Deterring Pirates: Personal View

Published 17 years ago, updated 5 years ago

I have never cruised offshore on a small pleasure craft for any great distance. But I have been a merchant seaman on bulk cargo and passenger vessels. Upon reading these piracy accounts and my intention to cruise about a 60-65 foot sailing vessel offshore, I have a few suggestions which may or may not be of value.

Remember you are the experienced offshore yacht cruisers, not me, so I am just thinking out loud. I would appreciate your responses.

The incidents seem to fall into several categories:

a) Cruising certain coastal areas at various distances offshore, day and night.

  • is it possible to go out of your way and simply stay farther offshore than even pirates would go?
  • flotillas seem like they may be a simple necessity in certain areas in future.
  • for those who don’t like real guns and have a big enough vessel, use your Hollywood prop skills and build a fake large calibre you can stick out a porthole, or a deck-mounted machine gun out of wood and pipe. Slap it together like Lego blocks before needed, it fools moviegoers, so might work with pirates.

b) Anchored during daylight hours with the dinghy floating alongside or owners gone to town.

  • secure the interior of your vessel and then electrify the top rail, lifeline or the companionway hatch/handle. Just enough battery voltage so they can’t hold on. Maybe install a remote control so you can activate and see a light come on to verify when you are in the dinghy, pulling away.

c) Anchored while asleep onboard in the cockpit or below with hatches and companionways open and unsecured.

  • same as above, electrify plus add a rheostat by your bunk, so persistent borders can be discouraged by a varied jolt. Install motion sensors at crucial points on deck so a bird doesn’t activate them. Set this up so it also turns on spreader/very bright deck lights along with a very loud siren/horn, warning or typical police sound system.
  • for warm climates put man bars on hatch openings, but have a deadlight you can instantly close and lock from inside, if they try to cut through… versus a weapon to probe up at the intruder. remember the intruder could also dump gasoline in and force you out with fire…etc, etc.
  • set up booby traps on deck, as simple as an obvious mechanical lever that looks like a grab rail on the cabin top which you can, release from inside and rotate 360 degrees from inside, with great force.
  • buy one or more taser guns, pepper, dog, bear sprayers, a fire extinguisher etc, etc and mount them in crucial face height areas, with a simply designed firing mechanism you can activate from a distance. For example mount a taser gun facing forward concealed behind the companionway steps, that you can activate from another area in the saloon.
  • I will carry several flare guns strategically located.

I am not a qualified gun handler but intend to become trained to be, before we head offshore. I would rather have one or more aboard and have the last resort option, to save my families life if absolutely necessary.

  • Conceal a last resort emergency VHF and set up your SSB to be easily concealed also, in case they destroy others.

Don’t worry, someday when I meet some of you offshore, I will assure you that all the traps are disarmed when you board with good intentions for dinner and drinks.


Billy Graham

[email protected]

March 2007

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  1. February 21, 2019 at 5:36 AM
    Data Entry says:

    I love remarks like “yachts that return firee with real firearms generally don’t get boarded.”