A firearm co­nun­drum

Yachting World - - Front Page -

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.

Bill Brem­ner

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.

Rob Slater

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