| Murder in St.
Info from Latitude 38:
28, 2011 â Netherlands Antilles
A pall has been cast over this
weekend's Heineken Regatta in St. Martin, one of the great sailing
regattas in the world, as the result of the weekend murder of a
37-year-old French causcasian cook from the megayacht Cheetah Moon. The
cook was found "seriously injured" on the ground near Mullet Bay, one of
the nicer places on the island. In St. Martin, "seriously injured" means
he'd been stabbed, had his teeth extracted, his eyes gouged out, his
nipples cut off, and been set on fire. He was flown to Martinique for more
sophisticated treatment, but died from his horrific injuries.
Martin is a huge base to yachts and many megayachts. As a result of the
murder of Cheetah Moon's cook, the St. Maarten Marine Trades Association
expressed outrage at the increase in crimes against members of the marine
community. Association Treasurer Lorraine Talmi told the local paper,
"This is not the first time nor, do I fear, will it be the last. In fact,
this is the second time in a week that a crew member was abducted from the
Simpson Bay area. The first one managed to escape, and perhaps that is
why, if it is the same gang, the second one wasn't nearly as
Readers may remember that solo circumnavigator Mike Harker
of the Manhattan Beach-based Hunter 49 Wanderlust 3 was severely beaten on
his boat on the hook in St. Martin's Simpson Bay.
We don't know if
it's still there, but the Customs and Immigration Office in St. Maarten
used to have a poster warning captains and crews of the dangers of gangs
of male youths on the island.
We go to St. Martin on a regular
basis, and we'll probably be going there for this weekend's Heineken
Regatta. But when we're on the island, we remain acutely aware of our
surroundings and the circumstances. As a rule, we don't go anywhere alone
after dark. We stick to the more crowded areas, and feel safest on the
hook or on the beach.
The shame of it all is that St. Martin, which
is half French and half Dutch, is spectacularly beautiful, with great
bays, a huge lagoon, lots of beaches, and some wonderful people. In fact,
it's one of the most naturally beautiful islands in all of the Caribbean.
But once again, it's an island where a small minority of residents,
invariably young males, are destroying the reputation and economic
opportunities for everyone else. Remarkably, the island has withstood the
global recession better than most, and building continues
If we were asked to rate the danger to the personal
safety of mariners in the Caribbean, with 10 at the high end of the scale,
we'd put it at about 7.5. And St. Martin, in particular, even higher. On
the other hand, we'd put Mexico at about 1.5. One of the reasons is that
mariners are specifically targeted in the Caribbean, whereas they aren't
in Mexico, because narco trafickers are only interested in killing one
another, and except for Acapulco, not on the coast.
We don't want
to frighten people away from chartering in or cruising to St. Martin, but
if you go there, it's our opinion that you need to be on guard at all
times, and best in a