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Pirates at Sea – Should Yacht Charter Clients Be Fearful?

Yacht charters in traditional cruising grounds are not a favorite target of pirates.

Four Americans taken hostage by Somali pirates off East Africa were shot and killed by their captors Tuesday, marking the first time U.S. citizens have been killed in a wave of pirate attacks plaguing the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean for years.

Should customers planning a luxury mega yacht charter vacation be concerned? Probably not.

In April 2009, travel writer Kim Kavin wrote how rare it is for pirates to attack charter yachts. “Piracy,” Kavin wrote, “simply is not a major concern among charter yachts operating in traditional cruising destinations, including the Western Mediterranean and Caribbean.”

Kavin is correct.  The events taking place this week aboard the private sailing yacht Quest have nothing to do with what charter guests can expect to experience. Why?  Because crewed sail boat charters and super yacht charters are not offered anywhere near the coast of Oman.

Hijackings off the coast of Somalia accounted for 92% of all ship seizures in 2010 (source: International Chamber of Commerce). Somali pirates routinely attack yachts and commercial ships off the coast of Yemen and Somalia – far from the traditional cruising grounds of Greece, Turkey, Croatia, Italy and France – and a world away from the islands of the Caribbean.

There are several places that you can turn to get information regarding incidents of piracy.  The International Chamber of Commerce issues reports about incidents of piracy on a worldwide basis.

For information more specific to the Caribbean, we recommend that you check out the Caribbean Maritime Mobile Net. The Net is essentially an informational service for cruisers in the Caribbean run by, who else, cruisers in the Caribbean. The Net operates daily on 7.241 MHz from 1100Z to 1200Z. If anything is going on that cruisers need to know about in the Caribbean—including the Gulf of Mexico—it usually surfaces in those broadcasts.

There’s also a fairly useful monthly publication entitled the Caribbean Compass, and you can find their online information at www.caribbeancompass.com.

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What do you think can be done to reduce or eliminate incidents of piracy at sea?  Please share your comments on our blog entry.

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