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Old 23-03-2012, 16:12   #1
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Depressed and Close to Giving Up

Ok, we have the boat, most "todos" are done, budget is tight but doable and improving, we are both healthy and have loved each other and cruising FOR YEARS. We hoped to leave within a month or so for Isla Mujeres, then coastal Mexico, then Belize then the rio dulce. We have done this before, had a great time. No problems. But today I read that a sailboat 3 miles off placencia was boarded, people were stabbed, a woman was raped.

This is after worrying if the Rio was safe after reading about boardings, attacks and let's not forget poor Don Dryden...(but that was a while ago.) Eventually we decided our concern over possible hurricanes trumped our safety concerns re the rio. But then the placencia attacks and now I am rethinking the whole trip to the western Caribbean.

I have searched online for the last few months, I have read EVERY blog written by a sailor even Near the western Caribbean. I talk to people, I email people. I was concerned I was "over focusing" on crime.

But the placencia attacks have freaked me out.

Go somewhere else you say? But our budget really only worked in the western Caribbean. Our only alternative seems to be delaying our trip in order to work in Florida (if that is even possible.) so we can go somewhere else more expensive, but safer.

Are we chicken s*%}ts or are we careful and prudent?

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Old 23-03-2012, 16:26   #2
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Re: Depressed and close to giving up

Erm, you're in Florida. How more dangerous a place can you be in?

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Old 23-03-2012, 16:34   #3
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Re: Depressed and close to giving up

the world is a big place and you can sail anywhere! What about the Dominican Republic -
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Old 23-03-2012, 16:37   #4
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Take a deep breath. Maybe cruising the ICW or Texas / Gulf region would work. Hurricane season is starting, so maybe Panama or San Blas. Many choices. Crime happens. Don't stop cruising because of small risks.
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Old 23-03-2012, 16:39   #5
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Re: Depressed and close to giving up

Destiny, my freinds living on Utila, seem to think it is an isolated incident.

The catamaran this happened on, according to Belize7 news, was anchored there for a few days, a charter out of the moorings.. By keeping up with the gossip... it is entirely possible that you will have plenty of time you sail over and, if necessary, around the Tobacco Cayes... keep on touch with me. I have a close freind who lives IN Belize who is following this and another on Utila..
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Old 23-03-2012, 16:43   #6
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Sometimes we all focus on the "outliers", the events, good or bad, that stick out and attract our attention. The stabbing, the boarding, the incredible bad weather, etc...

It is our human nature to focus on these things, why else does the media and news serve us this every day of our lives? But do these events represent what statistically is likely to happen to us in our everyday lives? No, it doesn't.

As an long term expat American I can definitively say that American cities are dangerous. Does that mean I am not going to take my irish wife to New York just because we hear on the news that 3 irish people were stabbed or shot last month, no of course it doesn't.

Life is about living, but it is also about perspective and sad to say statistics. If you don't read the paper, browse the Internet or watch tv you will never be afraid and will just acti cautiously and prudently in uncertain places. But as we all are in some way influenced by the media and it's peddling of sensationlist "outlier" events we also should think about the statistics as well.

Basically...what are the odds that you will experience a given event you are afraid of in a given place you would like to visit versus you experiencing something similarly horrible while still at home.

Usually it is safer to be travelling.

Sounds like you have worked hard to have this opportunity. Seems to me you should just go and if during your travels you feel increasingly uneasy, then go home. It's not like it is an either or situation.

This is really the wrong forum for you to hear advice that will tell you to stay at home, most here will yell, GO.

But my dad always said, "we ask advice from a source who we know will say what inside we really want to hear"
"So, rather than appear foolish afterward, I renounce seeming clever now."
William of Baskerville

"You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm."
Sidonie Gabrielle Colette
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Old 23-03-2012, 16:50   #7
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Re: Depressed and close to giving up

A great man once said "There is nothing to fear except fear itself"
Please put your fears in perspective and look at the numbers,how many crimes against vessels and occupants at sea as compared to people and cars on land.
Fear can cause Paranoia which feeds into itself giving nothing back but stronger fears.
Prepare as best you can and don't lose your faith in human nature,if you are still in doubt,,then travel with the pack.
Keep Smiling.
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Old 23-03-2012, 16:58   #8
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Re: Depressed and close to giving up

Originally Posted by Svdestiny View Post
Are we chicken s*%}ts or are we careful and prudent?
Not only are you in Florida, which has a high crime rate, you are in Marathon, which has a higher violent and other crime rate then Florida as a whole.

How paranoid are you where you are now?
If your attitude resembles the south end of a bull heading north, it's time to turn around.
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Old 23-03-2012, 17:10   #9
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Re: Depressed and close to giving up

I have recommended before the option of sailing down to Panama and the San Blas and then over to Colombia, but possibly this isn't the year to go. Frankly, I find cruising within the USA is about as cheap (and safe too) as anywhere, if you avoid marinas and eating out a lot. Why not hitch a ride on the Gulf Stream and sail up the coast to Georgia, the Carolinas, the Chesapeake and then New England for the summer? Heading north you're with the wind and current so you can burn very little fuel. You can anchor everywhere every night to save money. New England is about as safe as you can get--no dinghy theft to worry about, most of us leave our boats unlocked a lot of the time, there are no officials to worry about or that you have to pay for anything. No street crime in most places you would visit. Even if you don't make New England there is a lifetime of cruising around the Chesapeake, an infinite number of anchorages, and tons to see and do that is free or cheap, like the museums in Washington. Plus, a huge advantage of the Chesapeake over say the Rio is that you aren't cooped up in a little area all hurricane season. Maybe this is too dull for you, but if you haven't already tried it I think you might like it.
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Old 23-03-2012, 17:12   #10
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Re: Depressed and close to giving up

As others have already put it in different ways, this is more a "fear of the unknown" rather than an accurate risk assessment. Sure you have done your research but the analysis has been skewed by your owns fears. Otherwise one extra negative data point would not topple you over.

A rational assessment of your present location would have you running rather walking away except that it isn't an unknown location for you.

I am not saying you should or shouldn't go, that is your choice; just be clear about the factors you are considering in making that choice. I am sensing a fear of the unknown is clouding your decision making process.
All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangereous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. T.E. Lawrence
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Old 23-03-2012, 17:35   #11
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Re: Depressed and close to giving up

Take precautions, even in FL. That's all you can do anywhere. Aside from that....When your number's up it's up! Carry a gun if it makes you feel better. Or a couple of Co2 powered fishing spears.. they are short. In all the carribean, I never had an official come onto the boat except for the DR. They were very gracious and didnt look around very hard. Ditto for Mexico. I have been searched by the USCG!
"I spent most of my money on Booze, Broads and Boats. The rest I wasted" - Elmore Leonard

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Old 23-03-2012, 18:06   #12
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Re: Depressed and close to giving up

Destiny... go with the flow and get some more cruising in as per Kettlewell. The Northeast in summer sounds great. If you haven't read it pick up a copy of Carter's Coast of New England. I'd think it would be interesting and fun to retrace that trip and compare notes.
What the heck, you might decide to do some cold water sailing and head for Ireland!
IMHO I don't think your reaction to news like that is out of line at all and I do think that more cruising will create a balance and sooner or later a renewed optimism about sailing the western Carribean.
BTW... Talk about depressing... I fight it every day just trying to overcome boat issues and get the hell out. Just give me an excuse to worry about pirates etc. etc.
Best wishes and keep at it!
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Old 23-03-2012, 18:08   #13
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Re: Depressed and close to giving up

As humans, almost without fail we base our personal decisions on the information that comes to us and that has an emotional impact. For all our logic and reasoning abilities, the fact is that rarely do we actually use them to making the final call as to which side of the fence we end up going.

As I see it, one of the problems you're having is that you're overloading your decision making functions with information that is only reinforcing one side of the story -- the violent, fearful possibilities. Nowadays, that's easy to do, what with media all over the place and accessible anywhere. To make it even worse, we (again speaking as a species, not anyone in particular) tend to pay far more attention to threats and other anxiety-provoking events and the media is no different.

So, yes, I think you're getting quite a biased perception of things and the more wound up about it you get, the more attention you pay to the very things that are freaking you out.

Here's a fact: Right now, all of us are living in the era with the lowest incidence of violence, crime and war -- ever in recorded history. But, of the violence, crime and war that continues to happen, we all know about it, just about anywhere it is happening, very soon after it happens, in just about any degree of gory detail we want. And, the news media is very thankful for that.

Does this mean that if you decide to go, all will be well? No, of course not. S**t happens. It might happen to you if you decide to sit right where you are, too. 5 minutes from now a big green frozen gob of urine/feces might fall off an airplane and come crashing down right on your head. Don't laugh! It's happened!

As others have said, no matter which way you decide, be reasonable and take precautions. I've often told newbies that sailing and certainly cruising is a continuous process of calculating risk/benefit ratios, knowing full well that it will never equal zero, no matter how hard you try.

Just don't let yourself stew over it. Make a call and be OK with it. If being in more familiar surroundings helps, then go hang out for awhile in the Berrys; or up the coast to Jekyll Island and stuff yourself on that Low Country cooking; or up to Maine. But, don't let a freakish event, like Don Dryden's (RIP, Don) stop you from living your life. As awful as that was, it was truly rare thing, but those can and do happen anywhere.

Go in Peace, and Peace usually goes with You.

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Old 23-03-2012, 18:36   #14
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Re: Depressed and close to giving up

Driving a car is statistically more dangerous by far than cruising, yet you do not let the stats dissuade you from the good things that driving brings you. Same here. The stats are in your favor.

Staying with a herd is also good. Being not the most expen$ive boat out there is good. Think about those Moorings 8-person boats, they look rich. Does yours?

If it does, what about the eastern Caribbean? :-) If you can afford it, we have buddies who had a steel grating made for the two main hatches and one for the companionway, so they get air but nobody gets in when they are locked. All you have to do is slow them down enough to set off an alarm or air horn or call for help. These guys generally do not want a lot of attention.

Remember that in the Rio Dulce incident, at least two of the gang leaders were murdered within a month of the attack. Kind of a deterrent.

Be nice. Make friends. Carry Mace if you have to, and a way to call outside aid from within the boat. We've even known folks who had a flare gun with an insert that accepted 12-gauge shotgun shells. Undetectable until needed. But our advice would be to not shoot anybody: you never know to what government official some would-be pirate is related. Much better to mace him with a dye, so his relative can tell him how stupid he looks with a blue face, rather than having to come after you for killing his sister's boy.
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Old 23-03-2012, 18:40   #15
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Re: Depressed and close to giving up

Wow. Thank you all so much for your thoughtful responses.

We are going to take a deep breath and think about what has been written here.

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