August 19, 2006 Saturday
In the past 3 weeks there have been 2 armed boardings of cruisers boats. The cruisers held a security meeting about a month ago, which resulted in a nightly dinghy watch -- sort of like a neighborhood watch back home. Someone is awake in the anchorage and looking for "bad guys" each night. They take 2-hour shifts to make certain that someone is on duty all night, every night. We do not think this is a great idea because one of these vigilantes is likely to get hurt or in trouble with the local laws if they try to apprehend any wrongdoer. After all, we are in a foreign country.
The first incident was quite a distance from us; the guy had anchored as close as possible to the airport so he was just off the largest city of Port of Spain. He was boarded well after midnight by 3 men carrying pistols. The boat owner claims to have fended them off with belaying pins and knives. We think he probably had his own gun (which would be quite illegal; you are supposed to declare any guns onboard to Customs when you check into the country and they take them away from you). But maybe he really did fight off 3 guys with guns by using knives; sounds doubtful to us. Anyway, no one on the boat was injured enough to require any medical care.
A couple of nights ago there was another armed boarding, this time here in the Chaguaramas anchorage. We are in
docked at a
marina. We are far less vulnerable than
the boats that are on anchor or mooring balls out in the harbor. Our marina has a security guard 24/7; there
is no guard or police protection whatsoever out in the anchorage. A Norweigian vessel was boarded about 3:00
a.m. by 3 men armed with guns. These men
had the same physical description of the 3 men who had boarded the vessel near Chaguaramas
Harbor a few weeks
ago. The dinghy description used to
approach both vessels was identical. Port of Spain
There also was the armed robbery of 2 cruisers in a maxi-taxi last month, plus several physical assaults and robberies of people walking along roadsides. So cruisers here are in an uproar. Several plan to leave as soon as they can complete various boat work projects, which will be in violation of the insurance requirement to stay below lattitude 10 degrees 50 minutes North.
Bill contacted the US Embassy here in
Trinidad. The Foreign Service Officer wants to become
involved. He has asked Bill to assist in
arranging a Wardens' Meeting regarding both the issue of immigration difficulties
and the issue of crime locally. Bill
will be making announcements on the VHF net each morning next week, and we hope
there will be a good turn-out of cruisers.
We believe that the only solution to this crime and immigration problem
will come from involvement of high level officials with the T&T
government. The Minister of Tourism
needs to have his eyes opened with some hard facts by someone with a bit of
authority. Bill did a brief analysis and
computed that the cruisers here contribute 30,000,000 TT dollars PER MONTH to
the Trinidad economy. They need to get on the ball and do something
before they lose this business. Cruisers
can and will go elsewhere if something is not done soon.
Many of the cruisers are writing letters and articles for various magazines and newspapers and online websites. We think this will have a very negative effect. We really wish they would wait until after the US Embassy has their meeting with the cruiser community and the local businesses and see what can be accomplished at a higher lever. Once these letters and articles are published, the damage to the Trinidadian economy will be fait accompli.
to have a Marine Police; but recently disbanded that unit. So now there is no police or protection
entity on the waters at all -- nothing whatsoever. The T&T Coast Guard is charged with only
the duty of protecting .
They are not responsible for the safety and security of cruising boats
within their waters. This is absolutely
nothing like the US Coast Guard. When
the Norweigian vessel gave a May-Day call the other night, the T&T Coast
Guard would not even respond. The Coast
Guard finally did respond after several cruisers got on the VHF and told them
that they must answer the May-Day call.
It took them more than an hour to respond, and they only had to travel
about 1 mile. This attitude is beyond
our comprehension. Guess we have been
spoiled by the US Coast Guard. Trinidad
Anyway, this won't concern us too much longer; as we are leaving for our Texas & Peru trip on September 1 and returning here the night of September 16. We plan to leave Trinidad as soon as possible after our retun on Sept. 16 and will be heading to
. As Judy told someone this morning, we plan to
jump out of the frying pan and into the fire.
BTW, Judy went shopping at a mall yesterday while Bill did a diving class. This mall was like being back in the
. Except there is not a waterproof digital
camera to be purchased anywhere in US Trinidad. We hope to find one in .
Judy did find new dishes for the boat and several new galley items. Haven’t like shopping in malls for years but
now it is something of a novelty and far more enjoyable. Houston
We now have our own set of Mexican Train Dominoes. Look out anyone who comes to visit us. You will be required to learn this game.