One of the most common questions we are asked is, “What about piracy? Aren’t you worried?”
Piracy is certainly something to be concerned about but, as with anything else, it is a subject that requires some education. The map above, for instance, shows the piracy incidents recorded for 2014. Yes, there are a lot and some were extremely serious such as being fired upon and hijacked. However, all of these instances were oil tankers, cargo ships, commercial fishing vessels, or other large commercial ships with the potential for huge financial value. None of these attacks were on personal yachts.
That’s not to say it doesn’t happen. It does. However, it is not as common as the media would lead you to believe. Someone peacefully crossing the red sea does not make the news. Tens of thousands of cruisers are out there, but you only hear about the one couple that is taken hostage and held for ransom. Countries are refusing to pay ransoms, which leaves little to no value to pirates for personal vessels. If Dave and I were taken, the most we would be worth to anyone would be our boat; hardly worth the effort. There are some interesting sites I’d like to share to help alleviate the fears of our families and friends. To see the live map above and what everything means, click here. These scary reports show that it is a very dangerous job these days to be a large ship’s captain or crew. If you haven’t seen Captain Phillips, that movie will give you a very good idea of who is targeted out there. Along with the map, there is a report you can see, click here.
There is also a piracy report site for personal vessels. One needs to keep in mind is the types of incidents that are recorded as “piracy.” These include boarding, petty theft, dinghy theft, assault and robbery, one abduction, and one hijacking. Out of all the thousands of boaters there are some 30 reports of “piracy” for 2014 throughout the world. There’s probably more than that on your block. See the report here. There are certainly some hotspots to avoid and currently those that I am aware of include Panama, Venezuela, Philippines, and Malaysia. Common sense must be used as well as keeping informed on the current piracy reports. There are also actions you can take, such as traveling in caravans with other boaters. One thing we will NOT do is carry a gun on board. That is asking for trouble. If we are accosted by a boat containing five men armed with automatic rifles, what good will a handgun do? Not to mention it is illegal to check into most countries with a gun onboard. It would be better to shoot a flare into the bottom of the pirate boat and try to set them on fire. Hopefully, even that will be unnecessary following the proper precautions.