Honduras: Offshore Piracy, 20 miles off Gordo Bank (2nd incident) – January 2017

(January 19, 2017) – As reported by CSSN: Piracy

Published 7 years ago, updated 5 years ago

DATE: 2017-01-19

Country Name: Honduras

Location Detail: Offshore – 20 miles off Gordo Bank (16N/82W)

EVENT: Piracy

Stolen Items: iPads, electronics, clothing, rum

SECURED: Not Locked


Preliminary Report 2017-01-19: Chris Parker has provided the following information from a Weather Center subscribing yacht currently transiting from west Panama to the Yucatan. The yacht was boarded late on the 19th off Gordo Bank by pirates who seemed to be looking for drugs. Finding none, they took iPads, small electronics and rum. No injuries. Detail report expected once the yacht reaches its destination.

CSSN UPDATE 2017-01-26: Victims have provided a detailed FIRST-HAND REPORT:

A 40 ft. monohull sailing from Panama passed over Gorda Banks at night with their AIS turned off. Passing Gorda Cay, they saw several fair-sized fishing boats at the cay. A couple of hours later as they were exiting the banks about 10 miles NW of Gorda Cay, a panga tried to approach but was not able to overtake them, they were sailing quite fast.

The too-slow panga left but the men returned in a larger panga. Seeming friendly, they were fairly young and asked for food. They wouldn’t leave the yacht alone, came close and were thrown a pineapple. They seemed happy and went away. A while later, another panga with several young men caught up with the yacht and asked for liquor. They were persistent but friendly and were tossed a six pack of beer. They also went away seeming happy. Then the third panga with a few men came asking for liquor. They were told they didn’t have any and were tossed a melon. They went away.

Meanwhile, the crew had texted friends using their Delorme InReach satellite texting system, alerting them that they were being pursued and didn’t know if these were just desperate fishermen or pirates. At about 12 noon 4 pangas with a total of about 30 men approached and the crew activated the DSC distress signals on the SSB and VHF. Their InReach contact alerted the US Coast Guard in Baltimore, MD, to the changing situation.

The pirates signalled for everyone to put their hands up as they boarded. The lead panga carrying a man they all called “Boss” came alongside, bumping against the hull, and demanded in Spanish that they stop the engine. Faced with overwhelming force, they turned more into the wind and slowed down but pleaded ignorance as to their understanding of Spanish.

Several men boarded the boat. One had a knife that he continuously tapped on top of the chart plotter at the helm. One of the other men spoke some English and told the crew he wanted his men to go below and “inspect” the boat. He was told that only 2 at a time could go down, but several went down anyway. They turned off the SSB and VHF distress signals and ransacked the boat. They opened every cupboard and floorboard presumably looking for drugs. The English speaking pirate reported to “Boss” and when they found no drugs, the pirates down below took whatever they wanted, the most valuable of which included an iPad, a GPS, foul weather gear and shoes. Oddly, they did not ask for money. The “Boss” told them to finish up and the English speaking pirate made the crew shake hands as if this were a normal business transaction. The pirates motored away, and the crew continued sailing onward.

The crew was grateful that they were not harmed. Official reports to authorities will be made after the yacht reaches the US mainland.

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