This is a report I received from Cliff Vaughs about what happened to him
Incident July 30, 2012, Catarasca Lagoon
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
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
, 150 gallons diesel fuel
, 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
Clifford A. Vaughs
Incidentally. I have an e-mail, which I’ll forward to the Agency, offering to regain my boat.