Piracy in Paradise Drives Away Yachters

June 28th, 2012


v10-7-Our Islands

Flag of English pirate Richard Worley, who pillaged Caribbean merchant ships in the early 18th century until he was captured and killed by colonial militia off Virginia in 1719. (image by Olek Remesz)

The night was calm, and the stars in the Milky Way hung above the tiny sailing vessel like a brilliant sash girding the globe. The only sound was the far away bark of a dog and the gentle lapping of tiny waves against the hull. Sometime after midnight the sailors, a married couple from France, were awakened by persons unknown who had silently boarded the vessel, brandishing a knife showing their readiness to quell any resistance.

The couple were swiftly bound and gagged, and the thieves went about gathering the things they wanted. They eventually left the boat, and the couple were able to free themselves and report the incident. The thieves were caught and jailed when they started to hand out drinks of a special Trinidadian Rum from the vessel; the couple got their belongings back. The bandits went to jail on serious charges. Justice was served.

That was about one year ago. Last month, a judge released one of the convicted men, just one year after he had been sentenced to five years for armed robbery.

Just days after the convicted man’s release, a sailor on another boat, docked near where, by some strange coincidence, the French couple who were robbed a year earlier had returned for a brief visit and been docked the night before, reported he awoke to find himself pinned to his mattress by at least two assailants.

Still in a sleep- induced stupor, the sailor, who chose to remain anonymous, said he began to fight off his attackers. But he could not get them off him. In the gloom the attackers found a flashlight and a tapestry knife that was part of the boat’s equipment. In the struggle the sailor was cut across the face and over the forehead. Then, he said, the attackers shone a light in his eyes and threatened him with the knife.

His hands were tied behind him. They placed a pair of short pants over his head and pulled them down so that his face was covered by one leg of the garment. They then pushed him into the head and went about their business.

The gash across the sailor’s face had cut open the lower part of his nose. He was bleeding profusely. Blood soon clogged his nose and filled his mouth. He feared he would die of suffocation. He used his tongue to push the fabric away from his face and was able to breathe.

After the attackers left, the sailor said he was able to free his hands and exit the forward hatch. He ignited a flare and saw the men paddling away in a dugout canoe. They had apparently tried to steal the dingy attached to his sailboat but in the darkness were unable to untie it or start the engine. Our hero started the engine, and armed with a horn and another flare, he took out after his two attackers.

He soon overtook them, and as he approached, he said the cowardly pair jumped from the canoe, which he rammed and capsized. The two assailants dived into the dark ocean, and as his second flare fizzled, the sailor said he lost sight of them as they headed for shore.

Two men were arrested the next day with a large amount of cash. Neighbors testified they had seen the men swim ashore the night before and that one of them was the same perpetrator who had just been released after serving a year for the robbery of the French sailing couple. But the sailor opted not to file a complaint, and the men were promptly released.

Fortunately, there are very few incidents like this on Guanaja. But even one is too many. When it became public knowledge that the suspects in the latest robbery, one of whom had been identified as a perpetrator also of the first, had been released just two days after their arrest, the bay was emptied within hours. People who derive their livelihood from these vessels are now without income. The powers that be should do something to discourage these types of crimes against our visitors from faraway places. [/private]

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