Ideas For Deterring Pirates

The following messages are the personal opinions of the contributors only and posted on Noonsite in order to reflect the range of opinions regarding this subject.

Published 12 years ago, updated 4 years ago

Posted 2004

From S/V Firefly

While I believe in the right of self-defence – and the absolute duty of self defence against those who threaten the lives of others – I have a suggestion that may help cruisers avoid the kind of confrontation that requires self-defence: If you have an inboard engine, mount an automotive or marine windshield washer tank with internal 12v motor in the engine compartment. Wire the 12v motor to the battery system and to a switch at the helm. Mount a fitting in the engine exhaust manifold to allow the contents of the tank to be introduced in a small metered amount to the manifold. (You may want a check valve or manual valve if you have water exhaust, and you definitely want the metal pipe to avoid heat damage to the hose. Some kind of vibration-tolerant flexible hose could be connected to the metal pipe some distance from the manifold.). Fill the tank with anti-freeze.

When you suspect you are being approached by a pirate, start your engine, turn upwind, and when the manifold is good and hot start introducing squirts of anti-freeze into the manifold. Result: A smoke screen so thick a pursuer wouldn’t be able to see his hand in front of his face. There will be times the wind direction will be such that no cover will be provided by this, but it seems to me any pirate in pursuit is likely to disengage because he doesn’t know what is going on and doesn’t know what he might be getting into.

From Bruce Haynes

My dream is to do extensive sailing beginning in about 5 years. I have been reading about the piracy problem and wonder if there is a forum somewhere that discusses ideas for deterring pirates. I realize the best thing is to avoid the bad areas but that is not always possible and you never know who you might run into in so-called safe areas. Here are some ideas… maybe not real bright but wonder if they would do any good and if anyone has had success with others they have tried.

1: Mount motion detector lawn sprinklers (act like wild rainbird type sprinklers) (set of 4 or more would be necessary to cover entry points to a vessel. Pressure tank would handle initial activation then the pump would come on to handle extended action. Oil of some sort could be injected into the water to make all surfaces very slippery not only on the boarded vessel but on the vessel that brought the pirates. These sprinklers keep deer out of gardens and are very annoying to people who wander into their motion detector path. The motion detector could also trigger a series of devices also mounted to cover entry points that would emit such a noise that no conversation or yelling could overcome them making instructions to fellow pirates impossible.

2: In ski areas, they use air powered launchers to propel a 2.2lb explosive charge to trigger avalanches. A person could make up a 2-inch pipe and using some valves could rig to a scuba tank for a weapon that could shoot a projectile over a 1000 feet.

3: You see pirates coming, so you coat as much of the boat as possible in a light grease or oil. In the meantime, you put on felt-soled shoes that won’t slip on the oil and put in earplugs so you can handle the over-amped heavy metal rock band blaring in your outside speakers.

So these are a couple of last-ditch ideas that would probably get you killed but at least it might be fun to try?

Ron Llewellyn of Australian Yacht “SULA” writes:

Personally, I believe in the might of the gun and in known areas, I always travel armed. In an incident, (reported), of Indonesia in 1999 a boatload of fishermen were deterred from boarding my yacht when I produced a rifle. As I travel solo the situation would, perhaps, have been far different if I had not been armed. I also carry “Molotov Cocktails”, a simple but very effective device which can be used against a vessel which tries to ram you or come alongside. I have these made and ready to go.

It is important that, if boarded, the pirates cannot get below decks. All my hatch openings and companionway are fitted with “man proof” bars. While I am sleeping I can still have all the hatches open for full ventilation but no one can get inside and surprise me. I also carry a short spear about four feet long. This allows me to stab at anybody trying to cut or remove the hatch bars without getting too close. Grease the end foot or so of the spear to stop anyone grabbing it. A sharpened screwdriver fitted to a piece of metal tube works well.

A powerhead, “bang stick”, (used for killing sharks), fitted to the end of a short speargun effectively gives you the power of a firearm at close quarters. A lot of countries do not regard these as a firearm and they do not need to be declared as such. .303, .30, .357 are all suitable for firing off a spear gun.

WARNING. Do not fire a 12 gauge shotgun power head of a speargun.

My last thought. It is better to carry a gun and not use it than to not have one when you really need it. “The bigger the better”. A .44 Magnum beats a right hook every time. If all yachts carried firearms maybe pirates would get the message and leave them alone.

Posted 2007

Reading some ideas about the defence against pirate attacks my (professional & experience) pressing advice: think it over before you show arms or resistance.

The point is that you have to judge your opponent in a short time. Some pirates are simple thieves that will flee easily if you show a gun or any other gear that could harm. But some are real professional criminals and you will lose the battle. Think about what happens then. And if you are armed are you ready and trained to kill. And if you knock them out what trouble can you get when the police (sometimes their friends) shows up.

My remarks are no remedy. But think it over. If you have to deal with the profit gang pirate you lose. They have faster boats, more and better arms, no scruples. And if you have women or/and children on board do not take any risk. Collect as much info as possible and stay out of certain areas (coastal and straits!!). Avoid anchoring at unknown places (bays) and do not allow strangers on board. Think it over in any case.


Posted September 2008

I plan on getting a Sailing vessel again some time, but I would like to share my previous experience on this matter.

I had a 47 feet cold moulded vessel with the stations therefor isolated. My option was on taking a MEPS System and connect it pos. and neg. on the guard rail with positive on the top as well as earth in the water. As you know most of the times these guy has wet feet, and on touching these stations/railing they get the shock of their lives (dry or wet). But as you would know wet is better.

We had a couple of rigging shudders at night in the Caribbean in mid 1994 to 1996, meaning someone tried to board and pulled on the rigging and let go. Over and above that we do not know about the times we were not on board.

There is a legal side to this when one is berthed to the dock where children might make a wrong turn.

The maps system is used for farming purposes, and the average system produces 8 JOULES and 6000 to 9000 volts per pulse per sec from a 12-volt battery. This system can be charged with a solar panel and believe me, it does give quite a shock. By mistake I had some personal experience in rainy weather and ballerina danced to get on my own yacht at times. Eight joules is the limit in South Africa.

Thanks and I hope to be of assistance to my fellow cruisers.

Stephanus Botha

Posted January 2012

Carrying a firearm on board may be worth more trouble than its worth but has anyone considered a modern compound archery bow?

Modern compound bows are very powerful with a considerable range and can be very accurate given practice.

I don’t see it being used once you’ve been boarded or at close quarters but if you needed to keep someone at a distance it could be very effective.

Obviously, if that someone has a firearm then it becomes a different situation but I don’t think a bow requires the type of paperwork and regulation that a firearm requires.

The bow could also be used for fishing and passing a line at distance.

Fil Brown

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  1. February 21, 2019 at 5:10 AM
    Data Entry says:

    Why not lighting large firecrackers on side or aft deck?
    Axel Verlohr

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