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Old 04-15-2007, 09:32 AM   #1
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Hello. I've only been sailing for a year, and I charter for the time being.

However, I do have dreams and one of those is to sail around the world. Talk of pirates has captured my imagination. Until recently I was primarily concerned about heavy weather, mechanical break downs, financing the journey, mono hull v. multi hull, boat type, boat length, learning foreign languages, falling overboard, getting sick, diet and excercise, navigation systems, navigation, critical v. non-critical spares, mail delivery, cell phone coverage, sea sickness, West Nile Virus, any other virus, and food poisoning....the normal stuff.

1. Is piracy a real problem for cruisers? I'm real late (thier voyage is coming to an end) but I've read the Bumfuzzle Adventures from cover to cover and it sounds like piracy is a very rare. They did have encounters with fishermen looking for cigarettes and a potential piracy/sketchy situation with some characters in the same area but they were easily ran-off.

Any statistics on the number of cruisers that transit this area v. the number of pirate attacks?

Any correlation to length of vessel v. pirate attacks.

Any correlation to convoys v. single transits and pirate attacks?

(For any lurking pirates please skip to question #3)

2. What are the currently recommended anti-piracy best practices? From what I understand:

a. Traveling in groups is inconclusive.

b. At night, run without navigagion or other lights.

c. Guns as protection, debatable and may escalate a bad situation into a deadly one.

For cruisers would the following be worth looking into?

d. Smell . Would phospherous bombs (like kids use for pranks or worse???). Prior to being boarded bust a few of these in your boat to make it smell bad enough that it would deter pirates from boarding for long? Granted, you would be dealing with a bad smell for a bit but better than being robbed or killed...

e. Tear Gas? :icon_boohoo1: (I'm not sure you can even buy this for civillian use) Put on a gas mask, and deploy tear gas in your boat prior to or as you are being boarded by potential pirates?

f. Smoke. With diesel engines could you employ smoke generators to provide a smoke screen, possibly concealing your retreat, confusing the pirates, and helping the navy see your location?

3) Weather. Is it possible to avoid severe weather while circumnavigating. From the Bumfuzzle trip reports it seemed like they could wait for good weather, or sneak into a port in most cases to avoid it. Were they lucky?

Thank you, and I hope this doesn't sound to stupid!

Mike
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Old 04-15-2007, 10:00 AM   #2
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Hi Mike,

Welcome aboard and enjoy your stay. Nice "meaty" question.

There have been a number of discussions here about piracy. Do a board search (link at top R/H side of page) for pirates or piracy and you will find a number.

One is: http://www.cruiserlog.com/forums/ind...showtopic=3205

Also search for "guns" or "armed at sea" - (this is a VERY contentious issue by the way).

As far as weather is concerned, circumnavigators sail with the trade winds and are governed by "seasons" around the world. You will get bad weather at times of course, but cruisers should not be in a hurry to sail (unlike a race that starts on a certain date) so a good understanding of weather (and report sources) is important.

I'm sure others will be along shortly to elaborate further.

Fair winds.
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Old 04-15-2007, 11:23 AM   #3
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Piracy is a problem!

So is a shark attack, getting hit by a bus whilst crossing the road, falling from a skyscraper or getting hit by a passenger airliner whilst sitting at your office desk.

BUT.....It is nowhere near as frequent a problem as getting killed by a drink driver on his way home from the bar, being bitten by a venomous snake, being shot within 1 kilometer of your home or being attacked by a mugger (if you live in the US) ....and the odds of being attacked by pirates is infintesimal by comparison to the odds of sinking your boat over a reef.

I do not wish to make light of piracy but it seems to be more of a concern for pre-cruising sailors than for those who are engaged in voyaging as a lifestyle. And, just as it would be stupid to not consider the risk of shark attack when sailing in warm currents off the coast of Africa or Australia, so it would be irresponsible to not consider the possibility of piracy in parts of South East Asia, India or the Middle East.

Sensible precautions such as sailing in company when sailing through known 'hot-spots' are just as intuitive as looking out for buses before crossing the freeway.

Please be aware that piracy, though an infrequent occurrence, does occur; but please don't worry about it any more than you worry about crossing the road with the knowledge that you have taken appropriate precautions to minimise the risk.

Best wishes

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Old 04-15-2007, 04:49 PM   #4
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Say "piracy" and most people immediately imagine: swords, skull and crossbones, Jolly Roger, blood and mayhem.

The definition of piracy: Practice of a pirate; robbery or illegal violence at sea, or: Robbery committed at sea, or (stronger words, here): an act of robbery esp. on the high seas; specifically : an illegal act of violence, detention, or plunder committed for private ends by crew or passengers of a private ship or aircraft against another ship or aircraft on the high seas or in a place outside the jurisdiction of any state.

Somebody stealing your snorkeling gear out of your boat's cockpit is piracy.

One problem that I see is that the news media writes extremely dramatic reports of piracy.

For this reason, piracy reports, which cover all acts of theft on the water, need to be interpreted. Furthermore, the majority of acts of piracy are committed against commercial shipping. For a good reason. The cargo is large and valuable. Even when it is not the cargo, many cargo ships carry a great quantity of cash in the ship's safe for paying crew, baksheesh, whatever.

In some places of the world where there is a breakdown of law and order in a country, lawlessness spills over to the sea. Indonesia, for example, has always been a difficult country to administer due to its ten thousand islands and the historical corruption of its government. Recently there have been incidents of aggression on private yachts. The same holds true for recent problems in the Philippines, Somalia, the Middle East, and Venezuela. The country's own inhabitants are usually the most vulnerable, and heedless land-based tourists probably the second most vulnerable. Boats come in a very distant third.

In our 20 years of cruising outside the US, from the Caribbean to SE Asia, we had so few problems that we never locked our boat unless we were to be gone overnight.

Most thefts occur when the owners are not on board, and weapons and violence are the exception, not the rule.

If you do check out the other threads regarding piracy and guns on board, you'll find links to some of my reports of danger, pirates, etc.

You will find, as you travel, that the bad places are pretty well-known. Some can be bad one year, very good a couple years later, and switch back.

The reality of cruising, and living on board a small yacht, is that it is very difficult to safely stow a firearm or other defensive weapon and yet have it immediately available. Having welcomed so many of the locals onto our boat wherever we found ourselves, I cannot imagine greeting them with a weapon on the extremely remote possibility (in our case, not once in 17 years) that they might be thieves or thugs.

Another reality is that outside the US there aren't many places where anybody is going to come to your rescue, so avoiding problem areas is the most prudent course of action.

I don't advocate traveling at night without navigation lights.

Weather. Now there's another issue. Depends, I think, on where you are going to cruise. Within the "milk run" across the S. Pacific, for example, one can generally watch for weather windows for passages, and the weather is generally pretty calm within the two Tropics lines. From the Americas to first landfall takes anywhere from 3 to 5 weeks, however, and there is no accurate weather forecasting that far in the future. One usually times passages based upon the general weather patterns for the time of year with the least severe weather. That information is available from pilots, the BA "Sailing Routes of the World", and "World Cruising Routes" by Jimmy Cornell. You don't make long passages during cyclone/hurricane season; you really should be out of the hurricane/cyclone zone during that season.
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Old 04-16-2007, 05:20 AM   #5
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Good luck with your trip.

In my humble opinion:

1. No.

2. Don't go to high risk areas. And if you have to transit one, a convoy that sticks together will reduce risks.

3. Yes.

Cheers

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Old 04-16-2007, 09:11 AM   #6
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Welcome aboard Mike,

The board has a limit on the number of quotes one can place in one post, so I highlighted your concerns in blue, with my response in black.

Talk of pirates has captured my imagination.

It does for everybody and more often than not that is what it is; imagination.

Until recently I was primarily concerned about heavy weather, mechanical break downs, financing the journey, mono hull v. multi hull, boat type, boat length, learning foreign languages, falling overboard, getting sick, diet and excercise, navigation systems, navigation, critical v. non-critical spares, mail delivery, cell phone coverage, sea sickness, West Nile Virus, any other virus, and food poisoning....the normal stuff.

It seems to me, that is where a cruisers focus should lie, studying, planning ahead, planning for contingencies, preparing, equipping and provisioning, doing country studies of destinations and knowing the customs and entry requirements.

Any statistics on the number of cruisers that transit this area v. the number of pirate attacks?

In my studies so far, I have formed opinions:

1. There is no central collection agency that compiles statistical facts on documented pirate attacks.

2. There are hot spots around the world noted for piracy, which lack in personal security in general, on land or sea.

3. The hot spots have some things in common, may have a lower standard of living, maybe lacking in stability, punctuated with corruption.

4. Such areas are not noted for keeping or publishing statistics.

Any correlation to length of vessel v. pirate attacks.

Not that I have read. One can speculate that smaller yachts maybe easier prey, or that larger ones have more expensive booty and more of it. Of the isolated incidents of piracy I suspect the victims were in the wrong place at the right time, and simply targets of opportunity. Much like being in the bad part (noted for trouble) of any large city.

Any correlation to convoys v. single transits and pirate attacks?

From what I read there are pros and cons of traveling in convoy.

Some think convoys provide "security in numbers", which is a deterrent to an attack.

Others think convoys are easier to spot and present a more lucrative target.

I believe a convoy makes better sense. If the bad guys can see a collective group of yachts, they also see each individual. They spotted you anyway.

Most reports (fact or fictional) are attacks of a single vessel. I never read a report of a successful pirate attempt against four or more vessels.

2. What are the currently recommended anti-piracy best practices?

Be knowledgeable of the hot spots. Most are not desirable tourist attractions anyway. Avoid them, don't go there. There are so many more, nicer, kinder, friendlier, desirable, safer destinations.

a. Traveling in groups is inconclusive.

Maybe. I provided my opinion about convoys.

Other things are conclusive, having "street smarts" for example. People acting with ignorance or in stupidity (on land, air, and sea) usually end up in some form of trouble, the best of which get nominated for a "Darwin Award".

b. At night, run without navigagion or other lights.

Barring the recent questionable report of a prop being stolen from a yacht by one governments' navy, I never read of a pirate attack at night. On the other hand there are numerous documented cases of night time near misses and collisions. I think as a rule, operating in black-out is foolish.

c. Guns as protection, debatable and may escalate a bad situation into a deadly one.

True.

Guns and to Arm or Not, are already well debated. Do a search for those topics.

So as not to confuse you, you will find in some of my previous posts I took the side of "pro gun", since I have changed my position to neutral. I am not anti-gun either.

It seems those with more experience are less inclined to arm, and vice-versa.

For cruisers would the following be worth looking into?

d. Smell . Would phospherous bombs (like kids use for pranks or worse???). Prior to being boarded bust a few of these in your boat to make it smell bad enough that it would deter pirates from boarding for long? Granted, you would be dealing with a bad smell for a bit but better than being robbed or killed...


Maybe.

You may need a lot of them.

I had this idea for a catapult hurling buckets of rotten fish..... but it has some design flaws Just as you stated, the good guys have to contend with the terrible smell to.

e. Tear Gas? :icon_boohoo1: (I'm not sure you can even buy this for civillian use) Put on a gas mask, and deploy tear gas in your boat prior to or as you are being boarded by potential pirates?

I'm sure you can buy it somewhere, just visit your local friendly neighborhood illegal arms dealer.

I have seen gas masks in the military surplus stores. The trouble with those is that usually they have been deemed unserviceable. They no longer work. Further you need a source to replace the filters on a periodic basis.

More readily available than tear gas, is mace, or pepper spray and equally effective. The problem with that is it is highly illegal in some countries, just as weapons are. It is conclusive, you will go to prison for having the possession of such.

f. Smoke. With diesel engines could you employ smoke generators to provide a smoke screen, possibly concealing your retreat, confusing the pirates, and helping the navy see your location?

Yes you could. Armies and Navies employ the use of smoke very effectively.

The trouble with smoke is it is easily dissipated by wind, and wind is inherent to sailing. In order to be effective, smoke has to be in the right place, at the right time, in very large amounts. Ideally you would be down wind of multiple smoke generators or smoke pots. You could ask the potential pirates to assist you with that. Likely your mast is going to protrude from the top of the smoke cloud. Small amounts of smoke work against you and tell the enemy, "here I am". The pirates may think your engine needs an overhaul, and that you lack reliable auxillary propulsion, making you an even greater enticement.

If there is a professional Navy in the area, they knew where you were last week, and every minute since. If a yacht wanted to communicate with the Navy, a radio would be much more effective than smoke signals.

3) Weather. Is it possible to avoid severe weather while circumnavigating. From the Bumfuzzle trip reports it seemed like they could wait for good weather, or sneak into a port in most cases to avoid it. Were they lucky?

It is very possible, but requires study, knowledge, and awareness of the current of forecast.

I also read everything I could find about the Bumfuzzles, but have not yet found a log or a diary. I can not comment if they were lucky or smart. My congratulations to them on their accomplishments.

I think it is important that a cruisers schedule remains flexible, delaying in shoving off, departing early, or altering course, based on weather patterns, and forecasts. You may have read about the Ken Barnes Solo circumnavigation attempt, incident, and rescue which occurred a few months ago. He was attempting to set a record which consisted of, solo, direction, departure location, and speed. With time and distance being a higher goal than consideration of weather, he ended up in a very bad situation.

Thank you, and I hope this doesn't sound to stupid!

You are most welcome. Your questions do not sound stupid at all. Just the opposite, I think it smart for considering these things and asking about them. I hope my insight and opinions were helpful.
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Old 04-16-2007, 09:57 AM   #7
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Try googling 'piracy reporting centre'

There are a couple of reporting bureaux which serve the maritime industry. Not a lot of info on private/pleasure craft, but it is a good place to start your research.

Cheers

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Old 04-16-2007, 11:27 AM   #8
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For smoke screen I hightly recommend a Volvo Penta.....
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Old 04-16-2007, 01:54 PM   #9
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Smoke screen...Aahh, the Charismatic plume emitting Volv...I remember it well. Well said Francis

Hooooever....A fleeing sailboat will sail either downwind or on a broad reach.

It will do so at a slower speed than true wind.

It will most likely reach the dizzying speed of anything up to, say...6 knots.

Most pirate-type-dudes will be in a motor boat.

Mostly they will have a planing hull....

....ergo, they will be a plurry lot faster than the clever skipper on the sailboat with the smoky donk, whose smoke is moving away from the boat wot is making it, more quickly than said boat can manage.

Blackbeard, will see the smoke screen then as a wonderful signpost advertising the almost exact position, speed and bearing of the very slowly fleeing sailboat, being steered by the sweaty guy with the stinky duds.

Smokescreens would be t'riffic for a higher speed craft which doesn't possess a radar paintable hull or rigging profile (circa 1941..Mid Atlantic ocean Kurt Jurgens, Robert Mitchum et al...PER-FECT!!!)...but will be almost, nearly, pretty well absolutely, totally useless in any other situation.

Sorry...I'm still jet-lagged

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Old 04-16-2007, 06:04 PM   #10
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OK, the first thing to do here us to define piracy. In national law there are certain to be definitiones which wil vary from state to state. We can not take into account the laws of al states so here the UN definition, as found in paragraph 103 of UNCLOS must suffice.

Article103 defines piracy as follows......

Definition of a pirate ship or aircraft

A ship or aircraft is considered a pirate ship or aircraft if it is intended by the persons in dominant control to be used for the purpose of committing one of the acts referred to in article 101. The same applies if the ship or aircraft has been used to commit any such act, so long as it remains under the control of the persons guilty of that act.

so, now we have to look at article 101 which says......

Definition of piracy

Piracy consists of any of the following acts:

(a) any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft, and directed:

(i) on the high seas, against another ship or aircraft, or against persons or property on board such ship or aircraft;

(ii) against a ship, aircraft, persons or property in a place outside the jurisdiction of any State;

( any act of voluntary participation in the operation of a ship or of an aircraft with knowledge of facts making it a pirate ship or aircraft;

any act of inciting or of intentionally facilitating an act described in subparagraph (a) or ( .

As will be seen from the above, the geographical limitations for piracy, according to UNCLOS, the high seas. In other words, outside the jurisdiction of a coastal state. Accordingb to UNCLOS an act of piracy can only occur OUTSIDE the waters of a national state. Within the waters of a national state, piracy can only occur in accordance with said states jurisdiction. Jeanne's sound practical advice lies woithouth the bounds of international legislation and probably without the bounds of national legislation of most states. She mentions the physical acts but legislation is defined not only by intent or action but also by geographical boundaries. The majority (if not all) so caled acts of piracy take place within the bounds of legislation of a coastal state and therefore are subject to the laws of that state.

Of course this does not help in a practical example. Learned persons can argue until they are blue in the face about what does or does nor constitute an act of piracy. For a cruiser the inportant issue is that his or her vessels remains intact and no one on board has been subjected to any form of attack.

Piracy is an emotive issue. One may believe that the theft of a vessel's equipment whilst at anchior is piracy. Well, it is not (depending upon national legislation). In Sweden, for example, such an act is theft and nothing else, unless it concerns life-saving equipment.

Let us assume here, for the sake of simplicity, that by piracy one means any act of theft, violence, robery or such like at sea.

Firstly, piracy is a rare occurance. Yes, you will find many occurances of fishermen looking to trade cigs. for fish or even bum something else off you. They are very poor and , in their eyes, you are very rich so it is not unusual that they want to ask you to helpm them. The vast majority are honest, hard-working, men who see the opportunity trade something they have (fish) for something they desire (cigs.).

Regarding statistics, the physicist Lord Kelvin is reputed to have said: "When you can measure what you are speaking about and express it in numbers you know something about it; when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind." As we can not satisfactorarily define piracy, except upon the high seas, then we can not either present accurate statictics in relation to so calle dpiracy. We have therefore to accept that pout knowledge is, indeed, of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind.

Regarding the second question, I can not reccomend running without navigation lights. I am of the opinion that the risk of being run down due to not carrying lights is greater than the risk of being attacked by pirates. As for the convoy system, I would recomend it as , if nothing else, it provides moral support and gives an additional possibility to communicate with the outside world.

As for firearms, there has been much debate upon the subject and I do not wish to enter that debate here save for to say that there is absolutelu no reason whatsoever to carry a firearm unless you are prepared to use it. In theory anyone can use a firearm - it is not dificult to shoot at a paper terget. Shoting someone in the flesh requires far greater comitment (I assume as I have not done it yet and never want to).

As for "chemical warfare", i.e. tear gas and obnoxious smells, these are certainly not going to be very effective in the open air. A vile smelling cabin will not YUstop a determined attacker and tear gas might stop an individual but, unless you have a lot of it, it will not stop a boat load. It may also provoke a boatload of guys to use more effective weaponry.

My advice, sail without weapons. An act of piracy may hapen but it is unlikely. In fact you are far more likely to be robbed on a New York or Johannesburg street than at sea.

Regarding the weather, sail with the trade winds and you should not experience really hard weather but avoid the seasons for revolving tropical storms.

I have spent a lifetime at sea and in my experience the worst issues are those of weather. On a 14,000 tonne ship I steamed into typhone Rose in the Taiwan straits. We headed into the winds for three days and were blown backwards 80 N.M. We survived with a little damage but in Hong Kong a number of vessels whioch chose not to put to sea were blown ashore and a host of tall buildings were brought down.

In the words of the first captain I sailed with, "Stay at sea laddie as your real problems occur ashore".

Aye

Stephen

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Old 04-16-2007, 09:09 PM   #11
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My comment to someone who expressed somewhat fearful surprise to my remark that bad weather offshore never worried us much, and that I preferred being far offshore to coastal cruising, "there's not much to hit out there, it's those hard bits close to shore that frighten me most."
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Old 04-17-2007, 01:55 AM   #12
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Thank you for the great replies. I'll leave the navigtion lights on and the tear gas, napalm, stink bombs, and machine guns at home.

I'll try to outwit them

I'm sure I'm going to be asking a few dozen more questions over the coming months. So, thank you in advance!
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Old 04-17-2007, 05:03 AM   #13
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LIONS AND TIGERS AND BEARS!

OH MY!

Huricanes and Pirates and Aligators!

Oh My!

Sunsets and Palm Trees and Rum...

Oh My!

Exotic and Easy and Free...

Oh My

The scarriest part is deciding to abandon your career persuits, quitting your job, selling your treasures and and throwing away everything else you've accumulated and waving goodby to everyone you know... knowing they all think you've lost your marbles... Oh My!

To Life!

Kirk
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Old 07-10-2007, 12:30 AM   #14
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My self being VERY new to owning a boat. I plan on not only carring a gun but a arsenal.

I am a pro gun guy. I can not think of a better place for a gun then on a boat in open water. As long as it is in the hands of a responsible trained operator.

I have listened to the priacy thing many times. After reading here and at a few other sites. I am guessing it is not anymore common then in the flying industry.

Only with planes it is the small none lic folks that get the shaft not the com airlines.

I have no piracy stories for you in a boat, but I sure as heck do in a plane. One reason I carry on board my plane now.

I was kinda wondering. Lets just say that a pirate tries to board your vessel. You take the them out and rob them. What kinda trouble could you get into? Would you just be best to kill them and sink them with some lead and log chains and be on your way? Leaving their boat along. Maybe it would be best to clean out all their electronics and such?

I hate to think about it, but I know one thing. Burry the bodies deep.
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