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Old 21-01-2014, 15:18   #76
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Re: St Lucia murder

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Originally Posted by Lake-Effect View Post
Homicide rate is maybe an indicator of the overall level of violent crime, but not necessarily reflective of what a foreign visitor will experience. Speaking for myself, I would not put that much stock in it.

I would put more stock into something like a travel advisory, which will highlight considerations that are specific to visitors.
I agree - I'd put more stock in a travel advisory from a trusted source vs. statistics. For making quantitative comparisons across many countries, though, I would think the per capita homicide rate could be used for proportional comparisons. That is, higher homicide rate would likely mean more risk, etc.
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Old 21-01-2014, 16:18   #77
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Re: St Lucia murder

First, my condolences to the family - truly an awful experience. That said from my perspective the point of this forum is for learning so let's do discuss it.

I absolutely agree with MarkJ: Cruisers, lock your damn boats!!!! Anyone who can't be bothered and gets burgled or robbed has no one to blame but themselves. Harsh, but true. There is crime in the world, now deal with it. Or more accurately, manage your risks as you do in other aspects of cruising. And in the end be certain that your home is a castle (sans cannon) and you can pull up the drawbridge. Hatches that can't be locked from the inside don't count. Hatches locked with a padlock and hasp are a bad joke: a large screwdriver will open them in a single stroke. My solution: try a proper deadbolt on a reinforced drop board - it can't be opened short of sawing or hacking with an axe or possibly a machete (but by then I will be awake with a nasty reception). I sleep very well because it is locked every night, everywhere. And yes, it has stopped burglars at 3AM on occasion.

I also agree with Jedi: Listen to other cruisers, noonsite, US State Dept advisories, wherever you can and then avoid extreme risk. For the rest adapt behavior to minimize risk. When arriving in a new port ask about risks, about where/when one should/should not be, about how to act to be safe. Always be aware of surroundings. I mostly agree with his list; one exception is Trinidad which has been a good stop for me (twice) and I recommend it for avoiding the hurricane season. It also requires doing your homework before going anywhere on the island on your own - there are real dangers. Consider having Jesse James (local tour company) arrange your sightseeing. IIRC Jedi is aboard in Colon - not a place with a good reputation at all. But clearly possible.

It is probably impossible to cruise in places completely devoid of thieves. So just be prepared. Other nuggets: leave the diamond rings back home! Fingers have been cut off to get them. They stand out, and get the wrong sort of attention. Ditto for expensive (and expensive-looking) watches - wear cheap plastic watches; they are just as accurate and won't attract attention. Even fake Rolexes can put you at risk.

Travel smart (and a little paranoid).

Greg
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Old 21-01-2014, 16:30   #78
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Re: St Lucia murder

I offer my sincere condolences to the Pratt family and their friends. This was a terrible thing to happen to a couple just venturing off to enjoy a wonderful period of their lives--tragically cut short.

Having said that, I am following with interest those islands considered safe and those not. I've seen some of the Caribbean and while I would like to see more, I don't have the comfort level there I do while cruising in the Med. I would not consider bringing our boat into the Caribbean.
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Old 21-01-2014, 17:28   #79
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Re: St Lucia murder

So far the only person with the courage to stand up and name specific places to steer clear of is Jedi.

Thank You Jedi. We will be staying clear of the places you mention.

We're heading to the Caribbean in a month or two and really can't be fussed putting up with crime and nasty violence. I've had enough of it in a past life in New Guinea and see no reason to reproduce that madness in my retirement. The less I see of the grubs of the human race, the better.
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Old 21-01-2014, 17:37   #80
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Re: St Lucia murder

Talking of safety, how safe is florida considered for cruisers? The Keys, etc? I would have expected the tourist board of St Lucia to have been a lot more vocal to assure cruisers they are safe there and why? This is not just a petty mugging after all!
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Old 21-01-2014, 17:49   #81
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Re: St Lucia murder

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So far the only person with the courage to stand up and name specific places to steer clear of is Jedi.
I don't think you have to steer clear of all those places. We've chartered from St. Lucia and had a great time. Started in St. Lucia, Stopped in Blue Lagoon St. Vincent, Bequia, Canouan and Tobago Cays. We just stayed clear of certain places. I believe the area this attack occurred is not recommended as an overnight stop. I think its always best to be in an area with other boats as well - sounds like they may have been the only boat?
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Old 21-01-2014, 18:04   #82
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Re: St Lucia murder

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I don't think you have to steer clear of all those places. We've chartered from St. Lucia and had a great time. Started in St. Lucia, Stopped in Blue Lagoon St. Vincent, Bequia, Canouan and Tobago Cays. We just stayed clear of certain places. I believe the area this attack occurred is not recommended as an overnight stop. I think its always best to be in an area with other boats as well - sounds like they may have been the only boat?
So, Rodney Bay is safe when following your logic? And Blue Lagoon is safe too? You have just named two of the most dangerous spots of the East Caribbean. Rodney Bay is where a Dutch sailor was murdered and his wife raped to near death. It's where I had to resort to violence to repel a boarder. Many incidents incl. multiple murders (all on boats anchored) have occurred there. Numerous more ashore.

Blue Lagoon, how can you come up with that place as being safe? The track record of Blue Lagoon is longer than that of Dillinger. Last time I sailed past, charter boat captains were trying to run their dinghies over fleeing swimmers who had attacked them just before that.

I agree with Bequia, Canouan and Tobago Cays, which is why I did not list them

On Trinidad: it was Mark and somebody I spoke to IRL yesterday who have changed my mind on Trini. I do realize it has become more dangerous than when we were there last, plus you run a high risk of encountering Venezuelan pirates on your way in and again on your way out. Extreme violence has been used there.
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Old 21-01-2014, 18:17   #83
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Re: St Lucia murder

No disagreement that the direction is wrong in Trinidad, but still a good place to get things done and lovely people. Organized touring with Jesse seems safe enough. Wandering around anywhere at night there is a bad idea. But daytime in Chaguaramas seems safe, and can be quite civilized. Tobago is a worthy stop as well.

There is no argument at all about Venezuela: scary dangerous. I spent 6 months there in '95 and it was bad. Since then, with the "Bolivarian Revolution" (i.e. Hugo Chavez' reign) violent crime has increased by 4 or 5 TIMES! There have been incidents between Trinidad and Grenada but not very common. The important point is to give Venezuela a very wide berth - the cancer is spreading.

I'm still interested in Jedi's take on Colon, Panama. When I transited the canal in '94 it was considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world. One did not wander around town alone...

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Old 21-01-2014, 18:25   #84
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Re: St Lucia murder

I am almost afraid to post because I am new and not looking for confrontation. I have sailed the entire caribbean (part time) in the past 22 months. I will admit I was naive in the first year and assumed crime happens to others and didn't give it much thought. After some uncomfortable situations I became much more cautious. I have enjoyed the Caribbean but feel more comfortable from the Saintes north. Probably will stay North. I am shocked by the story of the Pratts. It could be any one of us. Think about that. I have put myself in that position of being anchored off a "locals" town with no other boats in sight. I now feel I was a sitting duck. I think we all choose this awesome cruising lifestyle and know it comes with inherent risk. Probably more risk than we thought after living in extremely secure countries. I think we can focus on staying in promoted secure areas but I also feel we should not be indefensible. I am amused by all the gun - anti - gun arguments that litter this site. Americans are much more comfortable with the idea of self protection than other countries/cultures. If I choose this lifestyle I also choose to be prepared for the worst at sea or at anchor. It helps me sleep. I also lock down at night and I think the sensor alarms are a great idea and maybe with a loud siren and lights. After all we just want the guys off the boat. I guess my goal is to say there is no "safe" place just some safer than others. There have been beatings and robberies in Simpson bay lagoon which I consider very comfortable. No matter where you are by boat have a plan for what to do when your boarded. Having no plan would be like crossing an ocean without life raft or sat phone. The technology exists for safer passage and safer anchoring.
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Old 21-01-2014, 18:25   #85
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Re: St Lucia murder

I'm not saying they are "safe". I don't think any place is truly safe. Just that I think some of these places can be visited. Maybe Blue Lagoon is no longer a good place to visit. We felt safe when we were on Sunsail's dock a little over a year ago.

Haven't been to Rodney Bay, but have to Marigot Bay and felt safe there. Moorings base is in Rodney Bay now, so when we do charter out of there, we will be starting there. I think if it was such a bad place to warranty avoiding it completely, they probably wouldn't be there. But I believe it's a pretty large bay, isn't it? Perhaps like any place, just like there are better places on an island, maybe there are better places within Rodney Bay?

Edit - I did a little looking. Looks like the attack you mention was from 2006? By your logic, I guess I shouldn't visit Times Square either - there's been attacks..etc there as well. Clearly there can be issues, but I don't think its happening so often that the entire country needs to be avoided - caution just needs to be used.
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Old 21-01-2014, 19:00   #86
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Re: St Lucia murder

Living aboard on the Caribbean since 1995 I am only slightly surprised by this attack and murder. A few years ago a patrol boat was given by local marine businesses to the police and patrolling began. Crime rapidly was reduced after this.

Patrolling year after year became more relaxed. Police busier telling yacht skippers not to anchor here or there although there are no indications not to anchor. Patrolling became very reduced especially a month after the ARC arrivals.

St Lucia is not the most dangerous island but still presents an important risk. St Vincent is far more dangerous. Bequia is not at all safe, many boardings, attacks, robberies. Even at the Tobago Cays a couple was attacked at night. Of course Union was in the spotlight this season as well.

Venezuela is simply the country with the worlds worst homicide rate. Stay far away.

Trinidad has a bad homicide rate but attacks on yachts are quite rare. We yachties are limited to a small isolated portion of the island where police outnumber citizens I think. Attacks by pirates between Trini and Grenada? One some 3 to 4 years ago but nothing since. Still... I witnessed strange goings on between my boat and an buddy boat two years ago by a fishing peniero equipped with 3 125HP outboards. He stopped between us, examining the situation and evaluating the distance of the catamaran following us and then gunned the engines sailing on towards Venezuela. We were 7 miles out from Trinidad around 3 in the afternoon.

The Caribbean is more dangerous than safe yes. The Dutch and French islands are relatively safe except for St Martin. Carriacou is OK. At Grenada the risk is to your property not your health.
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Old 21-01-2014, 19:29   #87
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Re: St Lucia murder

Well all.
I certainly feel pretty sad to hear this news.

I will be getting to St. Lucia around May 20 or so to leave on an airplane.

How will my wife and I find a way out by air? The boat could be there two days before. Heave to offshore? Sneak into beach at 0400 to infiltrate to airport by 0900?

Seriously though. What to do. Tickets non refundable ya know.
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Old 21-01-2014, 19:56   #88
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Re: St Lucia murder

Therapy, I'd be far more concerned about your life with the taxi ride to the airport. That was the most dangerous part of our 8 days in that area. Nearly in a big head on accident due to a truck passing coming downhill right at us!
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Old 21-01-2014, 20:01   #89
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Re: St Lucia murder

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Well all.
I certainly feel pretty sad to hear this news.

I will be getting to St. Lucia around May 20 or so to leave on an airplane.

How will my wife and I find a way out by air? The boat could be there two days before. Heave to offshore? Sneak into beach at 0400 to infiltrate to airport by 0900?

Seriously though. What to do. Tickets non refundable ya know.
I guess sail into Rodney Bay Marina and take a marina-suggested taxi to the airport
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Old 21-01-2014, 20:06   #90
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Re: St Lucia murder

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Edit - I did a little looking. Looks like the attack you mention was from 2006? By your logic, I guess I shouldn't visit Times Square either - there's been attacks..etc there as well. Clearly there can be issues, but I don't think its happening so often that the entire country needs to be avoided - caution just needs to be used.
You can downplay to ease your mind. If you need more recent incidents, they are all recorded in the logs of the Caribbean Safety and Security net. Here you find St Lucia:

THE NORTHERN WINDWARD ISLANDS: Martinique, St. Lucia, Barbados | Caribbean Safety and Security Net

How many cruisers have been attacked on Times Square?
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