Our intention was to leave Trinidad and Tobago and head 90 miles north to Grenada. After two different Diesel engine leaks, pulling up someone else’s anchor chain, fouling our prop with a huge fishing net and getting an unidentifiable alarm, we wondered if the gods were against us. And that’s before we had a run in with suspected Venesualan pirates. Boy did we have troubles in Trinidad and Tobago.
Thankfully, we sailed overnight and arrived safely in Grenada. Watch the video to get an idea of our troubles and then read below for a longer account of our Venesualan pirate boat incident.
Boat Life – Troubles in Trinidad and Tobago
Resources You Might Be Interested In
To get more information referenced in the video like our safety knife and the small Mantus tank set, visit our recommended Kit Page.
To watch all our Trinidad and Tobago related videos, check them out here:
- Boat Life – Dirty Water, Loud Music and & Engine Failure
- Solar Power Installation On A Sailboat (we had this job done in Trinidad)
- Hauling Out, Med Mooring & CopperCoat Update (all done in Trinidad)
- Sailing Grenada To Trinidad – Any Pirates?
More About Our Troubles In Trinidad and Tobago
So…Simon seemed relaxed about what happened on our journey. I think he was still a bit stunned by it when he recorded the video. This is my take on what happened…
Around 3am in the morning I was sleeping on the port side cockpit bench. Simon was on night watch. Something woke me up. I noticed lights shining on the back of the davits and quickly jumped up to look forward. Simon then stood up and said to me, ‘it’s that darn boat that’s been around us for the last hour.’
Before I knew what was happening my adrenaline was in full supply.
We heard lots of yelling in Spanish and kept hearing the words ‘Tuna’ over and over. At first, I thought perhaps they want to sell us a Tuna but then I thought they must have nets and we’re getting too close. They were shining lights on us and yelling. Simon said that they’ve been around him for over an hour. Surely they saw us.
The boat seemed to be fishing in that it was going back and forth. Only at the last minute, it got closer to us and then appeared to be running at full steam towards the side of our boat.
Simon shined a light on the sails and started yelling, ‘we are a sailboat’ indicating that we couldn’t maneuver quickly. As it was we were sailing around 8 knots and the seas were very choppy.
As the boat charged towards us, Simon had the engine on (he turned it on the second we heard the yelling). When the boat got a couple of boat lengths from hitting us Simon had to turn to port quickly to avoid a collision. Simon beefed himself up and started yelling words that I care not to repeat.
Simon came across like a total bad-ass.
By this time Sienna, our 8-year-old daughter, was in the cockpit wondering what was going on. I, of course, was asking Simon if he had to be so vulgar. Little did I know that it’s a tactic to make ‘Pirates’ think that you’re insane.
Our sails all went to the wrong side (we were forced into a crash tack). Simon circled the boat (no – there were no trailing nets) and then we sailed off under full engine and sail power. The fishing boat immediately fell off and we watched in slight terror as it grew smaller in the distance.
Simon and I like to give people the benefit of doubt so we thought perhaps we simply got in their way.
However, several weeks later we learned that over six of our boat friends (six separate boats) experienced the very exact same thing. My current thoughts are that the boat was trying to ram us and board.
When we got to Grenada we announced our troubles in Trinidad and Tobago to the cruisers net and interestingly we were met with some hostility. Cruisers over the net questioned our experience. They said that we must have misjudged the situation. So, we didn’t report it and chalked it up to something we couldn’t figure out.
Fast-forward to today, several months later, and now boats are having to travel down and up to Trinidad in convoy with Coast Guard escorts. The situation in Venezuela seems to be going bad to even worse. Just last month a Venezuelan fishing boat tried to board a sailboat 24 miles south of Grenada. When the boat couldn’t board, thanks to high seas, they then opened fire and shot towards the cruisers.
So…if you’re plans are to head towards Trinidad, be forewarned that it’s not very safe right now.
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Moving on. Eventually, we saw Grenada. I was still a bit shaky but I knew the trip was almost over. A few squalls hit us but nothing major. We got into Prickly Bay, anchored and took a nap. Before we knew it, Sienna had invited all her friends over and we were back into the ‘normal’ swing of cruising life.
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