How to Survive a Pirate Attack


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Travis McGee
March 7, 2011, 12:12 PM
http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2011/03/07/survive-pirate-attack/

The author of this article, Paul Eisenberg of Fox News, interviewed me for an hour last week. These are the paragraphs that came from that interview:

When you’re in port, it pays to “get all local knowledge you can from local captains, the port captains office, [and] from marina staff” about potential piracy problems along your route and the port itself, says former Navy SEAL Team officer Matt Bracken, noting that protecting yourself “starts with local awareness, talking to other skippers, and always listening for reports of things being stolen or pilfered.”

While many travelers associate piracy with being boarded on the open sea, Bracken says the “biggest danger is being attacked at anchor,” noting that since marinas may cost upwards of $50 a night for docking, many seafarers will “anchor out” up to a half mile from shore. And even if you don’t consider yourself wealthy, Bracken says, the very fact that you have a boat may make you come across that way to a pirate. “When people anchor out they think, ‘I’m not rich,’ [but to] people watching me from shore, I’m Bill Gates.” Make your boat a harder target, he says. Secure your boat’s dinghy with a steel cable as “someone coming from shore won’t necessarily bring a bolt cutter.” Also, he suggests, cruise in groups or with at least one other boat so you can take turns having a person on watch at all times.

If pirates approach you

While piloting his 48-foot steel sailing cutter between Panama and Hawaii, Bracken had a 150-foot steel ship fall in behind him, which he knew felt all wrong. While he had real weapons on board, he broke out a black spray-painted plywood M-16, which he constructed at 1.2 times scale so that “it looks bigger and more threatening than a real one.” He adds that at 400 to 500 yards if pirates are “binocularing you and they see someone producing a weapon at that range, they know there is a risk of getting shot.” The vessel trailing Bracken “finally turned away and went somewhere else.”

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ZCORR Jay
March 7, 2011, 12:23 PM
Its interesting that he made a fake M16 at a larger scale than a real one. I could actually see that being a useful prop.

TexasRifleman
March 7, 2011, 12:30 PM
I wondered if that was you when I read the article this morning while having my coffee.

Very good stuff. Interesting that the media is now willing to openly discuss armed self defense. That always seemed like something they tried so hard to stay away from.

Uteridge
March 7, 2011, 01:16 PM
Good article. It is important to note that many places it is illegal to have a gun aboard when coming in and out of foreign ports on your yacht. If you find yourself sailing around HOA and don't have a weapon that can be a disturbing situation, especially when you pull into port and they are selling AK's for $100 apiece and you can buy one and put it on your boat without having to worry about being boarded by that country's Coast Guard and searched.

The situation reminds me of something an older gentlemen shared with me when I was growing up. He liked to fish and often had need of more fish than his daily limit allowed. So he would tie a stringer below the waterline of the boat and keep his "extra fish on that stringer. If he started to run into problems during a Fish and Game inspection he would just discreetly let the stringer go and there would be no evidence of poaching. Not something that I have ever had to do, and I am not advocating breaking a law anywhere in the world, but if I was sailing off HOA I am pretty sure I would figure out a way to make the same concept work for me.

foghornl
March 7, 2011, 01:17 PM
As sad as that situation was, perhaps the murder of the 4 Americans by Somali pirates recently has sent a HUGE wake-up call.

p.s. I am STILL torqued off about the murders of those 4 missionaires....

<...>

WardenWolf
March 7, 2011, 04:36 PM
The best way to survive a pirate attack? Don't sail where pirates are in the first place. Seriously, it's just a bad idea. In this day and age, sailing in that part of the world in a small, slow, unarmed boat is just asking for trouble. It's like taking a casual stroll through Mexican drug gang territory wearing an American flag t-shirt. You have to KNOW it's stupid and dangerous, so why do it? The first step to avoiding a pirate attack is to avoid it in the first place.

CapnMac
March 7, 2011, 04:47 PM
I remember a salty old charter skipper who had Bahamian registry for his boat. Said registry was for an "Armed Ketch of one Gun." To meet that requirement he had a replica ship's cannon with about a 0.75" bore and BP for same. The old maritime law then allowed "such other small arms and several divers and several weapons" to protect that one gun.

tarosean
March 7, 2011, 05:01 PM
The best way to survive a pirate attack? Don't sail where pirates are in the first place. Seriously, it's just a bad idea. In this day and age, sailing in that part of the world in a small, slow, unarmed boat is just asking for trouble. It's like taking a casual stroll through Mexican drug gang territory wearing an American flag t-shirt. You have to KNOW it's stupid and dangerous, so why do it? The first step to avoiding a pirate attack is to avoid it in the first place.


While Somali Pirates is in the news as of late.. Here is a map for ya.


http://yachtpals.com/files/news/piracy-map-2009.jpg

Comanche180
March 7, 2011, 05:05 PM
"Very good stuff. Interesting that the media is now willing to openly discuss armed self defense. That always seemed like something they tried so hard to stay away from. "

TexasRifleman, that wasn't the regular media, that was Fox.

Zundfolge
March 7, 2011, 05:09 PM
I was going to recommend ninjas, but fake guns gotta be better than nothing.

DammitBoy
March 7, 2011, 05:10 PM
Fascinating but long report on piracy by the Economist. Here's the paragraph that stood out to me:

Naval forces have let between 500 and 700 pirates go over the last three years, mostly ensuring they have enough fuel and other supplies to get home and, on more than one occasion, helping with engine repairs. Some pirates have been arrested several times.

http://www.economist.com/node/18061574

The current rules of engagement hinder progress with this problem. The only rule should be "shoot on sight".

ratt_finkel
March 7, 2011, 06:09 PM
I'm gonna have to agree with WardenWolf on this one. Why would you purposely sail where known pirates are. The ocean is a big place and Somalia can't exactly be a great destination....

Art Eatman
March 7, 2011, 06:40 PM
The "avoidance" concept would mean not much ocean sailing, actually. The priates range from the "sneak aboard" burglar types on up to well-equipped ships with Ma Deuce-type full-auto and RPGs.

So, most any port around the Caribbean or the Pacific coast from San Diego on down to Chile. Anywhere from Luzon in the norther P.I. on southwest through any of those island archipelagos on the way toward Australia. The Gulf of Mexico off Florida isn't totally free of problems, either.

And worse, you might run afoul of the Coast Guard doing its potty-peeking thing to make sure you flush properly.

Black Knight
March 7, 2011, 08:14 PM
Sounds interesting. Maybe the pirates thought it was a 50 caliber Beowolf. Just think if he had done the same for a Barret 50 caliber.

yyz
March 7, 2011, 08:22 PM
makes sense (the fake gun) with a target rich environment why go after some one armed were you might get shot.

Cosmoline
March 7, 2011, 08:32 PM
I think part of the problem is those waters are crawling with native fishermen and always have been. It's pretty much unregulated, and the distinction between fishermen and pirates is fuzzy at best. The real impetus is of course the MONEY. And there's a lot of it to be had. The only way to stop the business is to cut off the flow of insurance payouts. That's a policy matter that could be handled very quickly, but it would mean accepting an initial spike in deaths and cargo destruction. The shipping industry is funding the piracy.

Wishoot
March 7, 2011, 08:41 PM
Thank goodness I do my boating on Lake Michigan and don't have to worry about pirates. Jerks yes, but pirates no.

hso
March 7, 2011, 09:25 PM
Self defense is reasonable topic for discussion and Matt started the discussion on that theme.

Pirate eradication isn't a self defense topic nor reasonable for THR.

Travis McGee
March 7, 2011, 11:34 PM
Typically, most of the other experts in the article advise going passive and not resisting, while hoping they just want your stuff, and not your life or your women. I just tend to lean toward armed self defense at the maximum distance. The reporter and I chatted for an hour, he didn't use many of my suggestions.

gbran
March 8, 2011, 12:15 AM
Electrified barbed wire perimeter, boilng vats of oil. flamethrowers.......

Zundfolge
March 8, 2011, 01:00 AM
I just tend to lean toward armed self defense at the maximum distance.

I think most of us here agree with the concept of armed self defense, but the problem is that international/maritime law makes arming yourself on the high seas virtually impossible (unless of course you're engaged in piracy).

I would think that a couple of Ma Duces and RPGs would be ideal pirate defense for small to medium size boats, but since that's not realistic, I'm thinking there has to be some sort of improvised weapon system (I'm thinking that fake guns will only work a few times before they get wise).

Just need to come up with lethal methods that aren't classified as weapons by most of the worlds governments.

So maybe boiling oil isn't such a bad idea.

Hardware
March 8, 2011, 01:09 AM
Those old Lahti's, Solothurns and Boyes anti tank rifles can now be repurposed!

WVMountainBoy
March 8, 2011, 04:14 AM
Would spearguns at ready be legal? Or crossbows or other such fish archery equipment? I have very little experience with sailing or open water in general but it seems these gadgets would inflict nasty wounds. Not to mention use of a flare gun. While not the ideal weapon sets they seem like they could hold off a boarding party if pressed. I would also imagine the most important thing would be situational awareness. Someone staying awake and taking night watch especially while in area of high concern.

xcgates
March 8, 2011, 05:41 AM
While discussion the military side of dealing with pirates may not be strictly along with the intent of THR, pushing for individuals, and merchant ships in general to be armed if they so wish to do so, is very much in line with THR, IMO. Granted some of my earlier remarks weren't very kind, however I have a similar opinion of burglers as pirates. Except if I were at sea, any form of "police" is, for all practical purposes, never going to show up.

Why accept that legally, for the most part, one cannot be armed sufficiently?

LemmyCaution
March 8, 2011, 07:23 AM
Why accept that legally, for the most part, one cannot be armed sufficiently?

This isn't the issue.

The sticky issues are:

1: Rules of engagement. On shore, armed self-defense happens from a few yards to contact distance. What is a threat is more easily determined. At sea, by the time a threat can be definitively determined, the tactical advantage is lost. Making the determination at a tactically sound offset is obviously going to result in a lot of false positives, the result being collateral damage (or as it is known to civilians- murder).

2: Like it or not, on shore, self-defense homicides are always judged after the fact as to whether they are justifiable. On the open sea, big questions arise over who determines whether something is a justifiable self-defense homicide, and who is engaged in callous murder driven by bloodlust, indifference to the humanity of strangers and racism, which pirate eradication schemes almost always run right up on in these threads.

vaherder
March 8, 2011, 07:59 AM
If you are in compliance with USCG regs you should be carrying a flare gun or three. Flares can do significant damage if they hit a human or boat.

There are enough hiding places on a boat that authorities should not find your PD weapons and ammo.

Any LE or CG will not be close enough to intervene. Folks sailing near Somalia
are just stupid for putting themselves in jeopardy. Pirates see these boats as easy pickings and a great chance to make some money. There are no safe rooms on a 40ft sailboat. Opsec is important. Chances of the SEALS or SBS
or even the Dutch SOF coming to your rescue are slim to none in vastness out there.

I wouldnt want my family or company paying any ransom. I take my chances or suffer the consequences. Problem is companies and govts have been paying off the Somali pirates. We know where their bases and need to hit them hard. Problem is the Brits, the US and others dont have the stomach for it.

Va herder

Sam1911
March 8, 2011, 08:43 AM
There are enough hiding places on a boat that authorities should not find your PD weapons and ammo.

Fortunately, no one's thought of smuggling drugs or guns by boat before. If any bad guys ever start using small boats to illegally import contraband, I'll bet those DEA, Border Patrol, and Coast Guard types will start getting real smart about finding hidey-holes in boats.

jim goose
March 8, 2011, 09:23 AM
If your going to circle the globe, your going. to be in pirate territory.

There was a famous New Zealand adventurer, i forget his name. He went ashore in brazil, and that night petty thiefs came aboard to rob him. He had a polar bear rifle for the artic, he shot one assailant, but he still died.

His mistake was probably parking a fancy boat offshore from a poor village, then going ashore. Akin to parking a mercedes in a bad neighborhood.

You have to use common sense. And unless your up all night, your going to end up rolling the dice most likely. Their is little to no way to defend yourself other than to use your brain.

Taking children through a passage like that was not smart.

skoro
March 8, 2011, 09:45 AM
The best way to survive a pirate attack? Don't sail where pirates are in the first place.

This...

Maybe it's just me. But sailing into known pirate infested waters seems to be about as wise as "journalists" wandering across the border into N Korea or "hikers" straying into Iran by mistake.

xcgates
March 8, 2011, 11:34 AM
LemmyCaution, I know it's a bad situation all around, but if there is a way to avoid being captured, should one do their best to avoid capture? I may not have the perfect answer, and the truth is I won't be sailing on the vast ocean except in a fine ship flying US colors, and maned by the best sailors our navy has to offer, however I'd like to think (optimistically perhaps) there is a way to protect oneself from evildoers.

Skoro, it has been addressed before that while the majority of attacks are currently in the Somalia area, there are pirates all over.

I probably should have mentioned this earlier, I am only very vaguely familiar with maritime law, and realize that in the current state of world affairs, the threat of piracy will likely only be significantly impacted by the co-operation of many nations taking a hard line. Something that is currently limited by common laws of the sea. Doesn't mean I don't have my ideas of how things should run.

Captain33036
March 8, 2011, 11:54 AM
Well...actually...this might just be a very good place to talk about piracy.

The UN Law of the Sea Treaty (LOS), Articles 101-105 state very clearly, that it is every States responsibility to stop pirates on the High Seas. Article 105 states that any warship from any signatory nation has the authority to stop, board and detain any persons believed to be engaged in piracy.

But, this is not being done to the degree it needs to be.

At this point, there is no international agreement on whether or not firearms may be carried by a ship transiting from international waters, to national waters.

SO, since piracy is not being addressed, why not advocate for an addendum to the LOS that stipulates that vessels transiting international waters (to national waters) may be allowed to carry firearms aboard, if properly locked while in port?

This would be akin to the Freedom of Navigation.

Many ports do allow this, but many do not. One international policy would greatly aid in allowing vessels to do so. And .... having many more pleasure boats adequately armed might just do something to retard piracy, if the nations of the world will not.

Respecfully,

J

ps - and have the treaty stipulate that those arms be in .308...or more.

HOOfan_1
March 8, 2011, 02:55 PM
former Navy SEAL Team officer Matt Bracken,


Hey another Wahoo

Pretty pathetic that the UN takes the stance that armed resistance is not the correct way to deal with these thieves.

DammitBoy
March 8, 2011, 04:02 PM
Well...actually...this might just be a very good place to talk about piracy.

The UN Law of the Sea Treaty (LOS), Articles 101-105 state very clearly, that it is every States responsibility to stop pirates on the High Seas. Article 105 states that any warship from any signatory nation has the authority to stop, board and detain any persons believed to be engaged in piracy.

But, this is not being done to the degree it needs to be.

At this point, there is no international agreement on whether or not firearms may be carried by a ship transiting from international waters, to national waters.

SO, since piracy is not being addressed, why not advocate for an addendum to the LOS that stipulates that vessels transiting international waters (to national waters) may be allowed to carry firearms aboard, if properly locked while in port?

This would be akin to the Freedom of Navigation.

Many ports do allow this, but many do not. One international policy would greatly aid in allowing vessels to do so. And .... having many more pleasure boats adequately armed might just do something to retard piracy, if the nations of the world will not.

Respecfully,

J

ps - and have the treaty stipulate that those arms be in .308...or more.

This is the best response thus far. Too bad it'll never happen.

What is the reference for protecting your cannon that was made? Is that a real maritime law?

thorn726
March 8, 2011, 06:12 PM
some details on gun /boat/ country laws
HERE (http://www.thecoastalpassage.com/guns_aboard.html)

long list of individual countries and their regulations

Captain33036
March 8, 2011, 07:43 PM
Gord is a great guy and does a very good job at putting together information. The above demonstrates the serious problem that cruisers have in carrying firearms on long ocean voyages. It is all but impossible to find a route that will allow you to make port as needed and carry weapons. Many of these laws are quite specific as to the type of firearm, as well. I think Canada does not allow handguns with less than 4 inch barrels.

I believe this makes my point. All vessels are accorded the freedom of navigation, under international law, but not the freedom to protect themselves. In the light of the ever growing piracy threat, this now seems contradictory and counter-productive. It places many crews in harms way and thus should be addressed.

And for those here who do not cruise, and rightly wonder what the point of this discussion would be, I would say...... convincing the rest of the world that the right to self protection is a basic human right and the right to bear arms is part and parcel of that right....contributes to that notion here....and our own security elsewhere.

Thank you

Respectfully,

J

feedthehogs
March 8, 2011, 08:20 PM
You have to use common sense

Best advice yet.

Been on the seas for 30 years and all over, small ports and large ports and having firearms on board was a no no in most of those ports.

Unless you can carry enough fuel and provisions to remain in international waters, there isn't a place on a boat that a customs agent hasn't already found to hide something. At that point its confiscation of the vessel and a good probability of jail time in some 3rd world rat hole.

Never once did I ever encounter nor sense any type of suspected piracy. There are places you go and places you don't.

Depending on the port of call, contacting the locals about suspected piracy is not a good idea as many of the local water rats can be part of or look outs for pirates.

If you stick to large commercial and or vacation/charter fishing spot ports you'll have no issues as that kind of stuff is bad for tourism which many times is key to the local economy and is not tolerated by the local authorities, even those on the take which is most of them.

Those bone heads, first the Americans and then the Danes, who got pirated didn't even follow their instincts and the ones who were killed even blogged about the problem area as did the Danes.

Sometimes Darwin just has to reclaim his own.

Deltaboy
March 8, 2011, 11:25 PM
I can't believe that the laws of the Sea makes us sitting ducks.

HOOfan_1
March 9, 2011, 12:52 AM
I can't believe that the laws of the Sea makes us sitting ducks.

The UN is trying to force gun laws on countries....I'm not surprised at anything that international "law" does that takes power from individuals.

Travis McGee
March 10, 2011, 09:14 AM
Hoofan: It's been a long, long time since I joined a circle of Hoos and sang the song of wahoo-wa.
I graduated in 79, and went from C-ville to BUD/S training in Coronado, CA.

heron
March 10, 2011, 12:19 PM
I'm surprised no one has suggested flying a Russian flag . . . remember this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTrkcQJ9i2I

Yes, I know, faking your country of origin could get you in trouble . . . might save you some, too, though . . .

Zoogster
March 10, 2011, 06:39 PM
So maybe boiling oil isn't such a bad idea.

Would spearguns at ready be legal? Or crossbows or other such fish archery equipment?

If you are in compliance with USCG regs you should be carrying a flare gun or three. Flares can do significant damage if they hit a human or boat.

Most of these pirates have AKs, many have an RPG and sometimes multiple rounds for it.

Engaging people with AKs with a flare gun is not a sound tactic.
Expecting to let them get close and even board and deal with them with boiling oil or spears is also going to be relatively ineffective.

While it is certainly good to plan for a means of self defense, realistic results against the likely threat must be considered.
A good rifle could keep pirates in small unstable speed boats at bay.
Aiming RPGs or Aks while hitting swells in the open ocean is certainly going to be difficult, while doing the same from a larger boat less effected is easier.

However once someone lets hostile pirates on a speed boat get alongside their vessel they have lost most of their possible advantage even with a gun.
It doesn't take much to aim full auto AKs or an RPG from 50 feet or less.



1: Rules of engagement. On shore, armed self-defense happens from a few yards to contact distance. What is a threat is more easily determined. At sea, by the time a threat can be definitively determined, the tactical advantage is lost. Making the determination at a tactically sound offset is obviously going to result in a lot of false positives, the result being collateral damage (or as it is known to civilians- murder).

Not true. On the open ocean a vessel that takes your heading or one that is clearly intended to bring them to you and involves maneuvering towards you is unmistakable.
Near shore may be crowded, but dozens of miles from shore it is quite obvious if someone is trying to come to you.
Few people are going to rush up to you on the open seas. Those that do are typically intending to board either to inspect or muscle you as members of some branch of LEO of the local government, or as pirates.
If someone is speeding up to you in the open ocean and not answering on a radio when you call out to them, anticipate hostilities. Unless they are clearly lost at sea there is no reason a small speedboat should even be in the open ocean, much less with plenty of fuel on a short range craft.





The best way to survive a pirate attack? Don't sail where pirates are in the first place.

It should be noted the most recent Americans killed were captured hundreds of miles (open ocean) off the coast of Oman.
Oman is itself hundreds of miles from Somalia.
To go from the Indian Ocean to Europe essentially requires going through the Gulf of Aden (next to Somalia) and traveling through the Red Sea.
Otherwise a person has to go all the way around Africa.
The 4 killed were closer to the Gulf of Oman, hundreds of miles away from the Gulf of Aden and from Somalia when captured.
These pirates are going thousands of miles now on trips searching for prey.


Another big factor for a sailboat is working with the wind. There is only so many practical routes someone can take, going against the wind can increase the time required several fold and the winds of the world can be readily researched. They generally flow in certain directions in any region.
A large motor powered cruiser costs a fortune to use just for private cruising in fuel, and maintenance of the big powerful engines a lot more expensive than a sailboat, so most people cruising the world do so in sailboats and are limited to working with the wind.
For example the murdered couple and two passengers were on a 58 foot sailboat.
A 50 foot powerboat sea worthy enough to take on open ocean cruising around the world typically gets about .5-2MPG. Going many thousands of miles at around 1MPG would put the ability to travel out of the financial reach of even most that could manage on a sailboat.

Captain33036
March 10, 2011, 07:28 PM
Zoogster,

Many good points. One I would like to expound upon.

I think it is becoming quite clear to the bad buys in the world that the Somali Business Plan is working remarkably well. Under the Somali Business Plan, first prize is a million dollars. Second prize is an all expense paid vacation to America, free hot meals, free medical care, decent bed, books, TV, internet, library and clean clothes. All free.

Not a bad deal when you are living, day to day, hand to mouth, in some of the holes in the world.

SO....while we may be talking about Somalia today, and we are seeing that it is an ever expanding range of ocean and territory. I wonder.....if this business plan will be exported to MANY other parts of the world...

And thus....I would think that some code under international law, by which people can carry the means to defend themselves, would be an important goal.

[and yes, I realize that there is no restriction to carrying firearms in international waters..... all vessels must make port sometime...and thus something akin to the Interstate Commerce Clause..for international vessels...would be very handy...would you agree?]


My best regards,

J
ps - and I agree.... a solid plan that includes one or two good quality rifles chambered in .308 should be able to keep bad guys 500-1000 yards away. That is quite a bit better than having them onboard.

LemmyCaution
March 10, 2011, 09:45 PM
Not true. On the open ocean a vessel that takes your heading or one that is clearly intended to bring them to you and involves maneuvering towards you is unmistakable.
Near shore may be crowded, but dozens of miles from shore it is quite obvious if someone is trying to come to you.
Few people are going to rush up to you on the open seas. Those that do are typically intending to board either to inspect or muscle you as members of some branch of LEO of the local government, or as pirates.
If someone is speeding up to you in the open ocean and not answering on a radio when you call out to them, anticipate hostilities. Unless they are clearly lost at sea there is no reason a small speedboat should even be in the open ocean, much less with plenty of fuel on a short range craft.


Nothing you state above is a reasonable articulation of a threat that would legally justify the use of lethal force in any jurisdiction that recognizes armed self-defense as legitimate.

"I shot him because he got too close to me and made me uncomfortable" just isn't going to carry the day.

Of course there are those who will want to take advantage of the lack of jurisdiction to perform the marine equivalent of 'shoot, shovel and shut up.'

To the extent that outlook isn't keyboard commando bluster, it's an immoral position that has no place in a movement that advocates the right of law abiding citizens to defend themselves in an accountable manner.

Piracy is a vexing problem, for which legally and morally just and accountable solutions have not been developed.

Sadly, until international law catches up with the problem, we're kind of stuck.

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