Sunday, April 19, 2015

Brutal Attack in Haiti, Beware Petit Port a Piment

The couple cooperated but 

were still beaten and cut with a machete

The "Little Pepper Port" proves dicey for cruising couple

Country Name: Haiti
Location Detail: Petit Port a Piment
EVENT: Assault
Stolen Items: cash, solar panels,computers,navigation electronics, etc.
SECURED: Unknown
DETAILS: A Dutch couple aboard an Australian flagged boat en route from Cuba to Ile a Vache, a satellite island to Haiti was anchored at Petit Port a Pimient , Haiti and was boarded overnight by 6 armed men. They cooperated with the pirates and offered everything, but they were violently attacked. The captain was tied to the rail on deck and beaten badly, resulting in broken bones and machete wounds. His wife sustained machete injuries also, both were hospitalized. Embassy officials have become involved and are providing assistance.

In 2007, the total population of this commune in Hati was 17.  Presumably, no secrets are held in such small places.  Considering there was more than one assailant, the authorities should be able to get to the bottom of this brutal crime post haste if they want to keep the cruising community spending money in their small cities and towns.  But then, this is Haiti.

Information provided by the Caribbean Safety and Security Net

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Coast Guard Rescue 30 y.o. With Kidney Stones

62 Miles West of San Diego

On April 17th, 2015, a request for assistance was sent to the U.S. Coast Guard San Diego Sector from a small pleasure boat. The skipper of the Intimidator, a 32 foot, open cockpit pleasure boat, requested a medical evacuation.  

It was 3:22 in the afternoon and the Coast Guard was soon on site.  While there are some technical aspects to this kind of rescue, the Helicopter crew made the feat seem like it was just another day at the office.

At time of press, there was no word on the condition of the victim or the actual cause of his distress, other than suspected kidney stones.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Florida Plans Anchoring Bill, Sun Setting For Cruisers

The Florida legislature is considering a bill which will restrict anchoring near residences and commercial structures.  The bill will allow wealthy landowners to stop sailboats from "restricting their views".

An urgent appeal was sent via one of the sailing Internet threads which reads as follows:

"Florida's Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government heard Senate Bill 1548 today. This legislation would prohibit overnight anchoring on navigable water near private residences and public marine infrastructure, exception certain circumstances, among other less-contentious provisions. Despite strong support from the cruising community, the committee voted favorably for the bill.
Eleven bills were on the 2-hour session's agenda, including contentious legislation related to fracking. Due to time constraints, only two attendees who petitioned the committee to speak were able to.
Over a dozen cruisers attended the hearing, as well as a morning Florida House hearing on a related bill at the State Capitol in Tallahassee. House Bill 7123 – At-Risk Vessels had no anchoring restrictions for or vessels that are neither considered "derelict" or at risk of becoming derelict, but, last night, an amendment was introduced to the bill which would have aligned with the anchoring restrictions in Senate Bill 1548. Several cruisers and cruising advocates spoke. The amendment was withdrawn, and the "At-Risk Vessel" bill passed unanimously without the amendment."

The problem is, wealthy land owners have a lot of pull with legislators while cruisers, who are sometimes seasonal, have a difficult time expressing their views.  Legislators tend to discount their testimony because they don't see these sailors as having the ability to organize.

This is a classic battle between two major interests:  Those who have a great deal and want it for themselves, and those who have very little and want only a tiny piece.

Glenn Tuttle, a long time cruiser, said in a news flash:

Not good news cruisers. We really need to rally together to do whatever needs to be done to defeat this bill, or at least get the Setback amendment stricken from the bill. The 200 foot setback amendment would virtually eliminate most anchorages in South Florida. Do your part by supporting and funding the Concerned Cruisers Committee of the SSCA. Go to or more information. This really is a big deal folks, and could impact our cruising as we now know it. Also, if such restrictive legislature is passed in Florida, be assured other states with anti-boaters will jump on the bandwagon.

Glenn Tuttle - Moderator
Cruisers Network Online
M/V Tothill
Ft Lauderdale

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Continuum Finds Nirvana Now In Yacht Rescue

ALAMEDA, Calif. — A pair of good Samaritan sail vessels located a sailboat in distress with two Canadian crew members aboard nearly 2,000 miles west southwest of the Galapagos Islands Wednesday.

At 10:24 p.m. Tuesday watch standers at the 11th Coast Guard District Command Center received notification from a ham radio operator that the 42-foot sail vessel Nirvana Now was disabled and became unstable. 

The 11th District sent a safety net message to all vessels in the area to render assistance. After receiving the safety net message, the sailboat Athos of London transited toward the Nirvana Now. The Nirvana Now reportedly has a registered emergency position-indicating radio beacon and a four-man life raft on board.

Two lives in being were aboard the Nirvana, Randy and Dawn Ortiz.  Randy is a retired marine engineer and Dawn is a retired nurse. 

The Continuum
The crews aboard two sailboats, the Athos of London and the Continuum, responded to the safetynet. The Continuum was part of the Puddle Jump send off party in  earlier this year.  At the helm were Bob and Mona Jankowski from North Carolina.  

The Continuum arrived on scene first.  Bob and Mona transferred Randy and Dawn from the Nirvana Now to the Continuum.  

Before leaving their beloved yacht, Randy and Dawn cut the cables opening the sea cocks and sending thier beloved yacht to meet Davey Jones.  As responsible mariners, they did not want the boat to be a hazzard to others.  Both reported no injuries or medical concerns. The Continuum will transport the two to Hiva-Oa in the Marquesas Islands.
Bob and Mona Jankowski

En route to Hiv-Oa, the Athos of London will rendezvous with the Continuum to pass along any extra food and water the crew and two Canadian crew members may need.

“The rescue of the two sailors on the Nirvana Now is a testament to the dedication of our Coast Guard watch standers, our international partners and the good Samaritans who responded to our alert,” said Lt. Cmdr. Andrea Sacchetti, 11th District Response and Incident Management. “When mariners are in distress so far from any Coast Guard or other rescue service assets, we rely heavily on these resources to respond; we are grateful we had such capable vessels as the Continuum and the Athos of London to assist.”

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Two Saudi Pilots Bail Out Over Red Sea, Rescued With US Help

File Photo
Jets are complicated pieces of equipment, even if the price tag for each fighter jet is in the millions. Sometimes, things just don't go right.

An F15S encountered a major technical fault on the evening of March 28th, 2015. The pilots had few options, so they hit their ejection buttons and whoosh! They were free from the misguided aircraft and heading quickly for the sea.

An American helicopter flew Thursday from nearby Djibouti and rescued the two pilots, according the AFP. The USS Sterett coordinated the use of rescue assets from the U.S. base in Dijbouti, though for some reason, the U.S. role was rather off the record.

USS Sterett

The Saudi Arabian government along with fellow Sunni-led allies in the Gulf are bombing the Houthi rebels who threaten to take over Yemen. Supposedly, officials in Tehran are providing arms and support to the Houthi rebels. Iran denies having involvement.  

The U.S. is also keeping a low key in this battle, in part, by offering support services, but not combat troops.  The Houthi rebels seek to overthrow Yemen, further destabilizing the area.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Venezuela Cautions from Caribbean Safety and Security Net

Currently, tensions between the U.S. and Venezuela are extremely tight.  Sailors who are either in Venezuelan waters or thinking about transiting Venezuelan territory should carefully consider their options.  Entrance into Venezuela now requires a visa, along with all of the other documents previously required.

Privately, in not so private web casts, the Maduro regime has been bashing the U.S.  The rhetoric follows on the heels of Hugo Chavez, who rose to the podium at the United Nations after President Bush had spoken and said the air smelled like sulphur from "devil".  Chavez's words were an attempt at a humorous pun in which the "devil" might be the evil spirit himself or methane emitted from the President's body.  In any case, the inside joke, which only native Spanish speakers could understand despite it's translation, was a direct insult to the U.S. president and typical of a socialist government influenced by Cuba and unhappy with Washington.

Nicolas Maduro, following in the late Hugo Chavez's footsteps, has escalated the rhetoric as he works to gain support against growing detractors of the "Chavista"socialist philosophy.  With oil losing value, the Venezuelan government is fighting to maintain the status quo after having failed to help the country develop any export other than oil.  Venezuela produces almost nothing and is only a consumer, except for oil.  Even the oil industry is in ruins after years of pillaging petro dollars to give Venezuelan citizens a better life and to support Cuba, through the Venezuelan 3 to 10 billion dollar annual oil donation.

Public dissent has been effectively silenced in Venezuela.  The country even ousted CNN for a brief period after unflattering reports were made.  A student protest movement has been met with brutal repression, assasinations, disappearances and thuggery.  The Venezuelan government claims it has clean hands in the process while taking no action against the "effectivos", or popular watchdogs who keep tabs on citizen activity, block by block.  The efectivos are at least government sanctioned and appear to answer to no one, but attack anyone who speaks out against the Maduro regime.  That is a pretty big coincidence.

The U.S. seeks to place sanctions on known Venezuelan government officials who have U.S. assets, who send their children to U.S. schools, and who seem to swim in the same U.S. currency which is forbidden to the average Venezuelan citizen.  It seems inappropriate to the U.S. Congress that a select few Venezuelans should bask in the oil wealth of the country, spending the millions in the U.S., while opressing free speech a home.  As a result, Gustavo Gonzalez, head of the CIA-like Sebin, Manuel Perez, director of the national police and Justo Noguero who runs the state mining firm CVG but used to be a national guard commander, along with other officials known for abusing human rights, could have their bank accounts and properties frozen in the U.S.

Retaliation is expected.  U.S. citizens are likely to be the first targets.  Yachts are high value assets.  Both the government and the Venezuelan military are not happy with the U.S.  Sailors should take heed.

The Caribbean Safety and Security Net says:

If you are a US flagged vessel or carry a US passport and are planning to visit (even the offshore islands in an “en transito” mode) you should obtain the latest information available and make an informed choice.  All US citizens now require a visa for entry into Venezuela, and these must be obtained prior to entry. Arrival at any port , or an encounter with any official without the appropriate visa could result in denial of entry, or possibly detention and seizure. While foreign Venezuelan consulates can provide instructions and may process visa applications, travel to Venezuela by US flagged yachts or carrying US citizens should be considered at this time to be HIGH RISK.

CSSN encourages all US citizens currently in Venezuela, and any with assets there (boats, homes, businesses) to pay very close attention to the developing situation there. Historically,  response to this type of action by the US has been swift, but often poorly or inappropriately targeted. Cruisers and their boats could become the target for any local official hoping to improve their own standing in the Maduro regime. If you are a US citizen currently in Venezuela, it would be prudent to have a plan in place to depart on short notice.

US Announces New Executive Order Sanctions on Venezuela — Declares “National Emergency”

Monday 9 March 2015, United States President Obama issued a new Executive Order (E.O.) declaring a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in Venezuela. Declaring any country a threat to national security is the first step in starting a U.S. sanctions program. The same process has been followed with countries such as Iran and Syria, U.S. officials said.

Link to full article

Venezuela Responds:
CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela will respond shortly to new U.S moves to declare it a national security threat and sanction seven prominent officials, its foreign minister said on Monday. “We will soon make public Venezuela’s response to these declarations,” Delcy Rodriguez told reporters, declining to give further details.

Link to full article

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Tomnod Enlisted To Help Find Missing CAT

Durban - The crowd sourcing site, Tomnod, has been enlisted in the search for a missing Catamaran and her three member crew.

Getting Ready For Sail

Anthony Murray, Reg Robertson and Jarvd Payne set sail on a Sunsail C044-978 catamaran from Cape Town Harbour on December 14th, 2014. On January 18th, the crew made contact via satellite telephone. The most recent ETA places the Catamaran due in Phuket Thailand by the 2nd of February. As each day ticks down, friends and family have grown increasingly more concerned.

Finally, the families enlisted the crowd sourcing company, Tomnod, to take satellite photos of the possible search area. Anyone with access to the internet can take a shot at finding the veritable needle in the haystack. If the boat is still up, anyone might make a lucky find that will bring the crew back to their loved ones.

Anthony Murray, 58, is the skipper of the Leopard 44. Murray is well known as a skipper with over 25 years experience at sea. Reg Robertson, 59, also has extensive experience. For youth and strength, the two experienced sea salts brought along 20 year old Jaryd Payne. All three men are from South Africa.

Matthew Thomas is advising the families about next steps.
You can see the four Leopard Catamarans on the bottom of this photo.  They may not be as clear or in this scale on the Tomnod photos.  The crew may be in the liferaft, as well.
Tomnod, a division of Digiital Globe, is a private company which provides satellite images of natural disasters and for some missing yacht cases. Satellite images are prohibitively expensive so getting the images through Digital Globe provides an immense cost savings to the search team. The images can then be searched using the Tomnod program. Tagging a potential find is very easy.

Of course, finding the missing sailors is urgent because the sea is a harsh environment.  Still, long term survival stories abound from sailors who have managed extensive periods, more than a year, on a disabled yacht.

You can try your luck searching for the missing catamaran HERE.

On March 4th, 2015, Storme Robertson said;
Hello Everyone - Thank you for your continued support and searchingTomnod with us. Just to clarify as many of you are asking about details regarding the LIFE RAFT: Our men have a 12 man life raft, 3.0m wide and hexagonal (6 sided) with a day-glow orange canopy. KEEP TAGGING! YOU'RE DOING GREAT!"

On March 3rd, this item was posted:

Cat Impi
March 3 at 7:32am

Have not read all the posts yet, but do we know the content of their last call on 18 Jan ... I managed to trace weather pattern to 20 Jan in the vicinity - To the family, this is obviously a terrible time for you, but just to let you know to not give up hope - when we were in the Tuamotu Archipelago the authorities there at the time told us they found a man adrift at sea - he had been adrift for 16 months. The weather shows 51 knots which is a lot but easily doable on a new catamaran - perhaps dis-masted and drifting. I see too from the weather that if they were trying to angle south to get away from a cyclone in the vicinity that they would have had to drop well to the south as the winds otherwise would have been on their bow. Of course MRCC and all the folks will be considering this - but it would be nice to know what conversations took place in the last days of contact at sea

There is hope - they have a life raft - we will keep posting to our mates out there all the info possible - already we are being told by sailors they are 'on the look out'.Tomnod was instrumental in the search for the SV Nina which disappeared in the Tasman

Matthew Thomas - I would certainly want you heading up a search if we got lost!

Tomnod was instrumental in the Nina search which disappeared after being battered by a fierce storm. on June 4th, 2013.  Unfortunately, nothing of the Nina has ever been found despite 16,000 people who signed up for Tomnod to help complete the search.

When the missing Leopard catamaran failed to up  make port on schedule, the family notified  Maritime Rescue Co-.ordination Center (MRCC) in Cape Town, South Africa.