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MSCHOA and ISAF - still giving pirate advice to yachts

by Nancy Knudsen on 7 Mar 2011
Kidnapped crew of the Ing - given comfort by the sight of Navy ships, thought they were travelling a ’safe’ route .. .
It's curious that in spite the Somali pirate killing of four American cruising sailors, the recent kidnapping of seven Danes and the disappearance since October 2010 of two South African sailors, the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) and the Maritime Security Cerntre (Horn of Africa) (MSCHOA) continue giving guidance about what to do when you sail through the pirate area around Somalia.

Admittedly, they also say 'yachts are strongly recommended to avoid the area', but then go on with pages of details about methodology and strategy.

The information is not up to date, not even including such information as the recent murders, but it is obviously enough to give those like the crew of the Danish yacht ING, the most recent of the seajacked yachts, comfort, as evidenced by what they wrote on their website just before their demise.

They blogged that they were reassured that no yachts had been hijacked who sailed the recommended route they were taking, and took comfort from the sight of navy ships in the distance.

The information on the sites which MSCHOA and ISAF collaborated to produce are written from the standpoint of 'all care and no responsibility'. However, statements like 'MSCHOA encourage yachts to sail EITHER in the 2-mile-wide buffer zone between the two lanes of the IRTC or close to the northern lane.' along with pages and pages of instructions for yachts, together with the information that around 200 yachts every year make the transit, has to be taken in context of the very distinct impression that a yacht such as 'ING' could be given.

While the information gives the impression of cooperation with yachts - by asking yachts to register - it was made very clear to the recent TTT Rally conducted Rene Tiemessen that no assistance whatsoever was to be rendered to the flotilla of 30 yachts wanting to travel in convoy between a Mumbai latitude and Salalah.

The messages are, at best, mixed, but it is clear from the statements of MSCHOA that their mandate is about, as claimed on their website, 'merchant shipping in the region', to support various UN Security Council resolutions, and not about yachts at all.

Here are the ISAF Guidelines produced on concert with MSCHOA:

http://www.mschoa.org/YachtingGuidance/Pages/YachtingGuidanceOne.aspx
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