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Old 07-08-2012, 16:27   #1
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Attack in Honduras, report by Capt. Cliff Vaughs

From a post on the Bocas Net on Facebook:

Several folks had asked for more info regarding the incident concerning S/V Amistad off the coast of Honduras. Below is the report Captain Cliff Vaughs gave to the US Embassy. He is now safe in the US. I have no word about the boat.

"Incident July 30, 2012, Catarasca Lagoon, Honduras

On July 27, 2012 I was at anchor on Varillas Bank, Honduras. The Fuerza Naval Honduras boarded my vessel, S/V Amistad ( U.S. Documented 63135) to examine my documents. I asked for assistance in obtaining a quantity of transmission fluid (ATF Type A). They had non on board their patrol boat but agreed to inquire of fishing boats in the area. The following day they returned to indicate that none of the boats in the area carried the transmission fluid I required.. They advised me to go to Catarasca Lagoon where I would find a store to buy the fluid.
I broadcast a “Pawn” advisory concerning my intentions to enter Catarasca Lagoon. I arrived the evening of 29 July, 2012 and not wanting to try the entrance in darkness I anchored nearby. That night a squall occurred. High winds, stormy seas. I was blown off my anchor about five miles westward and deposited on a shoal bank.
I immediately broadcast a distress signal. “Mayday” giving my name , name of my vessel and position. I continued broadcasting a distress signal each fifteen minutes. There was no response although I sighted three unidentified vessels nearby. Direct calls to the Fuerza Naval Honduras went unanswered.
A small open boat approached to offer assistance. The outboard he used for propulsion was insufficient to tow me off the shoal. He left and said he would contact the nearby authorities. He left aboard my boat a crewmember who manned the VHF and presumably was in contact with the Fuerza Naval Honduras or other authority. I could hear the conversation but was unable to actually translate under the circumstances.
A group of men boarded my vessel and began to disconnect the anchor rode. I restrained them and ordered them ashore.
In retrospect they wanted to assure themselves that I was alone. They returned later in force, about fifteen men, bound me and began to remove everything from my boat. The identified “crewman” was with them. The man in the small boat also.
I went overboard to the beach with the clothes on my back. My two computers, three GPS units, cellular phone, four hundred dollars in US money ,ship batteries, 150 gallons diesel fuel, sails, Compass, four anchors, clothing, three months provisions…the inventory is extensive…gone. I was told that the naval station was five miles away to the east. The beach ended at the jungle. I turned back in despair. A torrential rain began. I could see the “pirate” boat standing a bit offshore. Some of the men had come from there. The remainder had appeared out of “nowhere”.
As I returned to the scene I watched as load after load was removed from my boat and disappeared into the jungle. I was quite exhausted. I prevailed on them not to leave me to perish on this uninhabited beach. A young boy was chosen to lead me out through the jungle to a “house”. He sympathetic, handed me a billfold, small, containing a life saving Debit card and Passport.
Two hours through thick underbrush. Swampland. At times wading through chest high water we entered a clearing with several houses. I looked around and saw the contents of my boat strewn on the ground with a long line of bearers coming through the jungle loaded with more.
The owner of the settlement was the man who had arrived that morning to query me.
They gave me a glass of water and bade me wait on the raised porch of the main dwelling. Four hours later I was urged into a small boat for a two hour journey to Lempira.
On the way to Lempira we stopped at a station of the Fuerza Naval Honduras. They were conversant with each other. I saw no real possibility of appeal. Miles away a different world.
One curious aspect though. ..I was walking through the streets when a man called out “Capitan, Capitan” there’s a phone call for you. The pirates apparently being friends locally had used my cellular phone to call my Chief Mate in the States. It was her, tearfully looking for me. She had been given the number of my captor.
So they are all complicit in this matter.

6 August, 2012
Atlanta, Georgia

Clifford A. Vaughs
Captain
S/V Amistad
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Old 08-08-2012, 08:42   #2
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Re: Attack in Honduras, report by Capt. Cliff Vaughs

This scenario has been visited many times on this site. We all know the arguments on both sides in regards to going to these areas or not. However, there is a more practical approach to induce the local authorities to provide protection and safety for those who wish to visit their country: namely, don't go. If they are not concerned by the lack of tourism and tourist dollars spent in their country, why would they be concerned for your safety? Spend your money in countries that appreciate the impact of tourism and are willing to provide safety, protection and support. Why risk a life changing experience for the worse when better alternatives are available? Cruising is not a Monopoly game where the winner is the one who collects the most properties(read visiting countries). It should be a collection of positive life enhancing experiences that enrichens the quality of your life. It's your choice, it's your life.
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Old 08-08-2012, 09:34   #3
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Re: Attack in Honduras, report by Capt. Cliff Vaughs

Boy thats the best reason to carry as much spare fluids for the engine and tranny that Ive ever heard !! Im not trying to fault anyone just saying I will be even more attentive to keeping as much fluids spares, as I can find room for !!
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Old 04-03-2013, 17:24   #4
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Re: Attack in Honduras, report by Capt. Cliff Vaughs

I think that is a reason to rely on your sails and wind, and not your engine. If the engine quits - then use your sails - after all - its a "sailboat". And, stay away from places that put you at risk.
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Old 05-03-2013, 11:33   #5
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Re: Attack in Honduras, report by Capt. Cliff Vaughs

Something doesn't sound right to me, so I have a few questions...

1. What is a pawn advisory?

2.He asked for assistance in obtaining tranny fluid?

3. Why broadcast a mayday when he was beached?

4. He dragged his anchor for FIVE miles?


OK, I know I have NEVER been outside the colregs demarc, but...


Pawn? maybe pan....I don't care how you pronounce it but when you spell it?

Do people not carry a few quarts of all of the fluids that might be needed?

Isn't a mayday for when a life is in danger?

Call me stupid if you want, but I think I am better prepared to go out of the U.S. than he was.

OR am I wrong about this?
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Old 05-03-2013, 11:41   #6
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pirate Re: Attack in Honduras, report by Capt. Cliff Vaughs

A comedy of errors...
aka.. a disaster looking for somewhere to happen..
Classic no research traveller..
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Old 05-03-2013, 11:45   #7
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Re: Attack in Honduras, report by Capt. Cliff Vaughs

Quote:
Originally Posted by Miniyot View Post
Call me stupid if you want, but I think I am better prepared to go out of the U.S. than he was.

OR am I wrong about this?
Everything usually goes pretty good until something goes wrong! You may think you are better prepared but maybe there is a couple of things that you forgot. At this point you only think that you are better prepared than that poor soul...and who at this time is to refute that it is not the case?

Sitting here I personally can think of 100 ways that you could get into trouble and would need help.

So what is your point?
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Old 05-03-2013, 11:47   #8
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Re: Attack in Honduras, report by Capt. Cliff Vaughs

This is a very odd story, though stranger things have happened. He spells a lot of things wrong too. I suspect he meant by "pawn" that he made a Pan-Pan call. I have been to the Vivorillo banks area and from there it is almost always a downwind sail on to the islands of Guanaja or Roatan where tranny fluid is readily available. That is a popular cruising boat route, and it would have been a better plan than to head to shore where there have been several instances of piracy in recent years. He may have been headed the other direction, into the prevailing easterly winds, and therefore felt he couldn't proceed without a working engine. Still, it would have been possible to sail from there to Providencia, even into the wind. It just sounds like he made some mistakes in judgment, which we are all prone to from time to time. Has anyone heard anything further about this incident from July 2012?
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Old 05-03-2013, 15:58   #9
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Re: Attack in Honduras, report by Capt. Cliff Vaughs

Let me set you all straight on this unfortunate episode. Cliff is a good friend and has sailed both the Caribbean and Pacific for 25 years as a single sailor. This was his second attempt to get from the Bay Islands to Providencia and on through the canal. The weather was rough the first go on the outside and beat him back to Roatan. After making repairs he tried again, but chose to stay close to shore. Again he had rough weather and had to anchor at night in unfamiliar waters. He was 74 at the time and no doubt was exhausted and fell asleep and woke up grounded. He was on his way to the Sea of Cortez to dock his boat, retire from active sailing, and kick back. The entire coastline from Columbia to the Yucatan is essentially a sparsely populated Indian reservation, with just a few towns here and there. The people are wonderful but really poor, and anything that washes up on the shore is a gift from the Gods.
Cliff is happily traveling in Europe with yet another great story to tell. Google him if you want, a very interesting guy.
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Old 05-03-2013, 16:08   #10
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Re: Attack in Honduras, report by Capt. Cliff Vaughs

Interesting fellow. It is tough to get from Honduras to Providencia against the wind and current, and in July you never know how long you've got before the next tropical wave or system comes through. Better to stay further offshore. I was told to stay out of sight of the mainland and not to use running lights at night. A Canadian boat disappeared a couple of weeks before I went through in the spring of 2007 and I never heard what had happened to them. The CG was calling around asking for any information.
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Old 05-03-2013, 16:17   #11
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Re: Attack in Honduras, report by Capt. Cliff Vaughs

It was a shame he didn't have an SSB, He had many friends, myself included, that were 24 hour away, that would have responded. He was a hard core lone sailor, not sure he did much checking in or out as he moved about. Not many like him left. His boat was a beauty.
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Old 05-03-2013, 16:28   #12
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Re: Attack in Honduras, report by Capt. Cliff Vaughs

i did some work on his boat for him in 94' in panama,nice guy ,i wish him well
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