OCC Commodore John Franklin has issued an alert to vessels sailing in waters between Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada. In the last 10 days there have been reports of two incidents of piracy against sailing vessels north of Trinidad. Both took place in daylight and involved local (assumed Venezuelan) 18-20 ft pirogues with powerful outboard engines (120-130 HP). Each craft had 5 or 6 pirates aboard, several of them armed with assault rifles and each craft carried a spare powerful outboard and additional fuel in barrels.
“The OCC Port Officer in Trinidad, Jesse James, is heavily involved with the Trinidad and Tobago Government, the Coast Guard, the Yacht Service Association of Trinidad and Tobago (YSATT), the Ministry of Tourism and other bodies to combat this threat,” reported Commodore Franklin. “I am making representations to the Government of Trinidad and Tobago on behalf of the OCC and the cruising community at large. OCC Roving Rear Commodore John Lytle has also been advising on this dangerous situation unfolding as the year comes to a close. The OCC is doing everything possible to combat this new threat together with the Trinidadian authorities.”
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, watches, computers, other electronics and clothing. Fortunately, there were no injuries or loss of life. Reports of each incident as well as a report of a meeting of the YSATT which contains Coast Guard advice on communications and passage planning can be found on the OCC Forum.