Pirate encounter SE of Sri Lanka
during voyage from Phuket to
At 04.04 Greek time Thursday 8th February we had our first encounter with small time pirates / thieves. These bustards were pirates no doubt about it.
It happened exactly as is described in the sailing books.
A small fishing boat with 6 people. No nets, no fishing lines, no fish on board. They just appeared out of no where. At first they took a position ahead and parallel with diagonal angle towards us. They reduced their speed. Hey kept a course and speed so that our boat will pass close by their boat.
When about 300 to 500 yards away they gain speed and headed straight for us. When close to about 100 meters they all waved their hands to us. They came along our port side ( left) side 10 meters and they first tried to ask for cigarettes.
I was on watch and I said no I do not smoke! They persisted for about 5 minutes . I persisted too by saying No cigarettes no drink.
I was trying not to shout so that the others especially my wife who was still in bed do not get scare or panic. I had to hold a firm stand against them but also be careful not to provoke an incident at this stage.
Then they tried to sell us fish but they had no fish to show us. When that failed, they tried to sell us some kind of smoke which from their hand signals in their mouth indicated some Hash or some kind of a drug. Again I said no I do not smoke.
Then they offered to buy our dingy outboard Yamaha engine. Which I decline again. Finally they blatantly indicated that they are coming on board and they started siding the boat at the aft steps.
When they closed in I called the other two guys out so the pirates can see that I was not alone. Christopher woke up the Thai boy Jui and both came out.
I then told them to go away. Eventually when they saw more people on board they hesitated and then started drifting away from us. They kept close watch to us at the back of our boat for another 5 minutes.
Finally they changed course and went away from us.
At that moment I started regretting that I did not bring my shotguns with me. The best defense against small time pirates. But dangerous if the pirates are heavily armed, because you will then invite big fire back on you!
It was kind of exciting and scaring at the same time. Our system gets the adrenaline running and we get in a fighting/ defending mood. Whilst they were checking to see how many of us, I was checking to see how many of them. How many of them I can handle by my self. On eof them had to stay on board their boat so that left five of them. I was looking to see if they had any weapons. I saw no weapons but they all had their knives on them.
This is the typical pirate attack by small groups of fishing men who whilst they may be truly fishing or may pretend to be fishing They try to gain their way in friendly manner on a passing yacht.
Once on board your yacht they will still be very friendly and keep saying Hello, and bow to you.
But as soon as they verify that there is not enough people on board then they will attack.
These kind of pirates are the kind who are looking to steel money , computers instruments anything valuable. They are not the kind that will be looking to steel a boat.
But an incident which started like this in 2006 in the Caribbean ended in the rape of the woman on board and the killing of her husband.
At 10.50 Universal Time encountered with two fishing boats passing very close to our boat. Both waved and looked like genuine fishing boats. One was trawling nets behind him. They just cross our tail and went on their business.
What the Sri Lanka navy says!
When we arrived at the Galle Naval port for repairs, we were boarded by the navy who inspected the boat for security reasons because they face regular attacks from the Tamil / Tigers terrorist.
I reported the incident with the pirates to the naval officers and asked for their advise or comments if indeed there are pirates operating in or close to
No matter how small an incident , it bears strong psychological impact on any one, especially the ladies who an find such an experience too much to handle. As such we all have a duty to inform the authorities and share such events.
The navy officers also informed us that sometimes the pirates in these waters will be disguised as naval officers, to gain entry on board a yacht. Then they will attack and steel.
When I asked how do we know if these people are real naval officers or not, especially since the navy is going round with ordinary small fishing boats which any one can get, the officer replied that unless you speak to the navy on channel 16 VHF and be informed by your clearing agent that the navy is coming to board you should not allow anyone to come on board!!
Hopefully we will not have any more such encounters or if we have we can manage them like this one without an incident!!