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Old 25-12-2007, 15:28   #31
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They would get foreign aid and trade deals...

It is very possible that almost all of the small countries in the Caribbean get foreign aid, trade concessions, finance and a very cordial reception in Washington to encourage them to fight drug running and to generally keep the Caribbean safe for democracy.

So I'd suggest writing to your Federal representatives suggesting that these have been a series of unacceptable incidents and that they should review relations with SVG in that light.

This is not going to register on the radar of the locals on the ground but will let the powers that be know that their lives will not be quite as comfortable if this problem continues.
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Old 25-12-2007, 15:57   #32
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I disagree that writing a (polite and constructive) letter or two will offend or make things worse. But not to say that any letters will make a blind bit of difference!....but yer never know.........

something like this, perhaps:
Minister for Tourism,

Dear Sir,

I am visiting your country in my sailing yacht from 1st to 25th march 2008 with my family as tourists. We wish to see your beautiful country and meet your people.
I note there have been several violent attacks and robberies on yachts in the last 2 years.
I was wondering if you could outline your countries security precautions for cruising yachts and, in particular, changes you have made since these attacks.
I would be delighted if you could inform me that my yacht and family will have a safe and friendly visit to your beautiful country.

With a copy to the minsiter of Police, head of Government etc, names from internet. And if no reply send to local newspapers...
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Old 25-12-2007, 19:12   #33
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There is a fair amount of emotion going on here. Note that I in no way condone piracy or violence I think we have to understand the perspective.

If there is a "chronic" problem in St. Vincent, the only logical thing for cruisers to do is avoid it. If writing a letter makes one feel better, do that too. At the end of the day we all make our choices. I personally wouldn't cruise to any destination until I understood the attitude towards tourists. In many countries the authorities do take an attitude of "investigating and solving crime is too much trouble." I avoid places with dubious legal systems as much as possible.

But is the problem in St. Vncent chronic and if so compared to what?

The first time I arranged a visit for some Japanese business clients I picked a hotel near the plant in mid-west USA. The second time I arranged a visit the Japanese were very polite but not accepting my offer to arrange the hotel. In typical Japanese fashion they wouldn't tell me the problem. Finally one told me that on the first trip, their room was entered in teh middle of the night at gun point through the back door (motor lodge type place) and they were robbed.

They didn't want to embarass me or my company by complaining. Crazy!

The point being is that bad things happen, everywhere, to good people. Life is inherently dangerous and no one gets out alive. It is truly sad but if we boycott every place that had a violent monetary related crime, we would all stay in our dens chatting on the internet.

The best thing about this is that they are alive and the only thing missing is replaceable property. It is simply not worth dying for stuff. In fact, what would have been the outcome if the couple just simply said, "Here. Take all our stuff and have a Merry Christmas."
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Old 25-12-2007, 20:50   #34
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Well said Dan...Have a Merry Christmas!
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Old 25-12-2007, 22:01   #35
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I was going to stay out of this one but I have some very firm beliefs:
I reserve the right NOT to hand-over anything to a thug/intruder, period.
He may, or may not have a weapon, my decision will be made during a quick assessment of the thug. If I'm looking down the barrel of a "9", that's one thing, but if he's standing in front of me trying to be intimidating, I also reserve the right to bash his head in! This guy tried to defend himself & family against 3 intruders, and I salute him for that! The trouble is, you don't know what he/they will do, your life is in danger, particularly if you "roll-over"!
And I believe these little 3rd worlds need to be barraged by as many letters as possible, with copies going to all releveant politicians, including those in the US.
And personally, I don't give a S--t if these countries are offended, as someone said earlier, they need to act like HUMANS.
This is still the most GENEROUS country in the world, we ARE the most giving, passionate people....... sure, we have our problems, but I'd like for everone to visualize what kind of world this would be if we stayed out of other country's business' the last 100 years (We're really gonna enjoy remarks from that statement).
So we do have limited influence in some countries, especially something called FORIEGN AID........ if a country does not want to take measures to assure the safety of visitors, fine, they need to be put on the "DO NOT TRAVEL" list!
Our country does NOT tolerate attacks on anybody, NO country should!
NO EXCUSES................. OK, I'm ready to be berated............ but as sailors, just don't ignore this problem, it affects us all!
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Old 25-12-2007, 22:30   #36
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Geeez!, really??? Machete cuts and bruises and we'll just brush it off and go on our merry way? I would think anyone would be tramatized not knowing if they were going to live or die through that. It's a little more than shock me thinks.

I agree.. (and also agree to the comment about counseling).....there are multiple worthy issues here...the island culture, weapons, but on the topic of how it impacted them by itself (sorry, this is off topic of sailing/cruising, but it's empathy for those that did), I hope they had some fun on this trip, notwithstanding this ordeal, but once they get home, the seriousness of the impact for years can be staggering. For people that have never suffered from violent crime, been robbed, held up at knife point, gun point (or both) let alone actually cut up, or seen the horror of warfare, it's hard to appreciate. Then when something like that DOES happen, for some people at least, the memory never goes away..someone to talk to (like a professional) very soon after the event for some people is a God send in coping, dealing, and reducing the impact on your life.....just my 2 cents worth
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Old 25-12-2007, 22:36   #37
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Hi All,
My tuppenceworth.
I do think it is possible to influence a government into taking action against things that harm the majority of its people. Clearly a growing reputation for crimes against yachtspeople will not help the St Vincent people as it will lead to more and more by passing the island.
Maybe we lacked in doing our research, but after arriving in Bequia (which is part of St Vincet but another island) lots of cruisers plus even locals all nodded after hearing of the events - saying that part of the main island is a known bad spot and best avoided.
Its no good not going and hoping the authorities eventually pick up on the facts - its obviously better to let them know you're not going until they apply some rigorous local policing and sort out the issues.
I for one will be emailing the authorities and letting them know this - and I think the more who do it - the greater the chance of getting this stopped.
Cheers
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Old 26-12-2007, 04:58   #38
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John, you're absolutely right in what you say and what you plan to do.

The governments down here can be influenced by people speaking up, and there are examples of that happening. The key is to be rational, polite, and respectful in one's communication. I live here, and I've talked with government officials--they value the input, believe me. And I've never been called an "arrogant American".

Yachting is recognized as an important and growing tourism sector, and is being promoted. They have a lot on their plates down here, and will only respond if it's clear that their national interests are being affected. Well-reasoned, polite letters will help; rants and diatribes will not. By-passing without comment most likely will not register on the radar screen.
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Old 26-12-2007, 05:11   #39
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If the crime was against charter customers it may be best to write the charter companies. They will be in the best position to know the politicians in the areas where they do business and understand how to leverage them. US politicians will have a staffer send you a nice letter about how important it is to them but not do a thing. The local tourism office will only take it seriously if there is a shortage of tourists overall.

It would be interesting to know how many crimes are focused on charters vs cruisers. A charterer has a limited time in the country making a complaint and prosecution unlikely. A cruiser may have a bunch of junk on deck that would be easily stolen. Unfortunately, beyond generalized statistics, there seem to be few studies of the real causes of crime in the Caribbean. Most of the media reports are so simplified that the result is to overgeneralize the results and solutions.

For the cruiser, the best bet is still going to be keeping up with the security net on a daily basis.

Oddly, my uncle just returned from chartering in St. Vincent and absolutely loved the place.
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Old 26-12-2007, 06:45   #40
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I agree with Dan, there does seem to be a great deal of 'passion' in so many of these postings and I suspect, many from those who have never been to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. A few salient points:

1. St. Vincent is not a country, it is only the largest island in the country known as 'St. Vincent and the Grenadines'. Those who are saying that yachters should boycott the country, or that it is 'an armpit' are suggesting that Bequia, Mustique, Canouan, Tobago Cays and Union Island are also 'armpits' and to be avoided. While I personally hope that the gun toting crowd do avoid them all, those who are willing to open their eyes and who do not navigate by the stars of ignorance and prejudice will be missing one of the best and yes, safest cruising grounds in the Caribbean.

There are areas in SVG to be avoided as there are in all countries. I have even heard of some dangerous places in the United States, although I refuse to judge the entire country and its democratically elected govenment based upon that. Perhaps, especially at this time of year, a little of the 'do unto others ...' would be appropriate. Or at least, 'judge not, lest ye shall be judged'.

2. There are many who have suggested that the government of SVG doesn't care about yachters or yachting dollars. Absolutely untrue. SVG likely has a greater proportion of its tourist dollars from yachters (for the very reasons I cited above) than any other nation. A long-time Prime Minister of the country was the owner of the Frangipani Inn on Admiralty Bay in Bequia - one of the most popular anchorages in the Caribbean. And all of the Grenadines feature small communities and businesses not only open to, but designed to encourage yachters.

3. St. Vincent has no large hotels, few white sand beaches, few resources (apart from natural beauty) and consequently some huge difficulties in providing employment opportunities for its population in the traditional tourist industry. Short of becoming a police state (which they could ill afford), there is little they (or any country) can do to make some of these dangerous areas safe. It is, therefore, ciritical for the visiting yachter/tourist to find places that ARE safe (and there are many) and to avoid those which are not. Closer to home, when in L.A. you may wish to avoid Watts.

While there are dangerous places in St. Vincent, there are also safe ones. Certainly the Grenadines, apart from the occasional incident in Admiralty Bay on Bequia, are extremely safe. Well, at least they will be so long as groups of gun-toting paranoids keep their distance. As a motto for those I would suggest a modification of the old American Express ad campaign from 'Don't leave home without it', to a much more suitable 'Don't leave home!'

Brad
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Old 26-12-2007, 06:59   #41
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Quote:

“There are areas in SVG to be avoided as there are in all countries. I have even heard of some dangerous places in the United States, although I refuse to judge the entire country and its democratically elected government based upon that. Perhaps, especially at this time of year, a little of the 'do unto others ...' would be appropriate. Or at least, 'judge not, lest ye shall be judged'.”

* * *

Well said, Southern Star.
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Old 26-12-2007, 09:55   #42
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We cruise Jamaica with local friends there (and have for years). There are places that are reasonably safe and places that are quite dangerous. The Jamaicans are wonderful people but there are some bad eggs too. My thought would be to try to locate someone very familiar with the waters prior to visiting and attempt to find the safest anchorages. JMHO.
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Old 26-12-2007, 15:06   #43
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Agreed, Texsail, despite Jamaica's reputation for violent crime - and there are now some wonderful marinas in the Port Antonio area and a decent one in Montego Bay. The point is that in reading this thread one gets the impression that cruisers should avoid or boycott what are perceived to be 'dangerous areas' such as SVG and Venezuela. Of course, statistically things are even more dangerous in the Domincan Republic and Puerto Rico.

In fact, since the USVI's have more reported crime than the BVI's perhaps they should also be boycotted. And Cuba - well lets not get started with that...

Or, as you say, perhaps the cruising sailor should exercize his or her own judgment based upon comprehensive research and common sense. Some can (and should) give the entire Caribbean a pass. The rest of us will rely less upon government travel advisories and the occasional horror story than our own due dilligence; we will understand that there are risks every time you take to the sea or enter a foreign port; we will remain cognizant of the reports of crime in various harbours, anchorages and towns and balance that against the benefits to be gained from going there, as opposed to any alternatives on our chosen routes; we will understand that some of the most beautiful sailing and scenery is to be had in areas that are extremely poor and yes, third world; and we will often choose to go to these places because we understand the risks associated with taking the path less travelled, rather than only a path through and to 'comfortable' destinations.

Printing reports of incidents of violent crime in the Caribbean IS a valuable resource to all of us, especially if the reports are balanced. I am much less certain that speculating on political/economic campaigns designed to force foreign governments to be more like we are (or at least, perceive ourselves to be) is of equal (or indeed any) value.

Brad
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Old 26-12-2007, 17:24   #44
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In fact, since the USVI's have more reported crime than the BVI's perhaps they should also be boycotted. And Cuba - well lets not get started with that...
Not sure what has been said about Cuba but I've had many friends visit and cruise that island and they forever love it!! I guess it all comes down to if it happens it happens. Just do everything in your power to not look like obvious targets. Look like you know where you are and are going. Don't leave stuff lying around on deck and don't flash expensive stuff.

But, if it's unavoidable, then so be it. Hell, you can get robbed in your own home, get car jacked while in traffic several blocks from your own home. Basically, you can't just keep living in fear, just be very alert and as some of the other posted said, get as much info about a place before arriving to get yourself educated and familiar with the area.

my .0000000000000002 cents.
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Old 27-12-2007, 01:26   #45
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I agree with Dan, there does seem to be a great deal of 'passion' in so many of these postings and I suspect, many from those who have never been to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. A few salient points:

1. ... While I personally hope that the gun toting crowd do avoid them all, those who are willing to open their eyes and who do not navigate by the stars of ignorance and prejudice will be missing one of the best and yes, safest cruising grounds in the Caribbean.

...Perhaps, especially at this time of year, a little of the 'do unto others ...' would be appropriate. Or at least, 'judge not, lest ye shall be judged'.

...

...Well, at least they will be so long as groups of gun-toting paranoids keep their distance. As a motto for those I would suggest a modification of the old American Express ad campaign from 'Don't leave home without it', to a much more suitable 'Don't leave home!'

Brad
The above snippets quoted do seem contradictory don't they? Don't judge people, you paranoid, prejudiced gun toters! Blatant hypocrisy is so funny.

Being a novice sailor who hopes one day to visit the Caribbean via a sailboat, and an avid shooter, firearm owner, and yes, a concealed pistol carrier, this thread definitely interests me.

Not too long ago, in a popular sailing mag, Cruising World, maybe, I read an article about sailing around the world that touched on many topics, from storms to piracy. In the storm section, the author stated that people should not count on avoiding storms, despite access to various weather services, route planning, etc. Therefore, a wise sailor would always be prepared to survive bad weather through proper preparation which included buying the right sails, strong ground tackle, and practicing using the gear so that they would be expert in its use when needed. I hear the same reasoning on this forum quite often too. The author then addressed firearms and piracy. Ironically, he used the exact same argument AGAINST firearms as he used to promote storm preparation. That he would plan his routes to avoid dangerous places, etc. I couldn't help but think that people are everywhere you go. How do you know which ones are willing to use violence against you? You can't trust weather forecasts, but you can trust everybody in the world? It didn't make sense to me then, and it still doesn't.

Having read up on crime and criminals after my near home robbery, with my wife home at the time, alone, I learned a few things.

My readings suggest that violent criminals rarely just start off killing people. They work their way up to it. As in this case, the poor guy was cut up and his wife threatened with rape (which Brad, is not paranoia, it's the reality). As the pirates continue to be successful, their level of violence is almost certain to increase. Eventually, they WILL be raping women and murdering. If the couple had a gun and used it successfully, i.e., killing the pirates, they most likely would have saved some other cruiser from a truly horrific crime. Time will tell.

Having lurked on this forum for some time, I've always been dismayed by how many people on this forum make excuses for those who perpetrate crimes. Statements similar to "you don't understand the culture, it's just a machismo thing", and so forth. Theft, assault, rape, and murder are crimes in every culture I have read of. It's WRONG. And by letting criminals get away with it, they are encouraged to go farther. And then on the flip side, your average cruiser who would carry a means to defend against a boarding is, well, PARANOID, PREJUDICED, and DANGEROUS, or so it is implied.

To put it bluntly, you folks that think that way are simply brainwashed. Up into the early 1900s, guns were everywhere. Useful tools to put food on the table, keep critters out of the garden or house, and yes, to defend yourself from crime. Guns have not become sentient beings since then, i.e., turned evil. It's people that have become more evil. And if you are unlucky enough to run across someone willing to harm you or yours, NOT having a gun will NOT change the outcome. Having one may, if you are well trained in its use. It's not an omni-directional deathray, despite the propaganda.

I'll conclude with this: I went to a gun store today, to browse for any post Christmas specials. The place was JAMMED with all types of people: Police officers, professional folks, farmers, hunters, and even a few folks that looked like bums. And not once was I pushed, shoved, or even roughly brushed up against. Everyone was saying "Excuse Me", "Yes Sir", "No Sir", and simply standing aside, calmly waiting for an opening to observe an item of interest. Compared to the treatment you get in Malls and department stores, it was a shopping oasis of peace. And why is that?
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