[Moderator note] this thread has been edited to remove names and personally identifying info. It's stands however as a cautionary tale for those who seek crew positions to exercise caution. Not everyone is nice, reasonable or honest.
In December 2022 I wanted to have a quick sailing adventure, crewing
on a private sailboat to see the Exuma island chain in the Bahamas
. I got on Crewbay.com and found [redacted] a Beneteau
473 near Nassau
and heading South. I have been crew before and had wonderful times with wonderful boat
Not this time, sadly.
As it turned out, this trip ended on January 13th when I was forced [redacted] at gunpoint, to jump off his sailboat and swim for my life to a small Cay around 50 miles NorthWest of Georgetown
as he motored away with all my belongings. My iPhone
were already tossed overboard
, and I had only my passport and wallet in a fanny pack, a lucky stroke to even have that.
From the start, in Nassau
, I knew it was not going to be a great trip. His windlass
, his headsail was broken and did not work
, his wind
gauge was erroneous, just bad signs everywhere. But, I had prepaid my airfare and could not really afford to blow $500 more to get home, so I hoped for the best. Nick was (in my opinion) a nasty, negative, lonely old man, denigrating anyone and everyone…people with dogs
on their boat
, people with kids
on their boat, with loads of profanity laced diatribes about just about everything. He was also non communicative… no crew briefings, no plan, no ability to even read Navionics
to find fun spots to stop. Not so germane to what happened, but those early signs were an immediate damper on the goal of a fun-filled saunter through the Exumas
The terrifying events
started as we left Farmer’s Cay, when I did not see that one hatch
at the bow was closed but not dogged. As a result some water
got in as we chopped through the cut. He immediately started laying into me, berating and ragging on me for over an hour, as I sat there like a stone, praying it would not escalate. I figured if I gave him no direct confrontation, it would pass. But I got scared and started texting another boat owner we had met (to remain unnamed as he has a wife and kids
aboard) to please contact the coast guard, that I felt very threatened. I did not obviously know [redacted] had a handgun on board at that point, but I was really scared. To his credit, the other boat owner contacted the authorities, but when [redacted] found out, my $1200 iPhone
. I kept at it on my cellular iPad
, and guess what, that went in the ocean soon afterwards.
We were a half mile offshore
in the ocean and Nick told me I had two choices: jump overboard there and then, or he would dump me at whatever small Cay was closest. I said we should wait for the cops to show up and we could work through it. That lasted five minutes, and he ordered me to pack my bags as he gunned the engine
for the cut at Little Darby Cay. I started filming everything on my GoPro and that sadly enraged him, and after a scuffle to get past me (I thought was going for the knife drawer), he pulled the gun and all ‘discussion’ was over. I was at that point begging for my life.
He blew into the cut, grounded the boat trying to get to shore, then at gunpoint made me throw my GoPro and my VHF radio
overboard, then he pointed the gun at my head
(laser sight not a good thing when it is on you) and told me to jump, now. It was yes sir, I’m going, as you can imagine. About 50 yards off a tiny beach I jumped, and swam for my life.
I made it ashore with nothing but that, shorts and a t shirt, then it took me two hours to find a house on the Cay that had a VHF
there, and I radioed the sailor who had I had texted and he said a fast boat from Georgetown
was heading my way. I did find a person eventually, and got sheltered at another house where a research
outpost couple minds the store. At 7:30PM the fast boat arrived. They transported me back to Georgetown, and I spent 3 hours giving a detailed report to the police.
I spent the night on the couch of the Peace and Plenty hotel
next to the Government
building, and the next morning the kind ladies at the Tourism board arranged for American to get me out on the next flight home, with everyone saying they take this VERY seriously. Hah, right.
It took me a week, following [redacted] inReach and MarineTraffic track (he never turned it off amazingly), to get the Bahamian authorities to arrest him, but by the next evening he was out and free, and the authorities have not even bothered to call me to go over what can be done or why they let him go.
In hindsight, if he had just said up front he didn’t want me as crew and would get me home, I would have gone, I just couldn’t afford the ticket. Now of course that would have saved me about $5000 in stolen luggage and electronics
(and the psychological trauma involved), but as I cannot see the future, there was no way for me to predict the rage and gun and assault.
I tell this story publicly (and I have loads of supporting evidence to back it up, I would not name him and his boat otherwise) partly to warn the sailing community about this dangerous man, but also to encourage both boat owners (who are taking on crew for companionship, watches, anchoring
help etc) and crew looking to get on private boats (for fun, adventure or to gain miles) to be sure to do due diligence, both ways. For crew, remember that there is a huge power
dynamic, the owner holds all the cards and if they want you off the boat, you will be getting off. Will they pay to repatriate you? I believe they are supposed to by some law or another, but if they don’t, I doubt any government
will hold them accountable. The Bahamas
clearly did not in this case.
Los Angeles, CA