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Old 10-17-2006, 10:14 AM   #1
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Default Anti-pirate methods and devices

Last weekend during Buccaneer Days at Catalina Island, a group of us sailors embarked on a heated conversation regarding piracy prevention. Several of those in the discussion had experience with pirates in Mexican waters and the Gulf of Aden. We talked about the pros & cons associated with guns onboard, use of flare guns, dogs, passive responses etc etc etc. I was especially fond of the Barret 50 Caliber long range rifle…but everyone felt that was far too extreme and asking for trouble in every port. Probably so…

As a result of it being Buccaneer Days, many of the boats had Herreshoff saluting cannons which they were firing loudly every few minutes and especially early in the morning. I proposed an idea in which one used a winch mounted cannon that looks like a toy cannon as an actual deterrent for pirates. Since these cannons make such enormously loud explosive sounds, I thought it would make a great deterrent. We even envisioned the mounting of a 100mW laser on the cannon just to add to the bravado. With the addition of lead fishing weights, I believe the cannon could actually be used as a weapon.

I would be really interested in hearing some other ideas…
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Old 10-17-2006, 03:06 PM   #2
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I was always taught the best way to 'win' an ambush is not to go into the canyon.

Same is true with piracy.

Lots of great places to sail in the world, so why would anyone risk everything (including getting shot by AK47's if you wave a pop gun around) by going where pirates lurk?

Cheers

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Old 10-17-2006, 05:11 PM   #3
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Well said swagman! I do not carry a gun of any sort, however, if you want to carry a gun, don't make it a toy. Buy big, fast, powerful and be prepared to apologise profusely when you shoot and kill an innocent fisherman.
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Old 10-17-2006, 07:18 PM   #4
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Having been boarded by 'pirates' myself, I think any kind of firearm just escalates the violence. Instead of people possibly getting hurt, there is now the possibility of people getting killed. Look around your boat - is your radio, or the beer in your fridge worth getting killed over? ( okay maybe the beer... )I know a lot of people dissagree with me - but I've been sailing pirate ally (the Mallaca Straits) and the Java sea for few years, and I think it is easier to avoid the problems than fight them off. Keep a good watch - don't look like an easy target - ie. don't walk down dark allies alone at night, Stay out from shore.

Keep in mind most cruisers are fabulously wealthy compared to the residents in most of the areas we sail through - even if we don't think so... A pack of cigarettes goes a long way to making 'pirates' happy...

Account of my 'pirate' attack is at: www.geocities.com/arkayos/pirates.html
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Old 10-18-2006, 03:22 AM   #5
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That is a very interesting couple of accounts and the first time that I have heard of such a method being used by fishermen.

Maybe it is because I was raised in a military family with all sorts of guns close at hand that I have an uneasy feeling being without protection from an invasion of my vessel, my home at sea...be it fishermen or actual pirates. I can't imagine how I would react to someone placing their vessel in front of mine, coming aboard uninvited, aiming a weapon at me or my crew. I don't know if I could passively stand-by while being robbed or a crew member being assaulted.

I may be completely wrong about this, but it seems to me that if you had a means of showing that you had a weapon (real or otherwise) far in advance of allowing the advancing party to come close enough to personally engage your vessel, you could prevent some of the boarding situations that I have read about. Take for example:

http://www.noonsite.com/Members/doina/R2004-09-30-1

http://www.noonsite.com/Members/doina/R2006-04-26-1

If your show of force wasn’t enough to deter the approach, then you know immediately that the approach to your vessel is most likely hostile and you should prepare to surrender the contents of your home or at least stand on deck with numerous cartons of cigarettes and a six pack of beer.
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Old 10-18-2006, 03:37 AM   #6
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This is an interesting experience reported by Chris & Julie last week from Madagascar.

http://www.sailblogs.com/member/cisnecito/
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Old 10-18-2006, 08:26 PM   #7
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In both of the noonesite articles, would the cruiser holding a gun have helped the situation, or made it worse?

And in the case of Chris and Julie in Madagascar, yeah outboards will disappear - and don't expect any help from the locals, or even the police if there are any. (In fact you may find yourself in jail for reporting the theft.) Keep in mind you are fabulously wealthy - and to the locals you can afford to lose a little of the wealth - Think of it as an entry tax, or don't leave things unattended... Many of these families live on 10$ a month. If you saw something worth three or four years salary unattended (say $200-300,000 just for arguments sake) on a beach - would you expect it to stay there very long?

Another thing to keep in mind - In Malaysia, and Indonesia it is a hanging offense to threaten someone with any weapon that has a trigger. That includes Flare guns, Spear guns, Cross bows, etc. And more than one cruiser has lost his boat in Indonesia for being found carring weapons...

Is it all worth the risk?
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Old 10-19-2006, 02:33 AM   #8
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I know piracy is a concern for anyone on the seas. Anyone that says piracy doesnt exist (which I have read on one of these forums somewhere) is fooling him/herself. This arguement can go on forever, but those who feel that they have the right to carry a weapon are not going to change their minds just as those who feel it carrying a weapon will only make matters worse will not change theirs.

Personally, I think that in some cases a show of force would work (those in which the 'pirates' arent really that desperate) but in others... well, then one incident on noonsite where the kid had an AK-47 and a "crazed look in his eyes" that kid may have fired, but the driver may have ran earlier at a show of force. All in all, you would not really know until the bullets started flying or the bad guys started running.

I dont know that there is truly a "safe" place to sail. I worked on a live aboard dive boat for a year in the Bahamas. While we were never approached, there was a motor vessel that was hi-jacked in the cut to Bimini while we were in the area.

We each have to make our own decisions about the carrying of weapons. The laws of the nations that you are visiting have to be taken into consideration.

How about mounting a water cannon on the bow and the stern? You could knock them down, chase them off, but not really hurt anyone. Would the authorities still consider this a "weapon" and confiscate your boat? Maybe if the consider a flare gun?
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Old 10-19-2006, 03:07 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Converted Post'
Originally posted by dnelson

In both of the noonesite articles, would the cruiser holding a gun have helped the situation, or made it worse?
I’m certainly not advocating holding a gun or keeping rifles onboard. Personally, I've concluded as most cruisers have that having a gun onboard is simply a bad idea. I'm looking for ideas for non-lethal deterrents...maybe they don't exist and the best thing to do is steer clear of troubled areas.

However, as you mentioned, cruisers are considered fabulously wealthy in many parts of the world that we want to travel. As can be seen with the fishermen pulling collision maneuvers for payment, how long will it be before every cruising vessel is recognized as a simple and safe payday? Maybe we already are…and we simply need to carry with us spare VHF radios, cases of cigarettes, cold beer and extra jerry cans of fuel (entry taxes). In the case of Mexican and Central American waters, it seems fishermen are looking for bottled water and apparently plan their outing with the anticipation of getting the water they need from passing cruisers. Hard to believe, but reportedly true.

Most likely, the best deterrent is the appearance of complete calm and a friendly welcoming smile.
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Old 10-19-2006, 03:37 AM   #10
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[/quote]

Most likely, the best deterrent is the appearance of complete calm and a friendly welcoming smile.

[/quote]

True! And if you sail in the same waters frequently, it helps to get to know the locals! I remember this incident on a beach in the Bahamas with an "amorous" young lady. During our... rendevous... some of the locals came up to take our things. I hollered at them, one of them recognized my voice and started hooting and hollering and laughing. They did give the young lady's clothes back, but kept mine...
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Old 10-19-2006, 08:42 AM   #11
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Always thought an electric fencer with wire run around the deck area and used with a couple of those 1 million candle power lights and some loud audio hooked to motion detectors could cause a few second thoughts. Shock and awe!

Now--the need to remember to shut it off before you wander up on deck is likely the big downside!
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Old 10-19-2006, 06:59 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Converted Post'
Originally posted by Trim50

Most likely, the best deterrent is the appearance of complete calm and a friendly welcoming smile.
I completely agree. A smile goes a long way, and having a few words in the local language doesn't hurt either.

One cruiser in Malaysia carried numerous cans of mace as a deterrent. Mace is sold in most department stores in Malaysia, and is legal. Not sure this would be very helpful against an AK47 - where a smile would probably work better...
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Old 10-23-2006, 05:24 PM   #13
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From other past forum discussions on this subject there does appear to be an amost global / experience divide on this issue.

Dare I say it - but (and remember this is my opinion from what I've read) most US sailors planning to go cruising tend to argue for arms / self defence.

Most US sailors who have actually gone cruising along with most other nationals, seem to favour no firearms being carried.

Cheers

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Old 10-23-2006, 06:35 PM   #14
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I agree with Swagman. I think partly due to the press coverage of 'Pirate attacks' the threat is greatly exagerated. (No newspaper was ever sucessful by publishing good news) So very few people talk about the thousands of sucessful cuisers, just the horror stories. Given the predominence of bad news, people getting ready for their first cruise get a slanted view of the experience.

Once you've been out there it all comes into perspective.
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