It's been a while since I visited Cruising Forum and this thread.
We were very happy to be able to escape Samal Island in March.
So to correct the record
on some of the previous post I'll update the situation.
The Marina Management did upgrade security
after the attack. Within days the surrounds were fenced in barbed wire, towers were built in each of the outer corners and another inner gate was constructed. The security
company that was guarding the marina was replaced. At least one of the guards was complicate in the abduction. The other real deterrent was the stationing of an armed Philippines Coast Guard boat in the Marina.
Whilst all these measures were put in place it still didn't guarantee safety
. We were advised by Philippines Authorities to practice extreme caution when leaving the compound as we were easily identified and it was known that we were witnesses for the police case against the attackers.
There are only a few boats left in the marina that were there the night of the attack. Most, like us, have moved on as soon as the weather
season permitted. New boats continue to arrive however, believing the marina to be safe.
Boats did not arm themselves. In fact had any of the boats had weapons the night of the attack little could have, or would have been done. The attackers had surprise, determination and automatic weapons on their side. We were right in the middle of the attack and it wasn't immediately obvious to us what was happening. Initially we thought it was simply a domestic dispute.
I know a lot of cruisers have stayed in the Philippines because of the easy, cheap
and enjoyable lifestyle. For us that wasn't an option. The Philippines is a wonderful country, however, safety
can not be guaranteed and the world has a lot of oceans that are just as enjoyable and very safe.
A lot of cruisers hang out in places like Bonbonon thinking that it is perfectly safe just as we had been lead to believe about Samal Island. I don't believe that to be the case, in fact Bonbonon is closer by sea to the troubled Sulu region that Samal Island is.
There has been some discussion as to whether the attackers are terrorists or thugs. That is a moot point. Dead is dead and trust me when automatic weapons and large knives are being brandished they instill terror into their intended victims. The Abu Sayaf Terrorists are both thugs and terrorists. They do what the do in the name of Allah and swear allegiance to ISIL. They demand ransoms to finance their campaigns.
We only went to Samal Island because every one had said how safe it was and it was out of the typhoon belt. We needed to haul out
and it was the ideal place. That all changed 3 days after our arrival.
Since leaving we cruised north through the Philippines to Taiwan
and are about to cross to South Korea
. Now these countries are safe. The people are extremely friendly and the cruising so much more enjoyable and interesting. Sure it isn't as cheap
all the time but cruising isn't always about the cost. Mind you we are currently sitting in a very new marina with power and water
that is cheaper than what we paid at Samal Island Oceanview.
We still hear from our friends in the Philippines and a lot of them feel safe and happy. It obviously a personal choice. Just not our choice.
I don't think that comparing the risk to say Chicago is of any relevance. More people get killed by Vending Machines than sharks. I am still a lot happier to risk getting a drink from a machine that swimming with sharks. Chicago is a completely different scenario.
It is the risk assessment that every boat needs to do that is the issue. In Palawan the development is all in the North. Growing resentment to the rich will fester in the south and less privileged areas. The development of Oceanview didn't keep any of us safe, if anything it made us targets.
Of note only a very few yachts were attacked by Somali Pirates, however it certainly stopped a lot of circumnavigating boats in their tracks in Thailand
. it isn't an over reaction to be cautious.
The Sulu region, Southern Midinao, Southern Palawan and the Northern Malaysian Borneo are extremely unpredictable areas because of the existence of muslim extremists. You just never know. The problem is if you are going to travel to the Philippines you are probably going to have to travel through at least 2 of these regions. Prior avoidance planning and extreme vigilance is prudent for any would be cruiser. Don't be complacent, you really do need to be aware and expect the worst, just as you would with weather
We still check news sights for any word on the fate of our fellow cruiser Tjarten. Last notice was that the Abu Sayaf captors were going to execute him. Nothing has been posted so we just don't know.
Keep him in your thoughts.