SPE­CIAL RE­PORT

Yachting World - - Front Page -

How safe is it to sail around the world and what pre­cau­tions do you need to take? We asked blue­wa­ter sailors who have cruised ar­eas in­clud­ing the Caribbean, Pa­cific and In­dian Ocean how safe they felt liv­ing aboard. Re­as­sur­ingly, none re­ported what they con­sid­ered to be any se­ri­ous in­ci­dents. They also shared tips on how they had im­proved se­cu­rity afloat.

The most fun­da­men­tal de­ci­sion ev­ery sailor said they made to re­duce risk was in their choice of route. Be­sides keep­ing abreast of the po­lit­i­cal cli­mate and other risks in the lo­cal press and on For­eign Of­fice web­sites, Noon­site (noon­site.com) pub­lishes reports of is­sues af­fect­ing cruis­ing sailors by re­gion, with a page ded­i­cated to piracy and se­cu­rity in­ci­dents.

The Caribbean Safety and Se­cu­rity Net (CSSN – safetyand­se­cu­ri­tynet.org) also pub­lishes reports made by yachts­men of in­ci­dents in the Caribbean, in­clud­ing the many thefts from un­se­cured yachts or dinghies.

Sue Richards, ed­i­tor of Noon­site, says: “Cruis­ers need to have their wits about them and re­search in ad­vance the rep­u­ta­tion a place has so they can pre­pare where to an­chor/moor, where to go and how to be­have once they get there. Twenty years ago, your av­er­age cruiser was pretty low pro­file. Nowa­days, there are many more out there do­ing it, on high-value boats with flashy kit. Con­se­quently, they are a hot tar­get.”

Stu­art Let­ton, who has sailed his Is­land Packet 45, Time Ban­dit, from Scot­land to the south­ern hemi­sphere, says he trusts his in­stincts when choos­ing a Caribbean an­chor­age. “We’ve never had any prob­lems but we have steered clear of some of the bays in St Lu­cia. St Vin­cent I’d never stop in an open bay again; a very un­pleas­ant vibe. I have to say, it’s one rea­son we’ve re­ally en­joyed the Pa­cific – the Caribbean with­out the has­sle.”

While vol­un­teer­ing for the Sea Mercy char­ity on his 47ft cata­ma­ran Shine of Ex­eter, Paul Whet­ter has vis­ited re­mote and pover­tys­tricken re­gions but says they have felt safe on board. “In our three years cruis­ing I can hon­estly say we never had any con­cerns. We trav­elled the well-trod­den path from the Med to Aus­tralia and were prob­a­bly more cau­tious in the Caribbean than any­where else and avoided Venezuela on pur­pose.

HELEN FRETTER

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