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Pirates Murder French Cruising Sailor in Venezuela

by The Daily Herald/Sail-World Cruising on 22 Sep 2008
Caraballeda tragedy underlines recent advice not to sail in these waters .. .

A French cruising sailor - a charter boat skipper who was well known in St. Martin where he operated his business for most of the year - has been murdered by pirates while cruising with his family in the province of La Guaraia, Venezuela, close to the capital of Caracas, Venezuelan authorities have reported.

According the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this is the fourth act of piracy against French nationals cruising in the region since the beginning of the year. Its travel advisory strongly cautions against cruising the coast of Venezuela or visiting the island of Margarita, because of an increase in attacks. Sail-World Cruising has also recently reported several attacks on other nationals along the coast of the country.

St. Martin resident Philippe Leudière was shot by pirates some time during the night or early morning of September 14-15 while his Lagoon 410 catamaran Chrysalide was at anchor in the port of Caraballeda. Caraballeda is a prime yachting centre on the Venezuelan coastline, with good facilities to encourage the cruising sailor.

The Venezuelan Prosecutor’s Office confirmed Leudière had died from four gunshot wounds following a raid on the boat by 'several armed individuals.' It was reported the pirates had escaped with an undetermined amount in bolivars and US dollars.

Leudière and his family had left St. Martin to go South, as many cruisers do in the summer to escape the hurricane season. He had been operating his charter business for four years and was based at Marina Fort Louis.

He leaves behind his wife Catherine and an 11-year-old son. A close friend said he had been chatting with Leudière on Skype only a week ago and the family had been very pleased to find 'a quiet and agreeable anchorage.'

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