ago, on March 15th, 2014, however, it’s taken some time to get the facts clear and verified before reporting. The boat owners who made the report have asked to remain anonymous, however, they are keen to warn other Panama cruisers of the possible dangers in this area.

Published 10 years ago, updated 5 years ago

“This morning at 02:30 our vessel (a private cruising yacht on a circumnavigation) anchored at Taboga Island, off Balboa, Panama City, was attacked by three pirates.

“The Captain heard voices beside the boat as we slept and went up into the cockpit. One of the pirates had come aboard whilst being warned not to very loudly by the Captain, waking the other crew members. Five shots were fired from a 26′ vessel (approx) with a black rub rail nearly as high as our freeboard, but none injured our crew despite holes in the fiberglass top sides just inches from where the Captain stood. They appeared young, fit and organized and they were intent on a robbery at the very least.

“We were at anchor with no one else in sight, close to shore in the cut between the two islands. We had arrived at 17:00 the day before and had not been ashore.

“We responded to defend ourselves and the pirates were overwhelmed by the response. The one who had boarded jumped back into his boat when he realized they had underestimated the situation and they fled. There were no other incidents that night as far as I know.

“We left the anchorage immediately and went back to Las Playita de Amador”.

Editor’s Note: This incident took place near the southern end of Taboga Island in an isolated area, not at the Taboga mooring field. Nowhere in Panama should yachts anchor at night in remote areas without being accompanied by other yachts.

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