A firearm conundrum
I read your article online on the pros and cons of guns on board with special interest. A month ago we were sailing our Jeanneau 53 in the western region of the Flores Sea in Indonesia, and at 2300 one night we were very aggressively pursued by a completely unflagged, unmarked 30m commercial vessel with some very dodgy-looking men on board. I believe they were after the 30 red jerrycans full of diesel on our deck.
Did I wish we had a shotgun with us? Yes and no. Yes, because if they boarded us I would would have some way to defend us and the yacht. No, because if you haul a gun up on deck you’d better be prepared to use it... to injure or at worst kill someone.
Yes, because the idea of simply surrendering to a bunch of thugs terrifies me and seems desperately hopeless. No, because I know these guys are just after the diesel and cash and would have more than likely just left us alone after taking the fuel.
Piracy in Indonesia is almost always aimed at small commercial vessels, firstly for their fuel and then secondly for cash and valuables. Boarding sailing yachts and robbing is extraordinarily rare. Kidnapping is hard work and murder by thieves in this part of Asia very rare. Kidnapping from yachts in south-east Asia is usually committed by the Abu Sayyaf (south-east Asia arm of Al-qaeda) in the southern Philippines, for ransom.
Fortunately, we were able to rev up our 110hp turbo diesel Yanmar, alter course and out-run these buggers... this time.
I’m still in two minds about a gun, though. Also, in Indonesia, one must declare all firearms upon entry to the country, which makes possesion of them complicated. I’m unsure if you must surrender the firearm as we have never tried to carry one. The Canadian in me says: “No guns, no sir!” But after having experienced this event, I just don’t know.
I’ve never owned a gun myself and don’t have any inclination to possess one.
But having spent 25-plus years at sea ranging all over the planet and having had several piracy attempts on vessels I’ve been crewing, I have to acknowledge I probably wouldn’t be here if we did not have the ability to protect the vessel from boarding via firearms onboard.
Having armed, professionally trained members of the crew or hired security is a no-brainer in certain areas of the world.