More T&T Coast Guard patrols are expected along the North West Coast of Trinidad following a gun attack on a yacht on Sunday.
Yacht Services Association of Trinidad and Tobago (YSATT) president Tommy Johnson confirmed that following a meeting with his body yesterday, the Coast Guard said they would step up their presence in the area.
“The Coast Guard has been doing patrols but say they will step up the patrols. In actual fact, there was a boat that came back to Trinidad this morning and reported seeing the Coast Guard patrol out there,” Johnson told the T&T Guardian.
Johnson had posted details of the attack on the association’s website and social media. He said around 10.30 am Sunday, Sylph, a 55-foot Beneteau sailboat manned only by a man and his wife, was approached by a boat with eight Venezuelans about 15 nautical miles north-east of the Hibiscus oil platform. He said the yacht refused to stop and in heavy seas and high wind took an evasive zig-zag course, preventing the Venezuelans from boarding. The Venezuelans then reportedly fired shots at the boat after failing to board, hitting the vessel.
Johnson confirmed that no one on board was injured but that the boat was hit by several bullets. But while the attack was initially believed to be an act of piracy, he said he believed it may have been linked to something else.
“The fact they had guns on them to me indicates they were probably doing something else, I can’t say what, but it was probably something illicit because of the fact they had guns on them. They never completed the robbery of the people,”said Johnson.
“I personally believe this is a by-product of something else, they (couple) were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. I just think they were travelling somewhere and they just happened to see this boat en route.”
Johnson has since advised other yachties to provide float plans, which details the route, time of expected departure and arrival at a destination of a boat, as a safety procedure.
“If they file the float plan properly that gives information to the Coast Guard as to when there will be activity out there that needs monitoring,” Johnson said.
However, Johnson said his members were very unsettled by the attack, with some adjusting their trips to Grenada further east than usual.
“They’re not going to be settled. It’s a very unsettling situation that you feel when you’re in the middle of the ocean in a boat by yourself and somebody comes to rob you.
“It’s a very uncomfortable position, so we’ve also encouraged all the boats to travel as much as they can in convoys or at least on the same date,” he said.