There are two sources for "crimes against cruisers" info that you can delve into yourself: www.noonsite.com and Reports
I note that you are planning the Bahamas which is not considered the Caribe. The Bahamas are extremely safe with the possible exception of Nassau. Typically, the worst crimes are dinghy theft there.
Further down is also quite safe if you avoid the hot spots. There is almost NEVER any boardings at sea that one would characterize as piracy. Boardings are almost always at anchor and you can keep up with the hot spots as they do tend to move around a bit over time...by listening to the S&S net on the shortwave daily. Places I would avoid AT THIS MOMENT are
Venezuela, Rio Dulce, St. Vincent (Chateaublair and mainland...not the Grenadines) and Trinidad outside of Chaguramas. I would also be cautious anchoring in SE St. Lucia around the Pitons for theft issues (not violence).
All in all...the Caribe is quite safe and there are a huge number of places where even minor theft is most unusual. Security concerns should be the least of your worries...but "lock it or lose it" is always a good policy.
There was recently a boarding of a boat in Portsmouth Harbor in Dominica but they were anchored south of the mooring field.
The association that runs the mooring field is planning on adding additional patrols.
When we were there in Feb we left the dingy in front of Big Pappas during trips into town with no problems.
We visited 9 different islands between Feb and Mar and didn't have any problems. We would run a small cable, say 1/8"-3/16" thur the handle for the outboard and the attachment point for the painter and lock it at night and when at the dingy docks.
Having just completed 3 years cruising in the caribbean we feel you need to be vigilant at every island. The majority of islands are safe but you still must lock up which many cruisers do not do and always be cautious. Our real concerns for safety are Trinidad and venezuela. We don't think boaters should even venture to those areas.
We never left the boat unlocked, and locked up the dinghy on a cable every night at anchor and any time we ventured ashore. Better safe than sorry. At the same time, over several trips covering the chain from St Maarten to Grenada we never personally witnessed or heard of any incidents of concern.
I think Cam summed things up pretty well.. we heard rumours of various areas (eg our hosts avoided Rodney Bay) but even though we touched a few of his "hot spots" we ourselves did not see any problems. (Though seeing acre upon acre of Ganja plantations along St Vincent's northern shores should give you a bit of a hint!!)
I think to some extent how you present yourself and treat the locals has some bearing on how you may be treated in return. Making good use of the "boat boy" culture has its benefits as well.
Doug/Wendy... do you include Chaguramas as "Trinidad" as this has always seemed a relatively safe cruisers haven apart from the rest of the island to me. I know there have been few land based cruiser robberies over the years...and the ususal theft issues for unsecured boats/dinghys...and I would not venture alone on the rest of the island at night. Can you expand on your Trini thoughts a bit...I already understand your VZ issues and agree!
I agree with the comments Cam provided in post #3. My first hand experience in the Carib. is several years old now, but we have friends who return every year and I'm sure they would agree what he's said above.
Re the recent incident at Prince Rupert Bay in Dominica -- my experience there has been generally very good. In '05 and '06 boats were advised to anchor in the northern part of the bay. I beleive the boat that was boarded recently was in the southern part of the bay, a mile or more from where most of fleet is moored. I've been told that in the northern part of the bay the "boat boys" have banded together and during the season one of them patrols the anchorage at night as a deterence to criminal activity directed at their "client base". The local authorities on Dominica also seem very concerned that violence against the yachting community is "bad for business" and so they are agressive in pursuit of those that threaten the local economy by committing crimes against visiting yachts. When we were in Dominica we were told that most of the problems with theft occurred when a specific individual was out of jail. When he was locked up, all was peaceful. When he'd serve his time, he was released and within a month or so there would be a wave of boat robberies. He'd get caught and once he was in jail again, it would stop.
The areas where the local authorities are less committed seem to be those that are "off the beaten path", e.g. St. Vincent. Although the Grenadines are part of the same country, there's more of an effort made there to combat nautical crime because the tourist trade is vital to the economy of the islands south of St. Vincent itself.
Re Trini -- my experience and that of my friends who have summered there for the last three years has generally been as Cam indicated in #7 above. Chaguramas inside the wire, ie. inside the fenced compounds of the boat yards, was safe day or night. Smart people don't venture outside the wire at night unless they were in a taxi or on an escorted tour. When we were there, it wasn't that the bad guys were targeting foreigners, it's just that wandering down a dark street at night creates a target of opportunity whether you're a yachtie or a local. That said, in '06 there was a murder a day in Trinidad and with a population of a few million, that's a lot of killing -- but it seemed to be all related to political corruption, gang violence or drug trafficing. Violence against foreigners was random, not targeted. In '06 there were also several trash can "bombings" in Port-of-Spain that seemed to be the work of local "jhadis", but very few people were hurt in by these bombs and they eventually stopped. I know all this sounds horrific, but it really wasn't that bad being there and we felt quite safe as we toured around the island.
In the last couple of years there seem to have been incidents on the way into Chaguaramas that prudent sailors now consider carefully in planning the passage from southern Grenada to Chaguaramas.
Given the distance and the relatively tricky landfall / entrance to NW Trinidad, the passage is normally done as an overnight with the arrival timed for early morning. This places boats within 40 -50 miles of the NE Venez. coastline in the hours just before sunrise, and it's usually in the wee hours of the morning that boats have been harrassed. The "perps" involved in these offshore incidents are reported to have been mostly from Venezeula, not Trini. As Venezeula has acquired a reputation for lawlessness, the number of yachts summering there has declined and my guess is the thugs have begun searching further to the east for their targets.
I'd appreciate the views of others with more recent experience as we're headed that way in November and, at present, plan to summer the boat in Trinidad.
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