Trinidad: Attempted Piracy on Passage from Grenada – August 2016

Three men in a pirogue approached a cruising boat on passage and acted in a threatening manner.

Published 7 years ago, updated 4 years ago

As reported by the Caribbean Security & Safety Net.[Broken Link]

DATE: 2016-08-02

Country Name: Trinidad/Tobago

Location Detail: Grenada-Trinidad passage

EVENT: Attempted piracy

Stolen Items: None

Three yachts left Grenada the afternoon of August 1st, bound for Trinidad. A float plan was filed with TTCG/NPR and Jesse James.

The reporting captain attempted to call North Post Radio (NPR) and Trinidad Coastguard (TTCG) on two separate occasions on VHF 16 during the voyage but did not get a response to either call.

The first call was to NPR at approximately 1600, from a position about 5 miles south of the Grenada coast. The second call was to TTCG between midnight and 0100, about 3 miles directly east of the Hibiscus platform. The captain is confident his radio was working properly, he had made contact with the other yachts in the passage group (VHF 71) and also with the marina on arrival (VHF 16 and 72).

During the passage to Trinidad, he was able to listen to North Post Radio and heard them monitoring and conversing with other vessels.

After passing 3 miles east of the platform the yacht continued due south.

The next morning (August 2nd) at approx. 0630, his yacht was motor sailing at about 3 knots and located 10 km northeast of Boca Monos. The 2 other yachts, Buddy Boat 1 (BB1) and Buddy Boat 2 (BB2), were about 1 nm further east (BB1) and 2 nm further south (BB2).

The yacht was approached by a white pirogue with 3 men onboard. The men in the pirogue spoke English and there were no fishing nets or any fishing gear in the pirogue. The yacht captain went to his starboard rail with his handheld VHF and in full view of the pirogue called the nearest buddy boat (BB1) to tell them what was happening. He describes the situation:

  • The general attitude of the two men who spoke was aggressive and angry. With much shouting and waving of arms in the general direction of Trinidad – it seemed to me that they were telling me to slow down and not go any further ….the noise level was high since this was happening as they approached with their engine and our engine noise making communication indistinct and hard to make out initially. There was no doubt in my mind that this was not a friendly encounter.
  • The pirogue pulled up alongside on our starboard side and tried to get as close to my boat as was feasible. Two men were standing and one tried to hold on to the hull of my boat but the sea state was too rough and they pulled away about 1 meter.
  • One of the men shouted across to us in an aggressive manner – asking what “sea area are we in?” – I replied that we were off the coast of Trinidad
  • He then shouted across, pointing ahead…“ what is that Island..?” – I replied “Trinidad.”
  • The second man then shouted across “what is that …” while gesticulating at the passage ahead …I took it to mean that they were trying to point out the Boca – I replied Boca Monos
  • I updated BB1 on the situation, using my handheld VHF. This seemed to increase the agitation of the men in the pirogue.
  • BB1 immediately turned directly towards us.
  • Our VHF communication would have been audible to the men in the pirogue. They were obviously annoyed that I was speaking to someone. They were not asking directions, the conversation was heated; aggressive; menacing. There was absolutely no doubt that the “directions” were a ruse, we were being sized up.
  • The men had a conversation amongst themselves and pulled away at high speed. They went eastwards in the general direction of BB1.
  • They did not make any further approach to any of our vessels.
  • We updated BB1 and BB2 and all 3 vessels continued towards Boca Monos.
  • We did not attempt further calls to the coast guard at that time.

All three yachts arrived safely in Chaguaramas later that morning. The captain contacted Jesse James, who arranged and attended a meeting the next day with the TTCG Fleet Commander, where an official report was made.

Based on details described by the reporting captain, TTCG indicated that the pirogue was likely from Trinidad.

Follow up with Jesse James indicates that TTCG/NPR has assured him that they will continue to patrol the area and try to improve their communications.

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