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Old 18-02-2021, 10:22   #1
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Hostile acts against cruisers underway in the Caribbean

I plan to sail from Colon, Panama to Punta Gorda Florida by way of the Yucatan Channel this Spring, passing just East of Isla Andreas and Isla Providencia on my way North. Has anyone heard of any hostile acts against cruisers under way offshore in that part of the Caribbean?

Also, I understand that the Cuban territorial waters extend 12 miles from its land mass. Putting aside ideal course, does anyone know whether you need to give the West end of Cuba a wider berth than 12 miles when passing through the Yucatan Channel?

Thank you.
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Old 19-02-2021, 10:38   #2
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Re: Hostile acts against cruisers underway in the Caribbean

One of the sailing videos on Youtube made mention of troubles off Bocas del toro. I could never find any specifics though. I would say try to get a buddy boat or at least several crew to go with you just in case.
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Old 19-02-2021, 10:45   #3
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Re: Hostile acts against cruisers underway in the Caribbean

Thank you. Will have two able-bodied male crew with me and don't plan to pass very close to Bocas. Having a "buddy boat" is not likely to be "in the cards".
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Old 19-02-2021, 10:56   #4
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Re: Hostile acts against cruisers underway in the Caribbean

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Originally Posted by On the rode View Post
Thank you. Will have two able-bodied male crew with me and don't plan to pass very close to Bocas. Having a "buddy boat" is not likely to be "in the cards".
Will pray for a safe passage for y'all! When I cruise to the Bahamas I am planning on being armed. Will declare properly of course. Just won't take any chances these days. Lower Caribbean i am still researching laws regarding it.
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Old 19-02-2021, 11:07   #5
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Re: Hostile acts against cruisers underway in the Caribbean

When we went through, the only issue was off the coast of Nicaragua for others. We stayed 100 miles off shore and did not stop in the Vivarios/Miskito coast. We were within 10 miles of Cuba, didn’t see a soul. We did notice a Mexican Navy vessel SE of Cozumel. Never had any problems around Bocas del Toro, Providencia and Albuquerque Cays were tons of fun. San Andreas was OK. Keep an eye on CSSN (Caribbean safety and security net) for updates and changes.

And Have fun, the most dangerous part of your trip is probably Colon itself
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Old 19-02-2021, 11:08   #6
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Re: Hostile acts against cruisers underway in the Caribbean

I cruised the Bahamas in 2014 for 9 weeks and have lots of friends who have cruised the Bahamas since then for extended periods of time. None had any problems requiring a firearm. I own firearms and was an armorer in the Army. I am not opposed to firearms, but I would suggest that you research the rules regarding firearms aboard in the Bahamas. As I understand it, many places around the World require you to surrender your firearms when you enter their jurisdiction, and regardless of how far your travels in their jurisdiction take you and where you are planning to go next, you first have to travel back to your point of entry to retrieve your firearms. Not very practical in many instances.

Good luck.
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Old 19-02-2021, 12:19   #7
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Re: Hostile acts against cruisers underway in the Caribbean

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I cruised the Bahamas in 2014 for 9 weeks and have lots of friends who have cruised the Bahamas since then for extended periods of time. None had any problems requiring a firearm. I own firearms and was an armorer in the Army. I am not opposed to firearms, but I would suggest that you research the rules regarding firearms aboard in the Bahamas. As I understand it, many places around the World require you to surrender your firearms when you enter their jurisdiction, and regardless of how far your travels in their jurisdiction take you and where you are planning to go next, you first have to travel back to your point of entry to retrieve your firearms. Not very practical in many instances.

Good luck.
Yes agree with that as well. In the same boat (well almost) as you background wise. Retirement will allow me more "flexibility" with US territorial possessions though. Bahamas should be pretty easy. Would not even dream of going to Australia or NZ with them.
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Old 19-02-2021, 12:32   #8
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Re: Hostile acts against cruisers underway in the Caribbean

Also sailed in 2019/2020 from West Coast of Florida to the VI's by way of the Keys and then Eleuthera, and from the VI's down the Leewards to Martinique and then on to the ABC's to wind up in Colon Panama, and never felt the slightest need for firearms. I did stay away from Venezuela and passed up a chance to sail through Los Roques because of all of the unrest in Venezuela.
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Old 19-02-2021, 13:25   #9
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Re: Hostile acts against cruisers underway in the Caribbean

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Originally Posted by On the rode View Post
I plan to sail from Colon, Panama to Punta Gorda Florida by way of the Yucatan Channel this Spring, passing just East of Isla Andreas and Isla Providencia on my way North. Has anyone heard of any hostile acts against cruisers under way offshore in that part of the Caribbean?



Also, I understand that the Cuban territorial waters extend 12 miles from its land mass. Putting aside ideal course, does anyone know whether you need to give the West end of Cuba a wider berth than 12 miles when passing through the Yucatan Channel?



Thank you.
Yep, and right on your route. The Nicaraguan Banks have been a problem area for years and attacks on cruising vessels underway have occurred there.

See CSSN for a database of reported events throughout the Caribbean...visualized on a handy map.

https://safetyandsecuritynet.org/


Note that both San Andreas and Providencia are great stops and its not uncommon to see both the Colombia CG and the USCG in the area, but further out on the Nica Banks is a bit wild west. I think because of jurisdictional disputes and because the E Coast of Nica is an "autonamous" region where the Gov takes a mostly hands off policy.

Running well off shore is not sufficient as reported attacks have happened up to 150nm offshore.

However, many/most vessels transit this area without incident.

Ive never heard of any security issues off the coast of Cuba. Under UN convention, which most nations are a member (not sure about Cuba) vessels are allowed "innocent passage" thru territorial waters. Ive crossed thru Cuban territorial waters w/out incident or interception by Cuba authorities multiple times. However, I did have a USCG copter drop down to the deck very close by once and look at me (yep, close enough I could clearly see the crew), while I was right on the edge of Cuban waters...as if to say "dont even think about going to Cuba". Funny, I was contemplating exactly that when they dropped in! Mind reading RADAR?
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Old 19-02-2021, 13:50   #10
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Re: Hostile acts against cruisers underway in the Caribbean

Thank you so much BelizeSailor. That was very helpful and the link to the web site is a gem. Be well and stay safe!
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Old 19-02-2021, 13:54   #11
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Re: Hostile acts against cruisers underway in the Caribbean

Off the coast of Nicaragua for sure. Also, Colon for sure. Take a taxi everywhere, eg provisioning.
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Old 19-02-2021, 14:09   #12
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Re: Hostile acts against cruisers underway in the Caribbean

Bringing a gun to the Bahamas is about as useful as bringing ice skates.

And it's a royal pain in the neck. They insist on an exact count of the bullets on check-in. And will inspect that you have the same number when you check out. Only cruisers with guns have to go to customs to check out. Everyone else can just go home. And don't think of not checking out properly if you ever hope to come back to Bahamas.

The Bahamas has a problem with gun smuggling and the local police take it seriously. I had an American cruiser friend who was taken off his boat and locked up overnight on a paperwork mixup about his gun (which he had checked-in but somehow things got confused).
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Old 19-02-2021, 14:11   #13
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Re: Hostile acts against cruisers underway in the Caribbean

East of San Andreas is considered safe.
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Old 19-02-2021, 14:41   #14
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Re: Hostile acts against cruisers underway in the Caribbean

Thanks. My route is indeed East of San Andreas and Providencia, at least until I get quite a bit North of Providencia.
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Old 19-02-2021, 15:30   #15
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Re: Hostile acts against cruisers underway in the Caribbean

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Bringing a gun to the Bahamas is about as useful as bringing ice skates.

And it's a royal pain in the neck. They insist on an exact count of the bullets on check-in. And will inspect that you have the same number when you check out. Only cruisers with guns have to go to customs to check out. Everyone else can just go home. And don't think of not checking out properly if you ever hope to come back to Bahamas.

The Bahamas has a problem with gun smuggling and the local police take it seriously. I had an American cruiser friend who was taken off his boat and locked up overnight on a paperwork mixup about his gun (which he had checked-in but somehow things got confused).
It's ironic, that the Bahamas, one of the safest places you can cruise, allows you to bring firearms in, while many other countries that really are dangerous, don't.

I was assigned to and worked with the Bahamian police, as a U.S. federal agent, on a task force years ago in the Bahamas. Guns are becoming a problem there, but my experience was that most of them come in with the people smuggling drugs through the Bahamas, not yachtsmen. It's quite easy for them to pick up guns after dropping off coke or weed in south Florida and a lot of the smugglers do carry guns for protection from other dopers (which they will throw into the ocean at the first sign of the police about to board them).

But, that doesn't mean the Bahamians don't take yachtsmen, or anyone else, violating their guns laws seriously, because they most certainly do.

But, as far any danger to a cruising yachtsman, the Bahamas are so well patrolled that you can raise help on channel 16 most of the time. I know when I was there (2003), there were seven helicopters dedicated to nothing but patrol of the Bahamas. They are all monitoring channel 16. There are also several other people monitoring. I would not be surprised to find out there are even more patrol helicopters in the Bahamas these days.

Now, walking around in parts of Nassau at night? That's a whole other story.
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