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Old 08-01-2014, 11:18   #1
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Safety and Cruising

Yesterday, after reading the Caribbean Safety and Security Net and being quite surprised concerning the increasing crime in the Caribbean against cruisers:www.safetyandsecuritynet.com/‎ I wondered how much risk the average cruising couple is willing to take to visit these areas? And, if you are willing to take that risk, what is your strategy to do so safely without guns and/or barricading yourself into your boat every night with steel bars and cages? Is the adventure worth the risk when other safer cruising areas are available and accessible? Please do not allow this to degenerate into a forum on guns and protection as this is not the intent of this discussion.
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Old 08-01-2014, 11:32   #2
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Well.. usually solo but also on occasion in the Caribbean have had company for a month or so..
I tend to be pretty casual about things.. hatches open for ventilation.. no special precautions..
Mind I've mainly been in the NE Caribbean between the BVI's and Grenada... so maybe they're safer than other destinations
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Old 08-01-2014, 12:28   #3
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Re: Safety and Cruising

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Originally Posted by rognvald View Post
Yesterday, after reading the Caribbean Safety and Security Net and being quite surprised concerning the increasing crime in the Caribbean against cruisers:www.safetyandsecuritynet.com/‎ I wondered how much risk the average cruising couple is willing to take to visit these areas? And, if you are willing to take that risk, what is your strategy to do so safely without guns and/or barricading yourself into your boat every night with steel bars and cages? Is the adventure worth the risk when other safer cruising areas are available and accessible? Please do not allow this to degenerate into a forum on guns and protection as this is not the intent of this discussion.

Just a quick summary using that data on the last 6 months across the whole of the carribean

Theft- petty ( mostly O/Bs and Dinghys) 16

Burglary ( unoccupied boat, broken into cash & equipment) 6

Assault ( with without Burglary ) 4 ( 2 in Venezuela )

So leaving aside going to Venezuela, taking more care of your dinghy should do it. DOnt see any need for guns or barricades.

for equivalence, there was 210 cases of thefts of outboard motors alone in the same 6 months in the uk

hence a 1 in 300,000 chance of your OB being stolen in the Uk

pop of Caribbean excluding Cuba, plus Venezula , 59 million

hence a 1 in 370,000 of your OB being stolen,!!!

Maybe I need to barricade myself into the boat in Southampton next time then



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Old 08-01-2014, 12:51   #4
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Re: Safety and Cruising

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Originally Posted by rognvald View Post
Yesterday, after reading the Caribbean Safety and Security Net and being quite surprised concerning the increasing crime in the Caribbean against cruisers:www.safetyandsecuritynet.com/‎ I wondered how much risk the average cruising couple is willing to take to visit these areas? And, if you are willing to take that risk, what is your strategy to do so safely without guns and/or barricading yourself into your boat every night with steel bars and cages? Is the adventure worth the risk when other safer cruising areas are available and accessible? Please do not allow this to degenerate into a forum on guns and protection as this is not the intent of this discussion.
From the ad hoc site there is the perception and the words of increased risk but no supporting numbers.

Does this site contain all the reported incidents?

There is no baseline from previous years. There are no comparisons to national city/state crime rates. The website simply contains a series of brief incident reports.

Consequently, one cannot assess if the current risk to a cruiser is even of concern. One cannot estimate if Caribbean crime rates are increasing or decreasing based on this website.

In fact, I would say that there is no way to have an intelligent discussion of risk to a cruiser based on this website.
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Old 08-01-2014, 13:10   #5
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Re: Safety and Cruising

When we left 5 yrs ago, the CSSN data looked exactly like it does now. We have been around almost all of the Caribbean, East, South and West, and do not feel that things have gotten better or worse, or that there is summary danger everywhere. You do need to guard against petty theft, not put unlimited and unearned trust in individuals, stay out of the few truly bad places, etc. And accept that random bad things do happen and you are not immune from them. But you would do this anywhere in the world, right?

The Caribbean may not be the "safest" cruising grounds in the world, but it isn't fraught with universal danger and chockfull of blood-thirst pirates.

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Old 08-01-2014, 15:05   #6
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Re: Safety and Cruising

An interesting statistic appears in the following article which states that the Caribbean comprises 8.5% of the world's population yet records 27% of the world's murder rate. Should this information be ignored by the cruising community as inaccurate? Can we assume that it is otherwise? Should cruisers not be concerned when anchoring in these areas? How would novices know where to go and where not to go? Is dinghy theft in England comparable to murder rates in the Caribbean? Are these really valid questions prospective and seasoned cruisers alike need to ask? Should the cruiser mentality be "Just go for it?" Take a look at the following statistics. What do you think? related:Caribbean's high crime rate is hindering development, report says | Global development | theguardian.com 2013 crime in the Caribbean
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Old 08-01-2014, 15:22   #7
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Re: Safety and Cruising

rognvald,

Your posts sound like you've made up your mind that cruising the Caribbean is a dangerous thing to do. Statistics are valuable in some applications, but based on my personal experience, there's no reason to avoid cruising in the Caribbean, even taking into account the numbers that you quote. The murders are mostly young gang members killing each other and have no spillover to cruisers. The CSSN reports are not alarming to me, as they show that the (mostly petty) crime that does impact cruisers involves a very small percentage of cruisers.

Have you spent any time cruising or living in the Caribbean? I spent eight years in the eastern Caribbean, and I don't know anyone who has decided that it's an unexceptably dangerous place to be.

As colemj suggests, just stay away from the areas that are a bit dicey. Those areas are few, and they've been discussed numerous times here on CF, so new cruisers can easily find the info.
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Old 08-01-2014, 17:07   #8
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Re: Safety and Cruising

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rognvald,

Your posts sound like you've made up your mind that cruising the Caribbean is a dangerous thing to do. Statistics are valuable in some applications, but based on my personal experience, there's no reason to avoid cruising in the Caribbean, even taking into account the numbers that you quote. The murders are mostly young gang members killing each other and have no spillover to cruisers. The CSSN reports are not alarming to me, as they show that the (mostly petty) crime that does impact cruisers involves a very small percentage of cruisers.

Have you spent any time cruising or living in the Caribbean? I spent eight years in the eastern Caribbean, and I don't know anyone who has decided that it's an unexceptably dangerous place to be.

As colemj suggests, just stay away from the areas that are a bit dicey. Those areas are few, and they've been discussed numerous times here on CF, so new cruisers can easily find the info.

Hud,
We lived aboard full-time for ten years from 1995-2005 in S. Florida and the Caribbean. At the time we were cruising, I cannot recall any crimes against the person (robbery, assault, rape, murder) reported or mentioned by other cruisers in any of the anchorages we visited. Perhaps they existed, but we never heard any stories or heard any distress calls via VHF as exist today. Even dinghy theft, was non-existent as most cruisers tied their dinks/motors behind their boats for the night without concern. Since we have not been back since '05, I believe there has been a real change not only in the way people cruise, but also in the incidence of crime. The statistics are well corroborated. The world's economic conditions have had far reaching effects, mostly in the negative. We are planning another major cruise shortly and the topic is well worth discussion since whether those who have "done it" or those who "want to do it" need to weigh the practical considerations and circumstances they might encounter while cruising. We have a choice when we cast off our lines whether it is the location or the experience that is paramount and that, of course, is a personal decision. I haven't made up my mind completely whether cruising is potentially more dangerous in the Caribbean than in the past, but one cannot ignore the disturbing and sometimes horrific events that have occurred recently in these one time peaceful places. There are those in life who fear everything and those who fear nothing. And there is a happy medium. It is this happy medium that intelligent people seek to find balancing the good against the bad and weighing the risk factor. My initial question is a valid one and one that should be carefully considered since to believe the world is static and without change is a dangerous naivete. Good luck and good sailing and thanks for your sincere feedback.
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Old 08-01-2014, 17:25   #9
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Well... last time I was in SMX was 2012 and all was good for the 5 weeks we were there... then moved on to Colon where we'd heard it was dangerous and gun toting thugs were everywhere... not one to be seen..
Mostly scare stories prompted by the nervous..
SMX French side has a bad name amongst Americans.. whereas us Europeans find it really nice and friendly... strange huh..
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Old 08-01-2014, 17:38   #10
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Just a quick summary using that data on the last 6 months across the whole of the carribean

Theft- petty ( mostly O/Bs and Dinghys) 16

Burglary ( unoccupied boat, broken into cash & equipment) 6

Assault ( with without Burglary ) 4 ( 2 in Venezuela )

So leaving aside going to Venezuela, taking more care of your dinghy should do it. DOnt see any need for guns or barricades.
...
Yes, need to put the number of events versus number of cruisers into perspective. Bad things do happen in paradise, and everywhere else too.
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Old 08-01-2014, 17:53   #11
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Re: Safety and Cruising

Our cruiseing area has been the Caribe for the last 10 yrs. We have been in serveral of the places that are being said to be dangerous ! Im 75 and Connies in her early 60s. Im sure no bad ass, and Connies just your normal nurse type lady! and so far we have never felt like we needed to open our gun locker !! We have found that good night liteing, and our little barking dog,s take care of our safety needs !! We do have safe hatchs that can be open and still be safe!( simple bolt in grills and the same for our main hatch !) But so far lifting our dink out of the water, and secureing our out board, have been enough to take care of bizz. I think folks start drinkin before they have stuff taken care of !! Not sayin don't drink but secure stuff, then have a sundowner !! Just my 2 cents
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Old 08-01-2014, 18:22   #12
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An interesting statistic appears in the following article which states that the Caribbean comprises 8.5% of the world's population yet records 27% of the world's murder rate. Should this information be ignored by the cruising community as inaccurate? Can we assume that it is otherwise? Should cruisers not be concerned when anchoring in these areas? How would novices know where to go and where not to go? Is dinghy theft in England comparable to murder rates in the Caribbean? Are these really valid questions prospective and seasoned cruisers alike need to ask? Should the cruiser mentality be "Just go for it?" Take a look at the following statistics. What do you think? related:Caribbean's high crime rate is hindering development, report says | Global development | theguardian.com 2013 crime in the Caribbean

....and what portion of that 27% were cruisers?


Stats like this get quoted frequently, in relation to cruising/tourism, but they almost always choose not to mention that most violent crime in these regions is mostly drug/gang related and rarely involves visitors like cruisers. Makes for better headlines that way.

I live close enough to a drug transport route that I can hear the boats making their midnight runs. Have lived here for years w no problems. I don't mess with them and they don't mess with me...like most cruisers...who make up a statistically insignificant part of that 27%.

Yes, there are serious crime issues in the region, mostly due to the USA's drug addiction, but cruisers are unlikely to be the victims of these crimes.
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Old 08-01-2014, 18:41   #13
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Re: Safety and Cruising

Thanks OP for a good thread. This info is what we came for.
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Old 08-01-2014, 19:26   #14
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Re: Safety and Cruising

It makes sense to me that with the huge increase of cruisers in the last 15-20 years all congregating in well publicized marine tourism spots, there has been a natural increase in criminal acts by some opportunistic locals….
Social media has made those events even more poignant

In those popular places, we have long lost the status of being a special visitor and now just like any tourist spot… we are seen as potential prey by the local criminal element.

Good proactive advice from Bob and Connie and I will take it a bit further by saying that just as you become your own local weather forecaster, you sensitize yourself to the local mindset and attitude of the town or village you are anchored off of.

You can see it in their eyes when you are at the market and in their local pride of having clean simple homes or picking up garbage. You hear it at night, if the ugly drunks take over the waterfront and the parents encourage their kids to aggressively beg from tourists.

We don’t overreact or become paranoid, but in those places where our security senses are flashing, we don’t stay long. We give disinformation on how many are on board or how long we will stay.
If there is a lot of night time boat movements we often sleep on deck and light up the access points. Testing an air horn before we sleep.

I usually feel safer away from tourists spots, anchored off a friendly fishing/farming village where the locals have pride in their community.
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Old 08-01-2014, 19:26   #15
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Re: Safety and Cruising

Today I was going to re anchor near the beach, but I thought that would make me the closest boat if someone swims out at night to rob someone. So I have stayed put in deeper water, behind 20 boats.

Its a safe area, and I would like to swim into the beach each day.... But also theres a dinghy dock on the beach, so i can just dinghy in and then swim.

The balance of prudence and enjoyment is a fine line.


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