On Wednesday, November 13 SY Explorer, on passage from Trinidad to Puerto La Cruz, was boarded by pirates 5nm from the Venezuelan coastline on approaching the Paria Peninusula. Here, courtesy of noonsite.com, skipper Robert (Bob) Jackson reports on this frightening experience…
We are a couple Bob (74) the captain, an American, and Hella my mate (71) who is German. We sail a 44 foot Norseman and are currently based in Trinidad. We completed a 15 year circumnavigation in 2010.
I sailed to Puerto La Cruz from Trinidad about 20 years ago so I knew the route. Hella and I had discussed specific responses to an armed attack.
A few days ago the vessel Joana and ourselves on the boat Explorer cleared out of Trinidad bound for Puerto la Cruz, where I intended to go to get my chain galvanized there being no facility for that service in Trinidad. Diane and Wade on Joana were making the same trip and were looking for one or more boats to “Buddy Boat” with as we are all aware of the danger in the region we would be transiting.
We met the captain Wade of Joana at least two times before we departed to discuss the route, the precautions and the details of the buddy boating plan. The details were as follows: we were to sail beam to beam approximately 100 yards apart and it was the obligation of the faster boat to adjust their speed to match that of the slower boat. I specifically brought up that subject at the time of our meetings, explaining it in detail to the captain of Joana and he agreed. He added to this discussion the fact that if one boat was being attacked the other could ram the pirogue and deter the attack. We agreed to monitor channels VHF 16 and 71 continuously.
We spent the night in Scotland Bay in Trinidad and left at 7.30 am the next day. Wade led the way out of the bay but being a bigger boat and faster, gradually pulled ahead of us by a distance of approximately 2 miles. Since it was so early in the trip we had not yet communicated with Joana by VHF. We were occupied in getting control of our boats in a very sloppy sea created by strong currents. Prior to leaving Trinidad we had agreed on a specific route and waypoints, and we hadn’t even reached the first waypoint when we were attacked. We followed the route as discussed with Joana at the meetings.
We were about 10 miles west of the tip of the Paria peninsula and 5 miles offshore at 10.30am in the morning when we were approached by a pirogue with a 75 horse power motor with five men on board. They were on us in seconds with drawn revolvers, with one man remaining with their boat. I was below at the time doing navigation work and had no time at all to arrange for the deterrents that we carry for such an event. We had hardly cleared the safety of Trinidad waters when the incident occurred. We were not expecting anything to happen so soon.
At the time of the attack Joana was completely out of sight. At no time during the attack did I hear anything on the radio from Joana. Our radio was working well but we could not transmit because the pirates had hacked off the microphones to both the VHF and the SSB. When they did start calling me on the VHF I heard them loud and clear, but that was 15 minutes after the attack and we were already heading back to Trinidad. The implication from the report that “Joana” put on Noonsite was that there was something wrong with our radio. That is not true, our radio was working perfectly before the microphones were hacked off.
To continue reading Bob’s report visit www.noonsite.com