I have a question regarding safety while cruising. Our dream has for the last almost 20 years was to retire early and go cruising to the Caribbean aboard our 41 ft ketch.
But now, as that time is quickly approaching, I’m beginning to be afraid of the safety issues. It seems there is an increasing number of reported incidents against cruisers, whether petty theft or worse. Enough to make us wonder if going cruising is now safe.
To all of you who are living the life we are dreaming of, is it safe? Is personal safety in the Caribbean worse than cities here in the US? Am I being silly or ??? Any input would be appreciated!
The Caribbean Safety and Security Net responds:
I don’t know what your source is for saying that there is an increasing number of reported incidents against cruisers.
The situation is certainly getting more press, both legitimate as well everyone and his brother posting his version of a single incident in a blog. Most of these blogs are opinions only, often no basis in fact, but they do serve to get people riled up.
While I don’t see an increase in the total reports over the years, I do see an increase in the reports of violent crimes, that is, robberies, assaults, etc., against yachts. Reported violent crimes in 2008 were double the reports of violent crimes in 2005, although the rate of increase has slowed in the past two years. Most of these reports, although not all, come from Venezuela.
I don’t track crime issues in the US so it is impossible for me to say whether it is worse or not in the Caribbean. Various reports and analyses indicate that crime rates in New York City are down; I don’t know whether that is also the case in other major cities. Here in the islands crime rates among the citizens are on the rise, according to many studies, and that is an issue to the local people; many are frustrated that the authorities are not doing a better job in controlling it.
With the level of attention that they (the authorities) give to crimes against yachts, many yachtsmen share that frustration. I can’t even compare two different islands because there is no yacht-days statistic against which to compare reported incidents. And I do know that we don’t get reports of all the incidents that occur, for various reasons.
Some, maybe even many, of the incidents are because people continue to think this is paradise and they don’t take the same precautions as they did at home – locking the door when they leave, locking the car, not walking down dark streets alone. They seem to leave their brains at home.
Most of the incidents have nothing to do with the world economic condition, although the various island governments are quick to point to that as the cause. This stuff has been going on for years and is the result of some lazy people who want drugs or all the toys they see on US cable TV but are not willing to work to earn those toys. Most of the citizens of these countries are as upset as we visitors at the crimes.
It is an issue of tolerance for risk, as well as tolerance for anything else. We do not visit Trinidad because we choose to anchor in clean water – the dirty water, poor anchoring conditions, everyday crime, etc. are not worth the great shopping and sightseeing – to us. Ditto Venezuela, although not for the same reasons. Ditto the Virgins, St. Martin, etc.
Rather than relying on rumor, either on the Internet or in person, those asking these questions should visit www.safetyandsecuritynet.com for some facts, as well as the precautions list (which offers advice on appropriate behavior) and much more stuff that has been asked over and over again for the past fourteen years.
About the Caribbean Safety and Security Net
The Caribbean Safety and Security Net is primarily an interactive high frequency radio network of cruising yachts which meets each morning on single sideband frequency 8104.0 at 1215 UTC for the purpose of exchanging information with regard to safety and security concerns while cruising in the Eastern Caribbean.
In addition to reporting and logging incidents, the Net provides a relay on emergency and priority messages from friends and family, boat watches for vessels missing or overdue, warnings of navigational hazards both natural and man-made, sources for medical services, and, as time allows, information on a variety of other topics, such as customs and immigration procedures and fees, other nets, sources of weather information, etc.
SSB 8104.0 at 1215 UTC
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