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Do Pirates Target Charter Yachts?

10_August_2012_somali_pirates10 August 2012, Most of the time in the world of sailing, we lay back, enjoy our day and let the wind take us to our idyllic destination.  However, sometimes our plans in life and in sailing can go awry and we need to plan our charter yacht vacations a little more carefully.  Safety is something every sailor should take seriously, so we wear life jackets and no slip shoes and we tie down our booms very carefully.  One hazard that we almost never think about but should is piracy.

Of course, in the modern day we think of pirates more like Depp in a Disney movie, or people who are terrible for stealing movies and music.  We don't think about armed men boarding our charter yacht in the middle of the night and demanding our valuable and account numbers at gun point.  Sadly, in some parts of the world, this is the case!  Being a smart sailor means knowing where the riskier parts of our world to sail your charter yacht are.

The good news is this: most of the time, pirates board large commercial vessels.  The reasoning of course is that a multi-billion dollar shipping company will pay out more money for 50 employees than you have sitting in your bank account.  It is only amateur or unsuccessful pirates that will prey on something as small as a personal sailing yacht.  Of course this news is a double edged sword, because bad pirates are desperate pirates and lack the professionalism of their successful friends.  If they board the ship, they will do dangerous things like rape, torture and murder to get what they want.

The best advice we can give is avoid chartering yachts in areas that have had a problem with piracy.  The ocean is a fairly large place and most of the best destinations don't suffer piracy issues.  The places to avoid are Chinese waters around Thailand and the Philippines, the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia and the coasts of Brazil.  Of course, the best sailing spots in the world for a charter yachts aren’t in those areas anyhow!  You can still safely travel the Mediterranean and the Caribbean without a worry in the world.  Stick to the northern part of the Caribbean, around the Bahamas and Virgin Islands, there are some problem spots near the coast of South America.

All in all, piracy should not be an issue when you charter a yacht and set sail.  It doesn't hurt to be prepared, but if you avoid the hot spots we mention above, there is no reason you can sail in comfort and peace of mind.  It never hurts to have the Coast Guard frequency for your radio, just in case.  Remember if you are ever concerned, your broker or captain will always help in reassuring you at the time.