Wife and I sailed from Canada
to Trinidad last season, and are home for a bit.
Although we talked to many cruisers who had been living aboard
for years without trouble, we were boarded twice during our little trip.
The first time, we were in Souffriere, St. Lucia. We had returned from Benny's Harmony Restaurant to our boat at the base of the Petit Piton, with our guest couple. Our catamaran
has built-in swim ladders at the stern of both hulls, and a sliding glass door for entrance to the salon
. We had one more "nightcap" and then went to bed
. Shutting the door would severely limit air flow through the boat, so we left it open, but put up a mosquito screen
that we use in Canada
. The screen
attaches all around the door opening with a velcro strip. At approximately 1:30 AM, I slowly became aware of the velcro being opened a bit at a time. It seemed to go on forever. I got out of bed
and walked to the bottom of the stairs to see if the "traffic" was from the inside to the outside or from the outside to the inside. I was in time to see an arm and leg entering the boat. I responded with a loud: "You get the hell out of here", and the body parts
disappeared and a splash was heard.
We got flashlights out, but could see nothing. Using lights and noise
, we got the people awake on the cat beside us as well, but nothing was noticed. I did a lot of "securite" announcing on the radio
, as well as requests to the police for assistance, but nobody responded.
The visit from the police the next morning was quite entertaining. The reason they arrived was because a private runabout was missing, belonging to a member
of the fisheries/marine patrol, and the owner was convinced that the two crimes were connected. After hearing our story, the cop said that he had a suspect in mind, who had been released from prison recently. He said that the reason we could not spot him was because the suspect could dive to 60 feet without tanks
. Apparently, he had a voodoo spell put on him to allow that (not that they necessarily believe in Voodoo, he added). He said their probable course of action was to wait until the suspect has some success, get a warrant, and then plant some evidence. He also added that if the guy had boarded his boat, the guy would have shot him. The marine
patrol guy suggested the body could easily be placed in deep water
a few miles out to save a lot of trouble. Oh well, not my culture, so how can I pass judgement?
Next time, we were with new guests in St. Vincent, in Young Island Cut. The guy came on board at 3:30, and I met him while he was still on the hull
. He turned around and shielded his face as he quietly got back into the water
. This time, I provided a stern lecture: "Listen here, you Dumbass (I love "That 70s Show"), you are playing a dangerous game
. You could be pepper sprayed, stabbed, or even shot; and for what? A hundred bucks or a used camera
? etc, etc."
By now, all crew was on deck
, with flashlights. The guy tried to hide under the boat but we shooed him out. He began to swim to the far shore, towards Young Island and other boats. Resealable bags floated out of his pockets. Again, I used the radio
to advise all others about this obvious thief and home invader. Again, nobody had their radio on. Sure would have been nice if we all had kept an eye on him, or had ganged up to apprehend him.
A couple of hours later, we listened on the radio as a charterer was asking for a visit from police or the coast guard to come to his boat. His teenage daughter had surprised a burglar in the salon
, and they were shaken up. I felt like jumping on and saying if he had kept his radio on, he could have expected "company". The Coast Guard kept telling him to go to shore and visit the Police. They finally said they would drop by just to get the guy off the air. Doubt if they did.
Us? We didn't bother with the police. Felt we knew their level of interest.
We were aware of other boardings as well. One happened off Rodney Bay, the night after our first boarding. Likely the same guy trying the same M.O. in a new anchorage. He was successful that night, taking money
off a small Montreal monohull
while the coulple slept. Another occurred off Union Island, by Frigate Island. A dog on a nearby boat woke the French couple, but the guy got out and slashed the dinghy
on the way to the beach so he couldn't be run down. Calls to the Police could not get them to act. They could have easily caught the guy, as it is a ten minute walk along a causeway to the main island.
We now carry pepper spray acquired in Martinique
, have our main door pegged so it can be locked while 5" open, and are considering a motion sensor. Although often bothered by dogs
afloat in the past, we now understand why they seem to be trained to bark at any approaching dinghy
, swimmer, or passing yacht. We have purposely befriended and parked near yacht-dogs since these these boardings. Let em bark all they want.