Cruisers Attacked in Bocas del Toro

An American couple is brutally assaulted and robbed while aboard their sailboat in a popular Panama anchorage.

Bocas del Toro map

The cruising community in the Bocas del Toro region of Panama is in shock after a couple, who are reportedly in their 70s, was assaulted and robbed while aboard their boat, which was anchored in the "south anchorage" of the Bocas Marina. The attack began at about 0100 Sunday when the two assailants pulled up next to the couple's boat in a typical Panamanian cayuco wooden boat, boarded the sailboat, and tied up the victims at gunpoint. "They ransacked the boat and stole everything of value, including cameras, electronics, a computer, cash, and jewelry," reports Don Winner for Panama Guide. "The attack lasted at least two hours, during which time the victims were assaulted and brutalized. The anchorage is reported to be very busy with 20 boats. However only a couple of boats out of the hundred or so in the area responded when the victims were finally able to put out a call for help on the radio at 0330, after the assailants had left. The victims have filed a complaint with the National Police in Bocas del Toro and the woman was taken to the hospital."

"There is a report that some would-be assailants tried to board another sailboat at 2230 on Saturday 7 July 2012. It was reported that these would-be victims were able to repel that boarding attempt, and nothing else happened.

"It is understood that the cruising couple who were attacked had only been in Panama for a couple of weeks. This is the worst incident in the past few years to happen in Bocas del Toro, which up until now had a pretty secure reputation. It is hoped the government will take this event seriously and put as much resource as possible into finding the attackers"

"The locals are upset," says Becky Flannigan, also in Bocas del Toro, in her blog s/v Kokomo. "They need us cruisers to come to their town and spend money. The cruisers are gathering together this Saturday for a fundraiser for the couple. The marina has offered to move their boat into the marina, free of charge. Many of the cruisers are helping out however they can. We are all stunned and saddened."

The attackers are described as two young men with slender builds and short hair. They speak both English and Spanish and reportedly have a "Jamaican" sounding accent. One of them called the other "Emilio" during the attack. If you have any information about this sad situation, contact Panama's National Police.