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wolfgang 11-11-2006 09:35 AM

Armed at sea???
Hi everyone. So, Do you arm yourself when voyageing????? Im talking side arm, rifles or shot guns. If so What do you do about outher countrys laws against possing a firearm, If you want to go viset them?

Auzzee 11-11-2006 07:31 PM

Hi Joe,

Unless you are prepared to break the law repeatedly and risk the confiscation of your boat, imprisonment and hefty fines, you should forget the idea of arming yourself with all the hardware you suggest.

Proceedures for declaring weapons in foreign lands are onerous and in many cases result in the weapons being impounded whilst you are visiting close inshore...presumably the very time you may feel the need to shoot someone to death.

Authorities in foreign lands take a dim view of people brandishing weapons against their citizens, irrespective of the circumstances.

Please, do yourself and you fellow cruisers a favour...don't carry arms.

Perhaps if you cannot think to cruise without weapons you should stay comfortably within the borders of your own state. If you search this site, you will find many previous posts on this self same subject.

Best wishes.


Nausikaa 11-11-2006 08:29 PM

Hi Joe et al

I agree absolutely with Auzzee and, even though I have many years experience with weapons, I will never carry one on my boat. Auzzee explained very well the problems and limitations involved in carrying arms. It is just not worth the hassle i.m.h.o.

Strangely enough though, I was just discussing this self same issue with an Australian mate yesterday evening. He has spent many years working as a fisheries officer in the seas north of Australia and he said he would never contemplate cruising in the waters of Indonesia or PNG without an automatice weapon on board.

'You pays your money and yous makes you choice'. My advice, leave your weapons at home.

Bon voyage



wolfgang 11-11-2006 08:51 PM

Thanks Ill look threw the forum.

JeanneP 11-12-2006 12:11 AM

JeanneP 11-12-2006 12:36 AM

I am a bit "gun-shy" about responding to questions about carrying guns. The last fellow who asked me got so very angry with my answer that I figured it was time for others to weigh in. Thank you David, I know you didn't see my reply to that particular question, but your answer is almost identical to mine! Great minds, and all that.

One of my favorite stories. We were cruising around the group of uninhabited islands called "Los Roques", part of, and off the coast of, Venezuela. One day a fishing boat with 3 fishermen came alonside and in their very difficult to understand Spanish indicated that they would appreciate our charging their small automobile battery. We cheerfully agreed because we had electricity to waste; the winds there blow hard and harder, and our wind generator was giving us LOTS of electricity. That afternoon the fellows returned and after we gave them their battery back (they slept in a tent on one of the small cays, and used the battery for a little light at night - their catch was collected each day by a larger boat that could ice it down and transport the catch of all the small boats back to the mainland), they presented us with a beautiful fish, just right for dinner for four, and they apologized that it was such a small offering, but fishing hadn't been very good that day. We told them that there was no need to apologize, the fish was perfect. We had a wonderful meal and thought no more about it.

The next morning, VERY early, Peter heard some bumping and chatter at our bow, and when he came on deck he saw a Venezuelan on our bow, reaching over to somebody, or something, still in the water. Now. What do you do? Shoot the guy?

When Peter shouted "what is going on?" (which these fellows could not understand, of course), the fellow made some indecipherable gestures, but they didn't look hostile, so Peter went forward for a better idea of what was going on. Well, what was going on was the fellow on the bow was trying to bring a HUGE grouper onto Watermelon. His two friends were in their little panga pushing this monster fish up. I had to be called up onto deck to tell the fishermen that the fish was wonderful, beautiful, but far too big for us, and on, and on without rudely saying "take it AWAY!" We never met a Venezuelan fisherman who was anything but sweet and helpful.

17 years, in several anchorages that had never seen a private yacht, had never had a white person visit, and far from any authority. We have never been threatened or had anything but pleasant experiences. Well, Peter's pocket was picked of a few dollars in San Jose, Costa Rica. We had an outboard stolen in Borneo.

We own nothing that is worth as much as a human life.

Nausikaa 11-12-2006 12:33 PM

Dear Jeanne,

Wonderful words and a nice story.

That asside, I was particularly moved by your last sentance. An admirable sentiment which I think too few people share but is no less true for that.

Yours aye



Yachtmaster81 11-14-2006 08:20 PM

Great story and use of words Jeannep!

I believe that a speargun would be a good alternative to a firearm, (which I believe should be avoided) - you can spear fish and if it is needed you can scare off unwanted intruders!

Andy Copeland 11-17-2006 04:05 AM

This topic is a perennial argument. At a BBQ beach party in Thailand in 1989 there were about 16 cruisers and the question of guns came up. 4 American and one S.African carried a firearm on board and all 5 swore that they had needed them and would not be around if they had been without them! The others all were adamant that they had never been in a situation where they felt they needed a gun.

We have never carried a gun and after having visited 106 countries in our boat since 1985 still feel that the downside of carrying a firearm far outweighs the upside. We do take precautions, travelling in company in suspect areas, avoiding notorious trouble-spots and doing research on a country before visiting. Our dinghy and outboard are locked, usually on deck; a metal companionway grating allows ventilation but stops intruders. We used a tape recording effectively of two large dogs barking agressively during our circumnavigation when we were boarded at night in Zanzibar and again in Tanzania. Our only defensive weapon is bear spray, a pepper spray that can be purchased legally in Canada for use on bears but works on the bad guys too.

You will be approached by fishing boats out of curiosity. Many want to give you fish, some will ask for cigarettes or gasoline or offer to pilot you in to their village. Don't threaten them with a weapon, as on boat did recently in Brazil; if you are that paranoid you should stay at home, though you are probably in far more danger in some of our cities than at sea. Remember that in many countries officials are poorly paid, are not stupid and would like nothing more than to find a hidden weapon on your boat. You would then find yourself having to buy back your own boat from a very unpleasant jail cell.

Andy Copeland

Yachtmaster81 11-28-2006 09:08 PM

In support of JeanneP's words, this is part of a log of Jimmy Cornell's (from noonsite) trip from Panama to Ecuador:

"There was a reason for keeping up a good speed as I was trying to pass as quickly as possible through this stretch of Colombian waters. As a precaution, I had set a course that kept me well offshore and only closed with the coast on the fourth and last night. By now I was about 30 miles off the Ecuadorian coast, and signs of its proximity became increasingly obvious. We passed through an area with lots of debris probably caused by heavy rains inland. Dodging uprooted tree trunks in the dark was quite unnerving, but by now the wind had dropped to almost nothing so it was easier to slalom under power. By dawn I was confronted by a new menace: miles of long fishing lines barely marked by floating buoys. Single-handing under these conditions didnít seem so much fun any more, especially as first the keel and then the rudder got entangled with a line. I managed to free the line by pumping up the centerboard or rudder, and as I was peering ahead for clear water, I saw in the distance a boat approaching me at great speed. It looked like a whaler-type boat about 25 foot long with three rough looking guys who, even at a distance, looked quite menacing. There was little I could do but wait and see. As they got closer, they started waving frantically, and once I could also hear what they were shouting, I understood that they were trying to guide me clear of their lines. They shouted to follow them and when we were finally clear of the lines, they waved good-bye and were gone. As they disappeared in the distance the thought occurred to me that here was a perfect example of the dilemma faced by anyone carrying a gun on board: when to shoot? If one waited too long until the intentions of the possible attackers became clear, they might have got too close and using oneís gun may be too late. If one shot at them when they were still at a safe distance, one might end up shooting some innocent fishermen, as in this very case. So, once again, I decided that whatever the dangers involved, guns were not for me!"

Robinsvoyage 11-29-2006 06:26 AM

I never had any problems, as long as you're honest. I also have a form from a fictitious law enforcement agency here in Tempe that says that the pistol is registetred with the boat.

This topic is always (forgive the cliche), opening up a can of worms. Is that the right expression? (I have the flu right now.)


JeanneP 11-29-2006 06:29 AM

Hi, Robin. Haven't heard from you in a while. How are you doing?

rwthomas1 01-20-2007 08:11 AM

This is an interesting topic. I grew up in the Caribbean. My father was armed at all times. He had to use the weapon twice in self defense. My friends and relatives from my homeland, mostly are anti-gun, and it is a bit difficult to even own a gun there. When I asked them what they thought about having a weapon a sailboat in the Caribbean they all agreed that you would be crazy NOT to be armed. I have a good deal of experience with firearms and have lived in places where I felt a whole lot better being armed.

I plan to have a pump shotgun on board when I cruise. I have read the posts and can see that many folks simply don't understand the need. Questions like "when do you shoot" If you are asking that question you have no understanding of when it is appropriate to use a firearm for defense or more importantly, have not been trained in the use of firearms for defense as a civilian. In fact, I highly recommend that anyone considering being armed be properly trained. There are many classes and hands on facilities that offer these services.

Regarding the drawbacks to cruising with a defense weapon it would seem a very personal issue. Only an idiot would depart on a cruise and not know the laws of the countries they were about to enter. Knowing the firearm laws and procedures in advance and how to deal with them will negate any problems with local authorities. This is a choice plain and simple. Just understand the pitfalls ahead of time. RT

Auzzee 01-20-2007 11:36 AM

Having a good deal of experience with firearms is not the criterion I would establish before arming myself on a yacht. A more appropriate criterion might be experience with people, and even more so, a psychic ability to determine if the boat 200 yards away is crewed by fishermen, day trippers, officials, kids at play, pirates...or people such as yourself with firearms experience and who mistake you for a pirate.


rwthomas1 01-20-2007 11:59 AM

Its pretty clear that you have your opinions on firearms and I have mine. So lets agree to disagree. RT

JeanneP 01-20-2007 09:49 PM

Rob, where in the Caribbean were you born? I assume it was one of the USVIs, but that's not a sure thing, I know. I'm sorry that your father had such problems in the Caribbean, but he might have been more exposed to theft as a resident carrying conspicuous amounts of money.

We have been going to the Caribbean for 30 years, still own an apartment on the island of St. Martin, and lived and cruised the entire eastern caribbean chain in the late 80s, early 90s. We had an anchor stolen in St. Martin, but I am pretty sure it was another cruising yachtie that stole it (well, Peter might have lost it after he buoyed it and left it in the lagoon for several weeks).

With regard to crime, I would say that the USVIs have the worst crime problem in the Caribbean. There is no place in the Caribbean (except for Colon, Panama) that I did not walk alone. I also think that, due to its success as a tourist destination, the Caribbean probably has a greater incidence of petty theft (purse snatchings, pockets picked, etc.) than other places, though we did not experience such problems; we probably didn't look as if we carried enough money to make it worth it to try to steal!>/biggrin.gif

However, petty theft is not, in my opinion, an excuse to carry or use firearms. But if you feel better wielding a shotgun whenever a friendly fisherman approaches your boat, that's your choice. But do read my friend's report of a piracy attack in Indonesia, at

Fair winds,


rwthomas1 01-23-2007 10:53 AM

I was born in Barbados and lived there until I moved here. My father is a local, my mother a US citizen so I can come and go as I please, hold a Bajan passport, etc. IMHO, you don't really understand how things work unless you have lived there full-time and are plugged into the culture and fabric of the place. Barbados has crime, some of it quite violent, and some of it never makes it to the newspapers. Not good for tourism. Growing up it was a popular thing to walk the miles of beaches under moonlight. Its really very beautiful. And dangerous. Never once went without Dad carrying. Have been approached numerous times but once they hear a locals accent they usually move on. Tourists have been attacked/mugged/raped. The most common tool on the island is a machete and it is also the #1 crime weapon. There are places on the island that you do not go unescorted and certainly not at night. Just like anyplace else. It may look like paradise but if you don't respect it you may be sorry.

I whole-heartedly agree that petty theft is not an excuse to carry a firearm. Prudent measures such as locking up belongings usually takes care of that. I also do not think "waving a shotgun" at anyone that is not directly threatening you is smart either.

So when do I think a firearm may be warranted? I hate to pick on you friends post but to make my point I will comment. The first thing that strikes me is your friends gave away too much information. Who they are, how many, where they are going. The second thing is maybe they should have bought some fish. Pay with small bills and coins to make it look like you don't have much more. The fact that your friend noticed that they were really checking out the boat is another sign. They wanted to board and were refused. Why were they refused? I get the feeling your friend was not comfortable from the start. It would have been prudent to pull up the hook and find a safer/different anchorage. After they left I would have got the shotgun unlocked and accessible. Then the sailing buddy needed to know exactly what happened. After that increased vigilance may have caught them before they got to the boat and boarded. I can see of no better time for a firearm on board. Simply letting them see it as they approach would likely turn them around in a hurry.

Putting myself in that situation should I be busy wrestling with some guy with a sickle? And what of my wife? Can she be expected to fend off intruders too? While I agree that I have no possession that is worth a human life I do have my own life and that is certainly worth everything to me. Someone boarding my boat, armed, may just want some cash. Or they may want everything and cut my throat in the process too because they can.

Its all about a measured response. Daylight in an area that is considered safe for cruising, no need for the firearm. Approached by a boat that appears friendly in daylight, smiling unarmed folks on board, maybe a bit wary, but likely no need for the firearm. Maybe unlock it and have it handy inside the companionway. Approached by a high-speed boat, firearm ready but not displayed. Approached by high-speed boat, armed occupants visible, firearm ready and on display. Nightime, approached by ANY boat, firearm ready inside companionway. Anyone that pulls alongside, jumps on your boat, uninvited, is not there for a social visit. If you have seen them approaching and have the firearm ready then you have the option of displaying it. You them also have the option of repelling them. Or if you choose not to do anything then whatever happens is what would have happened anyway.

Will this help? Maybe. There may or may not be time to act. Having a firearm gives you a choice. Its simply another tool to use. I sincerely hope I never need one but I would rather have it and not need it. FWIW, a good friend is a career USCG. His guestimate is better than 50% of the commercial vessels he boards are armed and maybe 20% of the recreational. This was Caribbean and US waters patrols.

This is not to say I have a problem with people who think carrying firearms is a bad idea. Fine, don't carry them. I understand that the likelihood of needing a firearm is very small. I also understand the drawbacks. Its a personal decision. It seems to me that people plan for cruising. Everything is considered. Personal security should be planned for as well not be left as an afterthought. RT

atavist 01-23-2007 11:12 AM


Piotrek 01-23-2007 01:36 PM


I'm sorry, but I'm from europe and we, sissy europeans, are not used to guns.

Can anyone tell me where except USA guns are allowed, so cruising sailor can carry his?

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