Contents

See a link to Piracy & Security Reports 2019 at the bottom of this section.

While these pages are grouped under “Piracy & Security”, they mainly relate to yacht security (in some cases piracy) and include reports on security incidents against yachts and cruisers since 2008, suggestions on basic precautions and security related reports.

Use the above links to review the past years of worldwide security incident reports from cruisers. This is not intended to be an all-encompassing list of all crimes against yachts in the World, however, may be an indication of your relative safety in a particular country and need for extra precautions.

It is ALWAYS prudent to lock the yacht when you leave for a trip to the shore, for a visit to another yacht, or at night when sleeping. Your dinghy and outboard should be treated like you do your car. Lock both at all times with a robust chain and padlock and always raise both out of the water at night.

In addition to reporting an incident to Noonsite, it is also important to report to the local authorities. Only if they know what is happening in their jurisdictions can they take steps to stop the activity and to apprehend the criminals.

Piracy and Security Reports 2019

General

Remote Monitoring for your Boat.
Barnacle Systems have developed a smart-home for your boat. By installing the BRNKL you can monitor the critical components of your boat, detect intrusion, or simply look inside with the onboard camera. Find out more.

No other danger has marred the beauty of cruising more than the threat of piracy, whether on the high seas or in coastal waters. Indeed it is a risk that mariners have had to confront for many thousands of years, and continue to do so in certain areas of the world today. Piracy incidents on pleasure boats in recent years have been mercifully few in numbers and restricted predominantly to the Gulf of Aden region, Venezuela and more recently the Philippines.

Gulf of Aden / Indian Ocean Transit

The High Risk Area (HRA) is an area within the UKMTO designated Voluntary Reporting Area (VRA) where it is considered there is a higher risk of piracy.

See MSCHOA’s Advice for Sailing Vessels.

Following an industry revision in early 2019, the Indian Ocean High Risk Area (HRA) has been reduced and the new co-ordinates will take effect on 1 May 2019. See this report for details of the new geographical boundaries of the HRA.

The HRA and VRA are displayed on the regional UKHO Maritime Security Chart, Q6099, available from the UK Hydrographic Office (https://www.admiralty.co.uk/maritime-safety-information/security-related-information-to-mariners).

There is now a new recommended maritime security transit corridor in the Red Sea (MSTC), basically elongating the IRTC. The MSTC is comprised of the IRTC in the Gulf of Aden and the western lane of the TSS in the Red Sea. See https://combinedmaritimeforces.com/2017/09/06/guidance-on-maritime-security-transit-corridor/.

All yachts should be using it.

The coordinated efforts of the Coalition forces and International Maritime and Political bodies have had a very dramatic effect on the levels of piracy since 2011. It does appear that with the decrease in pirate activity over the last couple of years there has been an increase in the number of yachts making a Red Sea passage. Noonsite has received reports (see bottom of page) from yachts that have transited the HRA since 2015 on their way to the Red Sea and Med. Some transit independently, others in convoy, and some with private security firms on board. Many make the passage without incident, however others encounter suspicious activity and threats and reports continue to come in about pirate activity in this area.

If you are considering making the trip north through the Red Sea to the Med, it is perhaps more apposite to consider the route a yacht might take to avoid the area of civil unrest in the area. Direct routes from the Maldives to Suakin in the Sudan and Dibjouti have been made without encountering any problems and have avoided the potentially dangerous coasts of Aden and Eritrea. The West coast of Yemen is considered particularly dangerous and should be avoided.

Note that the maritime authorities are more concerned with attacks on commercial shipping – attacks on pleasure craft not being high priority, or even their responsibility. They continue to publish warnings for pleasure craft considering a GOA/Indian Ocean transit.

Registering your passage

Two counter-piracy organizations monitor and advise shipping in the region. They are UKMTO and MSCHOA (see listings below). A yacht/leisure craft which, despite the advice to stay out of the HRA decides on such a passage, is strongly recommended to register its transit with both organizations as they enter the Voluntary Reporting Area.

Details of the e-mail address, contact numbers, and forms needed to register are listed in the Counter-Piracy publication BMP4. This can be found at http://bit.ly/2ifzmAu. Annex G to BMP4 gives advice for leisure craft – including yachts. There is also information on how to register below (see listings).

Once registered, if you do not have a satellite tracking system such as AIS, you will need to e-mail or phone in your position each day and your progress will be monitored. UKMTO recommend the use of a satellite phone because of the poor mobile phone coverage.

In the event of a suspected pirate attack in the Indian Ocean, issue a distress call over VHF Channel 16, telephone UKMTO on +971 5055 23215 or +442392222060. Follow up any call with a UKMTO After Action Report.

Other World Areas with Security Concerns

Venezuela

Cruising here needs to be approached with careful planning. The outer islands which once offered quiet cruising, are now out of bounds as is the mainland in the current political climate. See http://www.noonsite.com/Countries/Venezuela for more details.

Philippines

Both the US and the UK governments have advised against all travel to south-west Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago due to the high risk of kidnapping of international travelers and the increased threat of maritime kidnappings against small boats.

There are persistent rumours about the danger of pirates in the south of Mindanao and the Sulu Sea and yachts generally avoid this area. General advice seems to be to stay away from the Southern PI, including South Palawan and be careful heading between PI and Malaysia.

A well-known marina on Samal Island near Davao in the southern Philippines was stormed by armed men in September 2015 and four yachties were kidnapped. Two of the captives were executed and two were released.

A German cruising couple were abducted by the same terrorist group, Abu Sayyaf, in Sulu from their yacht in November 2016. Jurgen and his partner, Sabine Merz, were attacked resulting in Sabine being killed and Jurgen taken hostage for ransom demands. Jurgen was held for 3 months and executed in February 2017 when the ransom demands were not met.

For details see Noonsite – Philippines.

Mediterranean

Turkey requires caution principally in the big cities and towns and areas of public interest/public gatherings. The coastline itself – which is substantial – is still being cruised by many but of course, with an exit strategy planned in advance should they need it. See http://www.noonsite.com/Countries/Turkey for more details.

The migrant crisis, once most prevalent in the Eastern Mediterranean, has now encompassed the Western Mediterranean Sea particularly between Morocco and Spain. Full details of the current situation including a list of emergency numbers to call if a migrant boat is spotted can be found at: https://www.noonsite.com/Countries/Spain/mediterranean-cruising-update-regarding-the-migrant-crisis.

Caribbean

The Caribbean Islands have several Islands where overnight anchorages should be selected carefully.

Boats on passage between Grenada and Trinidad should be aware that on several occasions over the past few years vessels have been approached, boarded and robbed, and most recently shots have been fired, by pirates in the area around the Hibiscus Gas Platform. All yachts transiting these waters should submit a float plan to the Trinidad & Tobago Coastguard. See this report for details on how to do this.

South Pacific

Papua New Guinea requires careful research before deciding which areas to cruise and there are definitely more populated areas and some island groups that should be avoided. However, it’s still possible to enjoy safe cruising here if you pick your route carefully. See http://www.noonsite.com/Countries/PapuaNewGuinea for greater detail.

Last updated: April 2019

The following contacts are for piracy-related organizations and websites worldwide.

Caribbean Navigator

Caribbean Safety and Security Net

IMB Piracy Reporting Centre

International Maritime Organization (IMO)

Malaysian Waters: Royal Malaysian Navy Marine Emergency Response/SOS/Incident Reporting app

Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa (MSCHOA)

NATO Shipping Centre

ONSA – For Maritime Safety in Venezuela

Red Sea Passage Facebook Group

UKMTO (UK Maritime Trade Organization) (RN) Dubai

Piracy & Suspicious Incident Reports

Convoys

Noonsite has a forum for convoys and cruising in company – go here to access the forum. Remember when posting a message to include location and direction in the title (if a convoy, ie: north or southbound). It is also useful to include in your forum posting yacht details, average speed under sail and motor, details of crew, proposed route and dates, present location and a contact email address.

There are a number of convoy related articles linked to this forum, as well as being listed below under “reports”.

Gulf of Aden Convoys

Tom Sampson, who organized a 27 boat convoy in January 2010 through GOA, comments;

“The need for a convoy as an added form of security against piracy attacks is questionable. When the convoy of 2010 became so large (never intended) then it was hoped that coalition forces might offer some assistance – which they did not. I would not advocate the use of a large convoy and a convoy of any size would not provide security against pirates. However, it would offer mutual support between those in the convoy but this, of course, would apply to any passage of any duration”.

Roger Hill of SY Equanimity organized a 3 boat convoy with a security team onboard each boat from the Maldives to Sudan in April 2015. Read his report here.

Last updated May 2015.

General Services

Dryad Maritime

EOS Risk Management

Guardianage.com

MAST

Maritime Vital Asset Protection, LLC

Securewest International

Reports

Last archive of old reports and removal of out of date reports undertaken April 2017.

Trinidad & Tobago Waters – Yacht Security: How to File a Float Plan

Malaysia: Sailing through Eastern Sabah and Borneo with a military escort

Gulf of Aden: An exciting transit with welcome support

Update for Red Sea Passage and Cochin India

The Recent History of Somali Piracy

Entry into the Red Sea via the Gulf of Aden – Our Story

Gulf of Aden: Attempted Piracy – February 2018

Solomons and Papua New Guinea – Security Considerations

Is it safe to cross the Indian Ocean and transit the Red Sea to the Mediterranean?

Transiting from Maldives to Djibouti in March 2017

Somalia – Sudan – Red Sea – Suez (October 2016)

Family Sailing through the Indian Ocean High Risk Area (2016)

Red Sea to the Seychelles

Passage through the GOA and up the Red Sea: March 2015

SE Asia to the Med in Convoy through the Gulf of Aden

Maldives to the Red Sea: Travelling solo through the HRA (High Risk Area)

Gulf of Aden & Red Sea Passage – January 2015

Securing your boat from intruders

Somalia: South African cruising couple finally FREE plus Their Account of being Held Hostage

An Alternative to GOA and the Red Sea: Desert Sailing

Cruising SE Asia – Security Tips

To sail the Gulf of Aden is like playing Russian Roulette

Treat with Extreme Caution – Convoys & Rallies through the Indian Ocean

Hostage – By Paul & Rachel Chandler

Potential new trend in pirate tactics in an area of the Red Sea off Eritrea

Notes on the Organisation of a Convoy

Useful Precautions if Cruising in Pirate Infested Waters

Pirates, Costs and Baksheesh for the Red Sea Passage

Super Convoy March 2010 Evaluation

Island Theft – Our Thoughts

20+ years sailing in the Caribbean: An insiders perspective on security

The Use of the AIS System

Piracy: a strategy against the worst cases

Convoys As Protection: Do They Work?

Links

Troubled Waters – The Global Price of Piracy
Article by Towergate Insurance re. how piracy has changed over the years – June 2015.

CSSN Precaution Resources

Caribbean Safety and Security Net

Preventing your dinghy and outboard from being stolen

Protecting yourself from boat theft

Tamarisk – Round the World