Piracy threat growing in tropical America

Quepos - well known cruising grounds
.. .
How vulnerable are cruising sailors to robbery and piracy? The simple answer is, 'Well it depends on where you go.' In the tropical waters of the Americas, security is an issue that all cruising sailors need to consider. Recent attacks have been alarming in that there have been serious physical threats made to cruisers.

Recent incidents:

Costa Rica:

In Port Quepos, on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, this month six masked, heavily armed pirates crept aboard Two Amigos, a 50ft Gulfstar sailing boat while the two owners and a girlfriend watched movies.

Bruce Stevens, of Dana Point, California, told The Log, ' 'We were silently boarded by six or more heavily armed bandits carrying shotguns and pistols,' Stevens said. 'They made a silent entry on a water taxi.

'One of them was on drugs and wanted to kill us … waiving a knife and pistol and constantly making threats,' Stevens said. 'The leader spoke a little English and contained the crazy ones on drugs.

'They also were thinking of raping my El Salvadoran girlfriend, until she told the leader she had four sons who depend on her.'

The three sailors were tied up, duct taped and threatened, before the intruders ransacked their yacht, stealing three computers, cash and all the boat’s electronics -- including radar, a chartplotter, two ham radios, an in-dash VHF radio, two handheld VHF radios, a Pactor modem, an inverter, three cell phones, two handheld lights and a copy machine.

The attack has changed their yachting behaviour, says Stevens. 'We ... now light the deck up at night, as well as lock ourselves below -- like rats -- to buy time for a mayday and turn on the ship’s horn.'

Venezuela:

Last week on a passage from the Venezuelan island of Los Testigos and the popular cruising anchorage at Porlamor on Isla Margarita Ellen and Jim Birrell's cruising yacht Boldly Go was attacked by pirates who arrived in a 16ft wooden boat. This attack occurred in the morning.

Again, the couple were assaulted and held at gunpoint while the pirates ransacked their yacht carrying off all valuable items they could carry.

The http://www.safetyandsecuritynet.com!Caribbean_Security_and_Safety_Net, that one-stop-shop for all security issues in the Caribbean, has some good advice for cruising sailors cruising in areas deemed unsafe. You can read it by clicking http://www.safetyandsecuritynet.com/passageprecautions.html!HERE.
http://www.sail-world.com/76091