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Old 18-06-2006, 21:18   #1
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What is the definition of piracy?

I'd be interested in a smattering of opinion here on what exactly constitutes high-seas piracy.

I am authoring a series of articles on piracy in southeast asia for a regional yachting magazine and would be interested in what others on this board had to say on the topic, as it seems the authorities have a generally very broad definition of what constitutes piracy.

For example:

Is theft in port or on the hook piracy or just theft/robbery?
If a) the theives are packing, b) you are or are not aboard

Is theft of an outboard from your dingy on the beach an example of piracy?

Unarmed "locals" approaching your vessel demanding money or goods?

A group of men carrying machetes who approach your yacht and ask for "baaksheesh" ? (Remember machetes are standard "work tools" in many parts of the world)

What if you then refuse and the group leaves either quietly or with a bit of a "fuss"?

Lastly, if anyone has a story of being approached in southeast asian waters - esp. if it first appeared to be a piracy attempt but later turned out not to be, please email me: scott_neuman@hotmail.com
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Old 18-06-2006, 22:57   #2
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In my opinion piracy should be defined as criminal action against one vessel and or it's crew by the crew of another vessel while underway.
Although many would say, and I would agree that the extortion that goes on with local officials should be included, it really would not fall into the traditional description. Theft from a vessel at anchor, or dockside is usually commited by an individual, and often by someone who has nothing to do with boats. It would seem improper to call the average theif a "pirate". Even if he was stealing boat stuff.
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Old 19-06-2006, 00:15   #3
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Wink

thanks kai nui. it is definitely a fine line. it's worth noting that authorities often throw everything into the same bag.

kai - i seem to recall you have sailed these pirate-infested waters. ever encouter any problems?
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Old 19-06-2006, 00:28   #4
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Nope, not me. Only safe waters for this sailor so far. Baja coast is as far south as I have been so far, and that was on a research vessel. Everything else has been US waters.
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Old 19-06-2006, 02:18   #5
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The Greek historian Plutarch, writing in about 100 AD, gave the oldest clear definition of piracy. He described pirates as those who attack without legal authority (from a sovereign nation) not only ships, but also maritime cities.

From the .
PREAMBLE TO THE UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF THE SEA (1982)
http://www.un.org/Depts/los/conventi...clos/part7.htm

Article101

Definition of piracy

Piracy consists of any of the following acts:

(a) any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft, and directed:

(i) on the high seas, against another ship or aircraft, or against persons or property on board such ship or aircraft;

(ii) against a ship, aircraft, persons or property in a place outside the jurisdiction of any State;

(b) any act of voluntary participation in the operation of a ship or of an aircraft with knowledge of facts making it a pirate ship or aircraft;

(c) any act of inciting or of intentionally facilitating an act described in subparagraph (a) or (b).

Article102

Piracy by a warship, government ship or government aircraft whose crew has mutinied

The acts of piracy, as defined in article 101, committed by a warship, government ship or government aircraft whose crew has mutinied and taken control of the ship or aircraft are assimilated to acts committed by a private ship or aircraft.

Article103

Definition of a pirate ship or aircraft

A ship or aircraft is considered a pirate ship or aircraft if it is intended by the persons in dominant control to be used for the purpose of committing one of the acts referred to in article 101. The same applies if the ship or aircraft has been used to commit any such act, so long as it remains under the control of the persons guilty of that act.

et al

Suggesting that, crimes committed within 12 miles of shore (territorial waters) are not piracy, by international law.
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Old 19-06-2006, 03:42   #6
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Piracey started way back in the times of old,and,only happened on the "High seas",that apparently was anywhere between the high water mark and the pond it'self.Now we have juristiction limits on our coast lines.It seems very obvious to me that anything happening out side this limit should be treated as an act of piracey and anything inside treated by the relevant powers that be under their own judicial system.Anyway you percieve the law to be ,theft is theft,rape is rape,and pilage is a word that combines the two.ARGGH Me matey,it be all piracy,some happens on water,some happens on land.What constitutes piracy on the high seas is anything outside the countries maritime limits.In olden times anything commited by a Pirate was deemed as an act of piracy,whether on the high seas or on land.If I robbed a bank and fled by boat I am not a pirate Im a thief.If I sail the seas looking for other boats with the intention of pilliging from them than I am a pirate,hence,this is an act of piracy.Any way you look at it ,there arn't any real pirates nowdays,their just thieves with boats,and calling it piracy and trying to catagorise it as a type of theft is ludicress.Mudnut.
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Old 19-06-2006, 06:56   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sneuman
kai - i seem to recall you have sailed these pirate-infested waters. ever encouter any problems?
You might try PMing s/v Mika - Michael completed a solo circumnavigation - I don't believe that he hit SE Asia though... came up through the Indian Ocean and to the Red Sea.

You may also want to post in the "Destinations" area on this Forum

http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...splay.php?f=15

Good Luck
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Old 19-06-2006, 17:45   #8
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thanks to all, but what i am really interested in is the responses in which you've given *your* definition of piracy.
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Old 22-12-2006, 04:18   #9
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From the New York Times:
Archeologists Revise Portrait Of Buccaneers As Monsters
By WILLIAM J. BROAD

”PIRATES are often pictured as inhuman devils, quick to maim and kill in pursuit of treasure. They fired broadsides into hapless merchant ships, sent captives down the plank and took grim pleasure in torturing victims and even one another. Blackbeard was said to discipline his crew with his bare fists and to have forced one prisoner to eat his own ears.
But scholars in recent years have assailed much of this mythology as misleading or wrong ...”


Goto:
Archeologists Revise Portrait Of Buccaneers As Monsters - New York Times
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Old 22-12-2006, 06:08   #10
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Piracy, someone who attacks a vessel at sea with the purpose of taking people, cargo or the vessel itself.

I personally have no experience with piracy and know no one who has (and I know a lot of Carribean cruisers). I was accosted by a group of people while at anchor once who gave me a copy of the Watchtower and peacefully left.
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Old 22-12-2006, 06:21   #11
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Hi Scott,

Great AP article last week. Since you're asking for opinions, I'll throw one in:

Piracy is when one boat, combing the waters to find another boat to rob does so. In my definition, it's done in a way so as to draw little attention, so it's done slightly offshore, where authorities and witnesses aren't as likely to be watching. It's often a career for the pirate. Some old ones like Captain Kidd were even sanctioned by governments to rob enemy ships.

In my opinion, any thefts, altercations, even murders that happen while at the dock or in a harbor are not piracy, but standard crime directed toward boats.


The leap that takes it from standard crime, to pirace (in my opinion) is that it's a pre-meditated act that takes place between two vessels.
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Old 22-12-2006, 08:45   #12
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Odd article, Gord. (1997, at that.)

So one has to ask, "Are you a nice pirate? Or a nasty one? Are you planning to hack me to death, or entertain me while waiting for ransom? Do you keep your pistols on that pretty silk ribbon because it looks good? Or, maybe, so you can't drop those EXPENSIVE things overboard so easily? And are your hand grenades really flash-bangs, or are they designed to maim and kill men without hurting the vessel, like armies use?"

The NYTimes, she ain't what she used to be.<G>

Surely, piracy is defined in a couple of legal codes. Including some that apply to boats and sailors. I remember exploring the US Code some time ago and finding that, at least then, if a US citizen was convicted of piracy, the maximum penalty was a fairly small fine and imprisonment for a short period, while foreigners convicted under the same code for the same offense could be hung.

Hooray for the home team! (sigh)
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Old 22-12-2006, 08:57   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sneuman
I'd be interested in a smattering of opinion here on what exactly constitutes high-seas piracy.
My personal interactions with pirates usually involve persons working in or practicing: (list not exhaustive and not ranked by order of severity of pillage or plundering)
  1. Law (Lawyers)
  2. Insurance (salesman & brokers & big name underwriters)
  3. Automobiles (used car salesman & extended warranty companies)
  4. Real Property (real estate salesman & mortgage brokers)
  5. Marriage (ex-wives)
  6. Finance (banks {service charges} & ATM's)
Never once have I ever met a pirate offshore but I'm sure they'll be much nicer than the bunch I listed above!
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Old 22-12-2006, 09:07   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by knottybuoyz
My personal interactions with pirates usually involve persons working in or practicing: (list not exhaustive and not ranked by order of severity of pillage or plundering)
  1. Law (Lawyers)
  2. Insurance (salesman & brokers & big name underwriters)
  3. Automobiles (used car salesman & extended warranty companies)
  4. Real Property (real estate salesman & mortgage brokers)
  5. Marriage (ex-wives)
  6. Finance (banks {service charges} & ATM's)
Never once have I ever met a pirate offshore but I'm sure they'll be much nicer than the bunch I listed above!
Good list, but you missed one Rick,

Yacht Brokers.......
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Old 22-12-2006, 09:09   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by s/v 'Faith'
Good list, but you missed one Rick,

Yacht Brokers.......
Oooops sorry Faith, guess that's why I'm building my next boat! Hah!
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