Safety, Piracy and Atlantic/Caribbean & Gulf of Mexico windstorm bulletins update

With apologies for the prolonged delay in producing these reports, normal service will now be resumed.

Safety circulars

We have a number of MAIB reports we'd like to review and in addition, some unpublished reports from commercial vessels, which we will circulate over the coming days. Please note, we have a backlog of MAIB reports to cover and some of you will already be familiar with them.

Piracy reports

A number of addressees will also note that there have been no Gulf of Aden /Indian Ocean piracy reports for some time. As our address list is predominately yacht-based, we do not consider events in West Africa to feature on the yacht Captain's worry list, although we do recognise the brutality being experienced by unfortunate seafarers to far exceed the normal practice of our friends in Somalia. Should any addresses require live information on West African piracy, please contact us.

We acknowledge that piracy in the Indian Ocean is at a long-awaited and most welcome stage of there being no ships currently held. We do see reports of approaches and even a suspected attack off Oman earlier this week, but are not convinced that these are genuine. We have a number of reasons to doubt current reports of activity –

- There is a significant amount of fisherman in the western Indian Ocean operating both legitimately and illegitimately. Fishermen, in particular, may be armed and may approach merchant shipping in an attempt to protect their fishing equipment or to chase shoals of fish. As a consequence, such activity may be misinterpreted as pirate activity.

- This is the time of the southwest monsoon and conditions are extremely unfavourable unusual for Somali pirates to operate in the Gulf of Oman during a time when the suppressive conditions of the southwest monsoon hinder pirate ability.

- Perish the thought that some PMScs may falsely report near misses as suspicious approaches of course.

- Officials in Oman and Iran have advised us for some time that the area on either side of the Straits of Hormuz is heavily populated with drug and people traffickers operating between Iran and the UAE/Yemen. Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the Royal Oman Police have a joint initiative to combat this and there is much pursuit and frequent exchanges of gunfire. Lives have been lost amongst the law enforcement agencies and coastguards in patrolling this area. As a consequence, few government agencies in this area will waste time and effort pursing the soft approach. Hence the bad guys move very quickly, don't mind cutting close to merchant ships and will shoot at anything that gets in the way. We don't hear much of this as it puts Iran in a co-operative light that doesn't always suit the western press – only in my opinion of course. The Somalis know this too and won't mix with navies or patrols that don't do the touchy feely EU/US stuff.

- The entire western Indian Ocean area is still thick with naval patrols and merchant ships carrying armed guards, but this is not an indefinite measure, and the bad guys know that too.

- Have things changed ashore in Somalia to prevent a resurgence of piracy? Hard to say. Have the small number of gang leaders decided collectively to sit it out until the heat is off before resuming attacks? Only time will tell. Certainly, Afweyne who was arrested recently in Brussels had made a big play on retirement, but there are still mouths to feed and a fairly sophisticated business model which will be difficult to walk away from. Is it yet safe for yachts to transit this area? We think not.

Atlantic/Caribbean & Gulf of Mexico windstorm bulletins

These are now circulated to a separate address list. Please contact us if you wish to be added.

We would take this opportunity to remind all that we do not pass addresses to third parties or use them for sales and marketing purposes, just a desire to give something to the greater good.