What is Your Plan for Self Defense on a Boat/ Yacht in the Caribbean?

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I have read much of what there is on the Internet concerning self defense on a boat/yacht in the Caribbean. Frankly, I am not impressed. I believe that it is a person’s right to defend themselves. In my opinion, it is a person’s responsibility to defend their family in a situation where a life is on the line. It is my experience that many people become victims of crime, even if just attempted, regardless of how prepared they are. Bad things happen to good people and all of that. I decided to write a journal entry on some research I conducted and my own professional opinion as a self defense and gun instructor.

The potential for crime in the Caribbean is endless. I grew up watching pirate movies as a kid. Pirates still exist but they aren’t taking loads of gold from transport ships as they did in the Golden Age of piracy. Pirate is just a fancy name for criminal.  Crime evolves like everything else. Crime is very high in many Caribbean nations. Per capita, some large Caribbean cities have violent crime rates higher than Washington D.C. or Chicago. I am not advocating that people avoid the Caribbean, obviously. I do advocate people to understand what they are getting into, in terms of potential personal protection and self defense options. Big cities are not the typical cruiser’s only concern, in my opinion.

Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt ~ Mark Twain

Many of us seek to travel the Caribbean so that we can be alone or undisturbed. We long for that picturesque remote anchorage to settle down for the night. We want to beach comb during the day undisturbed and it becomes easy with our big boats that can anchor just about anywhere. The Bahamas has 700 islands, who knows how many cays and at least 550 miles of distance from one end to the other. I can see this tranquility when I dream at night. My dream becomes less ideal if I were to envision one, two or three people with bad intentions on the island with me and my family.

I have always said bad guys like remote locations with poor phone service.

The fact is, there are an unlimited amount of situations that could cause a person grief, if only in their bad dreams. I believe in being prepared. I believe in doing research for data that could help me to determine what preparations I must make to keep my family safe. I also understand that sometimes data isn’t available for various reasons.  Reported cases of piracy isn’t on the rise in the Caribbean, according to the data.  There are isolated incidents in the Western and more reported cases in the Eastern part of the Caribbean closer to South America.  Each nation has different criteria and procedures for reporting crime.  Systems vary and some data isn’t published or even recorded.  Data can’t be recorded if it isn’t reported.  I think it was Captain Davy Jones that said “dead men tell no tales.”  Several Caribbean nations don’t make their police reporting data available to others or the public.  The fact that tourism is a huge part of most Caribbean nation’s economy is likely the driving factor.  I don’t think that this is just an issue with foreign nations; it happens in the United States.  I read the following news report, that wasn’t widely reported by the US Media today.

The spate of 82 shootings in Chicago over the July 4th holiday weekend, in which at least 16 people were killed.

Of course, it gives me pause.  I could look at the FBI statistics that show Chicago had 500 murders last year but I don’t see a lot of overly negative reports that warn the public not to go watch the Chicago Bulls play ball.  The perception that most US cites are generally safe in some areas prevails and so does the tourism that fuels those economies.  The media doesn’t report that Orlando, Florida has a crime rate three times the US average and that there is a registered sex offender for every 137 citizens in the county where where our larges family amusement park is located.  Why?  I would bet that tourism has something to do with it.  Wouldn’t you?  Crime is crime, reported or not.  Crime is crime, even if it isn’t maintained in a database or found in a survey.  Crime happens everywhere in the world and in some places more than others.  Consider this information:

While there has been a slight reduction in 2013 in some crime categories as reported by the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF), violent crime remains above the 2012 level. Since July 2013, the government has not published national crime statistics. The Bahamas continues to have a high crime rate, particularly on New Providence Island, which has continued to experience escalated levels of violent crime. Home break-ins, theft, and robbery are not confined to any specific part of the island.

WARNING! Too many tourists & foreign investors are killed in Dominican Republic – Body Count: 39, Who is next? Canadian civil war world blogger calls DR the world’s most dangerous country!

Reliable crime statistics are difficult to come by; Haitian National Police (HNP) numbers indicating a modest drop in crime during 2012 were undercut by those from other security entities operating in-country that continued to show a steady rise since 2010. A comparative analysis of figures from various police/security entities operating throughout Haiti reflects a continuation of the trend in which incidents of crimes are inaccurately or under-reported. Haiti’s perennially weak judiciary exacerbates an already unsteady security environment.

In the past eight years, Puerto Rico’s ticker tape of woes has stretched unabated: $70 billion in debt, a 15.4 percent unemployment rate, a soaring cost of living, pervasive crime, crumbling schools and a worrisome exodus of professionals and middle-class Puerto Ricans who have moved to places like Florida and Texas.

V.I. homicide rate still among world’s highest.

Kingston is rated as a Critical crime threat post due to the violence and frequency of criminal activity throughout Jamaica. Violent crime is a serious problem, particularly in Kingston.There is no evidence to indicate criminals and gang-related activities are specifically targeting U.S. citizens.

..countries with clearly higher rates were Honduras, with 91.6 homicides per 100,000 people in 2011, and El Salvador, with 69.2 homicides per 100,000 people in 2011, according to the U.N. data. The territory’s rate also would be in the same ballpark as Cote d’Ivoire, which last reported a homicide rate in 2008, at which point it was 56.9 per 100,000 people.

Do I believe that most of the crime is reported in higher density areas, such as big cities?  Yes.  Do I believe that an honest citizen can go to a large city and not be the victim of crime? Absolutely.  Do I want to be the victim of crime anywhere?  Absolutely not!  Would I be more or less concerned about crime that happened to me in a populated or remote area?  I guess the answer to that would depend upon the criminal’s intent towards me and my family.  I wouldn’t like either scenario but I would prefer being in a more populated area during a crime.  Cruisers and sailors have different problems than tourists.  Who are we going to call?  Many of the blogs or forums I read on the Internet recommend using VHF channel 16 for distress.  Depending on a radio (or who may answer the call) is not a prudent plan for self defense.

Make no mistake, I am a gun guy but I don’t believe that guns are or should be the only answer.  Certainly, they are an option for me at times.  My self defense plan starts with awareness and goes from there.  I have instructed over fifty thousand women, men, law enforcement and military people during my walk on this earth.  So that one may walk in peace.

I promise to dedicate my time, effort and energy in sharing my plan in coming journal entries.  Thank you for reading my words.

Captain of the Miss Lone Star

Captain of the Miss Lone Star

7 thoughts on “What is Your Plan for Self Defense on a Boat/ Yacht in the Caribbean?

  1. Caribbean crime stats mean absolutely nothing to a cruising couple. The violent crimes are far and away locals on locals, usually drug and gang related. If you could find reliable stats on crime against cruisers it would have some relevance. We lived and cruised in the eastern Carib for 8 years without incident. Not even a single unpleasant encounter.

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  2. Being a gun guy, are you planning in having them on the boat? There is the Caribbean Safety and Security Net that is available for cruisers to report any incidents they have. Also check out noonsite.com for information in various countries. I would recommend you join SSCA (Seven Seas Cruising Association) as there are many benefits and there are some online courses that might help you in getting ready for your cruise.

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    • Oh, thank you for the information. I saw info for the SSCA on another person’s blog. I do plan to check it out. Yes, I am planning to leave the guns on board and they are strictly for our protection. I checked out CSSN and I was pretty shocked to see that they deemed “assault” anything that involved violence, robbery, etc. In reading the description of the incidents, I was a little taken back! Thanks for sharing.

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      • Any Guns on board a boat is a question that customs always ask. In Trinidad they confiscated our flare gun when we checked in. I would make sure to check out the countries you want to visit to see what their regulations are. I could understand with your Military background (Thank you for your service!) that you would feel like guns are necessary. Good luck!

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      • Thank you. Yes, I have flecked all of the legalities for the places we will visit. I prefer to have the ability to protect my family in case trouble happens upon us but I am planning for an uneventful cruise. We are planning to avoid most of the big cities and head for the more remote and easy-going areas. Thank you!

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