Friday, November 14, 2008

Death of a sailor friend--shot by a pirate

We are very saddened to learn of the death of a fellow sailor we met last year.  The day we arrived in New Zealand and got WiFi internet access I read Houston Chronicle online and learned of the death of one of the nicest men we have ever met.  He was a fellow sailor and a fellow Houstonian, but the Chronicle article never mentioned that he was a local guy.

We met Ken and Cathy Peters on S/V CHILL in Carriacou in May 2007.  They were the kind of cruisers who actively gave back to the communities they visited.  For example, they volunteered to design and build a childrens playground on one island at no cost to the local residents, even for the construction materials.  

In late June 2007 we sailed in their company along with 5 other boats from Grenada to Porlamor, Isla Margarita, one of the islands north of mainland Venezuela.  Bill and I felt an instant rapport with these 2 fellow Houstonians.  

As you know, we sailed on westward.  Cathy and Ken stayed in the Caribbean, mainly because they felt the need to be near their elderly parents in case health issues should arise.  We lost contact but last we heard was that Ken and Cathy were enjoying Venezuela very much.  As has been reported on many of the sailing blogs, the conditions for all foreign sailors in Venezuela have deteriorated during summer of 2008; and Ken and Cathy were preparing to leave.  The only reason they had not left earlier was because of the death of Cathy`s mother a month or so ago.

They, in company with another cruising boat, S/V I Lean, had sailed to the state park of Mochima, anchored so they could clean the hull and  planned to depart Venezuela the next morning. and sail to the Dutch ABC islands.  Around sunset a small panga (local boat) with 3 men approached and asked for water.  Ken was handing down 3 bottles of water when one of the men pulled a gun and shot Ken twice in the chest.  Ken died instantly.  When this shooting happened, Steve's wife ran below below and brought up his shotgun and Steve fired into the panga.  There are varying stories as to whether he killed one of the assailants and wounded another or whether any or all 3 men were wounded by the shotgun blasts.   It doesn`t really matter.  The important thing is that this cruiser did manage to chase away the assailants after they killed Ken.  Score one for carrying a shotgun on your boat when sailing in Caribbean waters.

There is on active investigation by the Venezuelan police into this murder and attempted robbery, but  I do not think I have violated any private information in relaying what I have written here.  The same information has been posted by others in the comments section for the article published by the Houston Chronicle online.

Our very deepest sympathies go out to Cathy.  We hope she has God`s grace to sustain her under such a burden.  This was so totally senseless.

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