Caribbean Security for Cruisers

Recently, several serious security events against yachts have occurred in the Caribbean, including Tobago and in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. These unfortunate and scary events have brought security issues to the front of most cruisers minds. When these events occur, we all want to know exactly what happened, how/when/where and why it happened, all the while hoping that we can prevent the same from happening to us. Getting timely, accurate information about incidents is the critical first step in the process, and makes it possible to assess and evaluate (and perhaps change) our own behavior and preparedness. This is not a new phenomenon.

Manage Risk:

The Caribbean Safety and Security Net (CSSN) was started by dedicated, volunteer cruisers (back in 1996!), as a daily HF voice net to share accurate and timely information about security issues, at that time primarily dinghy thefts. Although technology has changed much about the way we communicate, the basic need for timely, accurate information is unchanged, and it is why CSSN continues to this day. What CSSN hopes to achieve is to keep cruisers advised, allowing them to be better prepared, making informed decisions while they enjoy safer cruising.

CSSN accomplishes this in two distinct ways; Harm Brink on S/V Horta hosts a daily high frequency radio (HF) voice net on 8104 KHz USB at 0815 AST with a weekly summary every Sunday; and the CSSN website ( has a wealth of reported incident data which is available to everyone, including guidance as to where there are other safety and security resources of interest to cruisers.

CSSN Just Got Better:

As a result of a User Survey conducted earlier this year, The CSSN team have made many important changes to the way they work, and many more are planned. They are working hard to make CSSN and its resources more visible, more relevant and timely, and easier to use.

Take a minute and explore the CSSN website which provides:

1. Recently updated general precautions and passage checklists, developed with input from cruisers – those who have been there, and (in some cases unfortunately) done that.

2. Access to current and several years of historic incident data which is now updated in near real time on the Island Reports page, where you will also find a new sort tool, making it easy to get the information you need.

Report! Report! Report!

The CSSN team is working hard to help all cruisers, from crusty old salts who have visited every island and every anchorage, to those new to the region, even part-timers on charter. They strive to help cruisers make informed decisions but cannot do it by themselves; there is a shared responsibility within the cruising community, and everyone must help.

If everyone helps, and accepts the personal responsibility for reporting events to CSSN, then accurate and timely information will be gathered, retained and shared widely. CSSN maintains strict confidentiality of the names (boats and people) of those involved or reporting incidents, but maintains them on file to ensure there are no duplicates.

The yachting community as a whole can support CSSN’s efforts by ensuring incidents are reported – first person is always best, so if you are a victim, make a report. If it happened a while ago and you never reported it, do so now.If you hear an incident reported on a local VHF net ask if, and where, it has been reported. Encourage and support victims and remind them of the value and importance of their experience to other cruisers who follow in their wake.

There are several ways/places to “report”. You can complain and gossip at happy hour or on the VHF, it feels good, but does it make a difference and have a lasting impact? Maybe, but probably not. You can write an article for Caribbean Compass magazine, it will be widely read in the Caribbean. You can submit a first person report to Noonsite’s piracy page,, which has a worldwide audience, is archived, and where first person narratives often contain valuable lessons learned. You can post it to your blog, or facebook, and reach that audience immediately, but likely not in an enduring or lasting way, and not accessible or known to those planning to visit or new to the region.

To reach a broad audience interested in Caribbean security for themselves and their boat, and preserve the knowledge and learning, submit reports to CSSN. It is the ONLY comprehensive, archived, centralized information source for Caribbean crime against yachties, updated in near real time and it’s easily accessible to all.

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