Caribbean, St. Vincent: Violent Night Boarding of a Yacht at Anchor

A sailing vessel that was anchored in Buccament Bay on the west coast of St. Vincent, was boarded by two masked men who tied up the solo sailor and ransacked the boat.

Published 1 year ago

Source:  Caribbean Navigator

CSSN Report

First hand report

Location of the attack in St. Vincent.

The incident happened at about 0230 on 16 January, and was reported first hand to Ken Goodings of the Caribbean Navigator Facebook page.

The owner and sole occupant of the boat was asleep in the forward berth but woke up to find himself being choked. He initially struggled even though the assailant was much younger and more powerful.

However, there was a second assailant who was holding a gun, so resistance stopped. The owner was blinded by a cloth over his head as the the thieves ransacked the boat.

They took all the valuable electronics, phone, personal computer, camera, etc.  They demanded cocaine and money. There were no drugs but the owner cooperated in handing over a significant number of American dollars.

The thieves tied up the owner and were going to take the dinghy and motor. However, it was suspended in davits and chained to the arch, so they must have decided it was too difficult and left it.

Once they’d gone, the owner untied himself and notified the police. No arrests have been made (as of Jan 18).  A buddy boat was anchored close by.

Notes from a further conversation (January 18) with the reporting vessel’s skipper:

  1. The vessel’s cockpit was illuminated by a solar LuciLite.
  2. The boarding occurred on their second night at anchor in Buccament Bay.
  3. The skipper had locked up the vessel on the first night, but feeling more comfortable with the situation, had left the companionway closed but unlocked on the night of the attack.
  4. Both vessel’s crew had visited and toured ashore the day before and had acquainted themselves with many St Vincentiens living in the area. The islanders were unhappy to hear about this violent armed robbery.
  5. The two assailants reportedly stole a small fishing boat from a nearby bay bay to access the two anchored yachts.
  6. From the reporting skipper:
    Q. Did the attackers flee due to any action on the part of your buddy boat?
    A. No. The thieves actually went to their boat first and (they) awoke and confronted them. They said they were fishermen looking for some water, at 2 am! X and Y thought they’d left, and they did, but they returned. Y tried to contact me (VHF), but I slept through her calls.

NOTE from CSSN Report

The thieves had attempted to board the other yacht earlier the same night, but were not successful when the owners awoke and were able to discourage the two men. VHF calls to their buddy boat (victim above), were not answered.

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  1. January 21, 2022 at 12:13 PM
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    sue-richards says:

    Some good advice from Ken Goodings of Caribbean Navigator FB page:

    The recent violent night time boarding of a friend’s anchored yacht brings to mind some simple, basic preventative overnight security measures that cruisers have adopted in past years. This in no way implies that he did anything wrong, or that he was lax in any way.
    Every island in Eastern Caribbean, to one degree or another, has some level of risk of theft and the potential of a person sneaking aboard your boat whether you’re sleeping in your berth or exploring ashore.
    One may reasonably expect that overnight stealth boarders are often terrified out of their skins, and quite possibly high as well when they commit to coming aboard your yacht. A real sense of fear may cause this person to act in a wildly unpredictable manner.
    Petitioning the local authorities and yachting centres is one thing, but If you’re going to boycott these places you’ll soon run out of places to drop anchor.
    We’ll leave the topic of locking security bars and other security measures to another day.
    Other than having a yappy dog on board, arguably the very easiest thing to do is to simply discourage someone from creeping onto your darkened yacht in the dead of night. A completely blacked out cockpit may be logically more attractive to a stealthy boarder.
    Note: Yappy dogs may act unpredictably. Our friends were boarded and beaten up while their two hyperactive Jack Russel terriers cowered silently; giving no alarm at all.
    – A permanently mounted 12 volt bright light will effectively illuminate your whole cockpit. Solar patio and LuciLites are often quite dim and can stop working just when you need them most.
    We often enjoy the serenity of star gazing from the darkened cockpit while sipping our favourite beverages. But when we hear our bunks calling us, we always switch on the cockpit lamp before going below decks.
    There are also several modern motion-triggered 12volt security floodlights on the market.
    – Leave your VHF on overnight. Set the audio volume completely down if Ch-16 or C-68 chatter disturbs you.
    Making use of the Red DSC alarm button will loudly alert every boat within 25 miles of your problem and your exact position. They will call out to you on C-16
    If you haven’t enabled the DSC system on your VHF radio, review your radio manual and set it up without further delay. It’s not necessarily the police or coast guard who can get to you first; more likely it will be a yacht crew in your own anchorage who can help. In any event, a VHF DSC alarm is so painfully loud that it cannot be ignored by other yachts.
    These two simple overnight security strategies have been well publicized after a savage yacht boarding at Frigate Island near Union Island in SVG in 2013
    That being said, there are hundreds of incident-free yacht sailing days all year round in Eastern Caribbean. But most experienced cruisers take at least some of these basic precautions anyway. When you think of it, taking basic security measures when overnighting in an anchorage is no different than practising reducing your sail area before a squall.
    Keep your ears open and keep in touch with island happenings via the CSSN safety net and the various island FB groups.
    “Don’t be the low – hanging fruit!”