The Intercostal Waterway & South to the Islands
This page is written for Canadians headed south although many of the comments apply top anyone considering spending time cruising offshore and out of territorial waters.
For the gun side of the great cruising security debate check here.
I expect to have a 2005 Island update available within a few weeks as another lucky friend is headed south to join a cruising boat. Much of this update is based on 3 friends who have returned from the 2001- 2002 winter in Florida, Cuba, a circumnavigation of Cuba and the T & C.
Cruising Seamanship Thoughts
This is Cruising Canada, cruising 2004.
A friend asked me what the five things that I would take (extra) when going cruising? The question caused me to return to some of the older pages I had written about cruising preparations to “Go South” and revisit the thoughts.
Before the things, I believe mindset is equally important and offer the following cruising wisdom:
I would take with me when leaving on a voyage:
.1. You should have more fire fighting capability, and at least offshore-recommended safety equipment.
.2. Your flares should conform SOLAS standards and contain at least 3 parachute flares, never skimp, be identifiable from the air.
.3. Duplicate spares and any special tools that might be required for maintenance while underway. Reference manuals for equipment.
.4. Exposure or survival suits and emergency abandon ship bag.
.5. Secondary communications above a VHS, or even SSB, such as a cellular or a satellite phone that handles voice and data, and an antenna.
For current political and travel advisories in any country, phone toll-free 1-800-267-6788 or in Ottawa, Ontario phone 944-6788.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade provides Travel Advisory Reports for general travel information and requirements for the United States and Florida. The Foreign Affairs Department also has a brochure called Crossing the 49th which covers many of the twists and turns for Canadians chasing the sun southward with a listing of Canadian diplomatic contacts in the US which may be useful were you to run afoul of the law.
You are a foreign vessel, and you are the Captain.
Do not take things for granted.
You must have:
VHF, SSB, or HAM RADIOS
SECURITY BOARDING'S & GUNS
I differ for many Canadian boating sites.
I SURVIVED TWO MAJOR ENCOUNTERS IN 5 YEARS, had armed people getting in my face meaning harm dozens of times, no reason to get weak knees, neutralize the threat. On the other hand I and have been boarded too many times to count, so I have been there on both sides of the argument.
I believe in armed cruising for international waters. Not gung ho crazy but responsible firearms. Know how, and be prepared to use it once clear of Canadian and USA waters if your life is threatened.
True this is a sticky point these days. When there is no one else there, my choice and conscious was always clear. Many southern states are an easy palace to finalize your requirements at a gun show or many dealers if you have a clean record or do a little hunting.
YOU WILL BE BOARDED. On the average you can expect to be boarded more often in USA waters than offshore, particularly on the way back north.Florida, Carolina's and Georgia are very vigilant due to smugglers as are Savannah and Charleston.
When you are boarded in US waters, the Captain will taken forward and the crew aft as a matter of procedure, with armed seaman at the ready. So don't be surprised this is standard a procedure.
Option B: If you build the boat is to pre plan. First your SOLAS parachute flares ready, they are you best friend. They are expensive, but if it goes wrong keep getting those bright starbursts up works wonders. I had a friend who had stanchions, rifled inside that could be turned into guns at short notice. Or my favorite using your cargo boom or spinnaker pole as a rocket launcher. A simple rocket is amazing easy to build from a hobby store and an internal primer cord makes a great delay fuse. You do not have to hit em, to scare them to an simpler target.
ABOVE ALL! Do not bring guns back into the USA or Canada due to current regulations loose them in deep water.
Talk to your doctor get adequate prescriptions for an extended time. Most doctors will help you with correct prescriptions and usage directions for an emergency medical kit if they know you and know you are headed for international waters. Take a St Johns course, you may be the only resource aboard. Drugs are a problem. Keep ALL DRUGS in original bottles. Keep a copy of the prescriptions separate (in that waterproof pouch) and the drugs in their bottles. The USA does not allow some common over the counter pain killers.
Stock drugs needed for common health problems along with a comprehensive first aid kit. You probably will use at least one of them, saving yourself a lengthy search for a doctor if you already know you have dysentery or cracked ribs.
Have a emergency dental kit, you would be amazed what you can do when choices are limited. Ensure your mouth is A-OK long before leaving and take care of them when you go. Loosing your dentures can be a real loss away from home.
Most can not have enough of this stuff, but still go. On the other hand most cruisers learn how to pick up little cash infusions along the way after a year or so. what you can do and when depends how far south and for how long. I have met some talented and resourceful individuals and cruisers as a group tend to be resourceful and interesting folk.
An Email Communications successful practice.
You will need to plan how will you handle this snail/postal mail be that a friend, family, service, money (money machines, credit card company with auto-payment, travelers checks), investment decisions.
Cruising & Piracy
In ten years of cruising I had two incidents which are the solid basis for my statements as I am here today.
Four American yachtsmen died February 22 off the coast of Somalia, killed by pirates who had hijacked the Adams' yacht, the Quest. Big mistake, not even with automatic weapons aboard should one attempt a single vessel passage though those waters as it is guaranteed trouble. There is no god who will protect you from desperate men. None of the defence preparations would have saved these people as being there alone was the error.
The bottom line is simple when confronted by a life threatening situation, which piracy or a boarding at sea or confrontation in port is, which one of you leave whole the only important thing.
Any experienced military person will tell you the longer the engagement continues the less your chances become of coming out on top. On the whole the bad guys today are more thugs than the pirates of old and do not expect resistance and will seek a softer target if you exhibit prepared resistance. Surprise and fear are your enemies, knowledge of hot areas while preparation and judgment your best defence.
In the next breath, it is important to stress that running afoul of many third world countries legal system can be nearly as dangerous and the attack itself. I believe that Speed, Silence, Stealth, Solution with a quick exit from the jurisdiction is often the best solution to continuing to enjoy your cruise.
The increase in the numbers of attacks by pirates and armed robbers on merchant ships has been causing concern. It is believed that this increase applies also to yachts, but these are not necessarily reported to the relevant authorities and the statistics do not take them into account.
The International Maritime Organization is mounting a campaign to improve the steps taken by governments throughout the world to combat this growing menace. It believes that this should take account of attacks on yachts and other recreational vessels. The International Sailing Federation has agreed to help in obtaining reports of these attacks. Only by having the figures can pressure be applied to the Security authorities throughout the world for improvements to the protection which they give to small boats both in ports and at sea. Reports should cover all incidents of piracy or of robbery in which the perpetrators are armed wherever they occur.
The word "armed" should not be restricted to firearms but includes any weapon which is used to assist in the crime. Reports should include the following information:
ISAF will collate the reports and send regular returns to IMO.
ICC Weekly Report
Report 1: 27 January 2000
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