Several local sources have confirmed that Somali pirates have captured a yacht with six crew members on board, according to piracy monitoring organisation http://www.ecoterra.net/!Ecoterra_International.
Somalian pirates being arrested by maritime authorities
While no none of the marine authorities in the area have confirmed these reports, the yacht, which has yet to be named, has been reported as sailing towards the Somali coastal town of Hobyo since the hijacking.
According to the Ecoterra International, the organization, which monitors piracy around the Horn of Africa, the yacht was hijacked before the New Year and has been commandeered towards the Somalian port of Hobyo.
The pirates attacked the yacht and another, larger merchant ship with it, but were unsuccessful in capturing the larger ship. As of this morning they were still 130 nautical miles from Hobyo.
'We find it extremely worrying that the navies either cannot locate that vessel or keep it a secret,' commented Jackson Kilonzo, spokesperson for Ecoterra International.
Despite the intensification of anti piracy activities in the Gulf Of Aden and the Indian Ocean the pirates managed to seize 74 vessels in 2010, and Ecoterra, which keeps count of the vessels and their crew, report that almost 800 merchant seamen and fishermen are currently in the hands of Somali pirates.
Only two of these are cruising sailors. British cruising sailors Paul and Rachel Chandler, who were kept hostage for over a year were released after the payment of a ransom late last year. South African cruising sailors Debbie Calitz and her partner Bruno Pelizzaro were kidnapped in October 2010 and whisked into the Somalian jungle. Nothing has been heard from them since, and South African authorities maintain they have received no ransom demand.
Six crew is not a usual number for a cruising yacht. Yachts with six persons on board on the high seas are likely to be either families, racing yachts on a delivery mission, larger charter yachts, or a superyacht manned by its commercial crew.
Editor's update note:
The latest reports suggest that this is not a sailing boat, but a tug boat.