Over the last two weeks two recreational vessels heading north from the Caribbean island of Trinidad have been robbed at gunpoint by pirates, presumably Venezuelans. This makes our redesigned Bahamas & Beyond seminar at TrawlerFest all the more timely.
The seminar discusses tools to identify and avoid islands where crime is on the rise, and also includes a module on different firearms laws down island.
For example, Venezuela has seen a precipitous drop in cruiser visits because of its reputation for armed robbery, but the recent attacks happened north of Trinidad in the vicinity of a group of oil rigs, one of which is shown above.
According to the Ocean Cruising Club, both attacks took place in daylight and involved local (assumed Venezuelan) 18-to-20 foot pirogues with very powerful outboard engines (120-130 hp). Each craft had five or six pirates aboard, several of them armed with assault rifles and each craft carried a spare outboard and additional fuel in barrels.
In each case the sailing vessel was boarded by armed pirates and the boat ransacked for valuables. Stolen items included cash, passports, boat papers, cell phones, computers, other electronics and clothing. No one was harmed, only threatened.
In September, however, a Trinidad fisherman was killed by pirates in the same general area and fitting the same description.
For some cruisers, this news will mean avoiding the southeast Caribbean altogether, which is unfortunate because Trinidad has developed a large and competent marine industry.
As far as TrawlerFest is concerned, the "Bahamas & Beyond (With a Caribbean Firearms Module)" is led by veteran cruisers Chuck Baier and Susan Landry with appearances by weather expert Chris Parker, fishing expert John Brownlee and myself. Maritime Attorney Greg Singer presents a module for anyone considering keeping firearms aboard while cruising; he identifies the islalnds that can cause problems for even the most consciencious armed cruisers.
The seminar is Thursday, Jan. 28, 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Riviera Beach Municipal Marina.
The TrawlerFest boat show and seminar series happens Tuesday through Sunday, Jan. 26-31. The boat show runs Thursday through Sunday, Jan. 28-31, and includes booths displaying marine products and services. For information about TrawlerFest-Riviera Beach, call 954.703.4789 or send an email to Trawlerfest@passagemaker.com.
The best value is to purchase a VIP pass which allows entry into any and all of the seminars (except the diesel and “Hands-On Boat Handling” seminars) for a set price, which also includes admission to the show and evening social events. For example, you could attend three of the four seminars mentioned above (two conflict) as well as have a choice of several others over the six-day event.