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Venezuela: Shooting Attack on Yacht

Sent by Dave Jones
Yacht Navarna III (a Fisher 37 British registered)

On Saturday 7th April motoring along the Venezuelan coast just past Tres Puntos, I noticed a penero coming up astern about a mile away. Looking through binoculars I saw 4 men armed with AK47s and shotguns.

I headed north out to open sea at full speed. They came up on my stb’d quarter and shot out the aft window in the wheelhouse. A piece of glass hit my crew member in the neck and I told her to get below. I was not going to stop, they were trying to kill us I have no doubt about that.

They fired 16 shots to the hull and wheelhouse shooting most of the windows out. I sustained a head and shoulder wound.

I returned fire with the only weapon I had, a large older flare gun, which I fired at the pirates at close range (about 30 feet) on my port quarter. I headed into the swells at full speed so my vessel was almost bouncing off the waves making it difficult for them to board, plus the added threat of them being lit up by a flare.

Eventually after realizing they wouldn’t be able to board me in the fading light they broke off the attack. These men, or at least two of them, had military training by the nature of their shooting.

After my experience I would carry a firearm in future. I’ve read and heard all the advice from the armchair Rambos – smoke screens, pepper spray etc., Once these thugs are on board you have no chance. Keep them at bay with a few shots and I’m sure they will break off their attack as they did with me.

(I feel that) cruising Venezuela now is out of control. There is no law enforcement anywhere in these waters, even if you do raise the coastguard or Guardia national they are not interested and most people think they are in cahoots with the pirates after you’ve checked out. I actually live and work in Venezuela and have travelled along the coast of Paria more then a dozen times, but in recent years there have been reports of serious aggrevated attacks on cruisers.

This attack on me was more like a terrorist attack. No warning shot in the air, just one through the wheelhouse window and then when I didn’t stop, it was a full on shooting of the boat. I have five bullets to the hull at the waterline, and the rest to the wheelhouse and windows. I called the Trinidad coastguard who monitored my progress but no assistance was given by any coastguard or military agency. The Trinidad coastguard did come to my assistance once I was in the Boca at Trinidad.

Lawlessness is rife in Venezuela now, a great pity as most of the people are warm and friendly. After 20 years cruising these waters it’s time to move on.

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2 Responses to “Venezuela: Shooting Attack on Yacht”

  1. Charles Rouse Says:

    Do you know what brand of binoculars? They must be amazing to identify the number and type of weapons at a distance of 1 mile. I assume these amazing binoculars also aided in the identification regarding the type of training these pirates had. I have got to get some because pirate alley is where I am headed.

    This is the wildest pirate story I have read.

    BR, enroute to South Africa via Thailand

  2. Jim Grouse Says:

    I hope Charles Rouse makes it alive. Ostriches don’t have a good record when up against hungry lions. At one mile, almost any nautical binoculars can display quite accurately what is out there. However, the comment about “military training” was after the attackers had closed to 30 feet or less where unless you are seriously near-sighted anybody with their own military background can recognize professional firearms training. Add in a recent attack on a cruiser by a boat of actual Venezulean military – in uniform – any it is easy to deduce military training.
    As to “wildest story” this one is tame compared to the 100 other pirate attacks in Venezulean waters/harbors this year alone. Even ONZA, the Venezulean government website on security, lists the entire Paria peninsular as “hot” and should be avoided by cruisers.

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