Are worldwide rates of piracy and crimes against yachtsmen increasing? For some anecdotal evidence see the post below
by Ann Hoffner on voyagers in Papua New Guinea. Now a company called Pamcom Security
of Green Cove Springs, Fla., claims to be the first internet-based firm to specialize in boater protection products (like the taser at left). The company’s new website features products and free information with the aim of helping boaters prevent becoming victims of crime.
According to Pamcom’s recent press release: “Pam Shannon has spent six years living aboard her boat with her partner Charlie Stillings while sailing over 17,000 miles in the eastern and southern Caribbean, giving her firsthand knowledge of the crime problems experienced by boaters. After having one theft and several close calls involving an attempted boarding and being rapidly approached by unknown vessels, she started to help prevent fellow yachtsmen from becoming victims of crime.
“Worldwide crime against boaters is on the increase mainly due to economic problems in various countries but also due to the increase in the number of yachtsmen who live aboard their boats while sailing all over the globe. According to author Klaus Hympendahl, who has written extensively on the subject, there were approximately 200 pirate attacks on yachts since 1996. Sailors are experiencing boardings, break-ins and assaults, even when their boats are in marinas.
“Many of these crimes go unreported because local governments are unwilling to address the problems. A particular problem is when a place like Trinidad, which was formerly considered quite safe, suddenly has a rash of crimes, as they did in 2006. On the other hand the Straits of Malacca, once very dangerous, have recently been taken off the London-based insurance Lloyd’s list of 20 areas worldwide deemed security threats to shipping, mainly due to the cooperation of authorities in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.
“‘Boaters need to learn how to protect themselves because they cannot count on the local authorities for protection,’ Shannon says, â€˜Contrary to popular opinion boaters, especially people who live aboard their boats, should stop thinking of themselves as victims. It has been shown time and again that if potential criminals think cruisers are armed, they will leave them alone and pursue an easier target.’
“‘We had firsthand evidence on this reaction when we were anchored in Clarke’s Court Bay, Grenada, bringing relief supplies to the island after it was devastated by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. A man swam out to our boat from shore and attempted to board; however, when Charlie showed him a suitable weapon, he left immediately. We later learned that, contrary to nearby Hog Island, none of the more than 40 boats in the bay were looted because the locals assumed the sailors in the bay were armed,’ says Shannon.
“Shannon is partial to weapons that allow boaters to keep a good distance between themselves and their attackers. Among her favorites are pepper gel with an 18′ range, a stun baton with a 20” range, and a taser stun gun with a 15′ range. â€˜You need to keep people from boarding your boat, and these products allow cruisers to do that. Once someone has come aboard and is in the close quarters of most boats, it is much harder to disable him,’ Shannon says.
“Pamcom Security deals solely with non-lethal forms of protection, and the real bonus here for yachtsmen is that these products do not have to be declared at Customs when arriving in most ports. This is not the case with guns, the current popular form of boater protection. If cruisers do not declare guns, they run the risk of losing their boat if Customs find the guns during a surprise inspection.
“While products are intended primarily for boaters in the U.S. who live aboard their boats and are planning to sail them long distances around the world, the products can also be used by boaters in the U.S. who keep their boats in marinas and sail them on weekends. Shannon says, â€˜Now all boat owners can cruise with their own security net.'”