Pirates....or just innocent fishermen?

Steve Powell
Thu 2 Dec 2010 01:11

Pirates..... or just innocent fishermen?  Fortunately we will never know.

Four hours ago, at dusk, we had our first encounter with what had all the hallmarks of an attempted boarding.

We were 75nm off the coast, due west of Santos, the sea port of Sao Paulo, an area we had been warned about. PK was on watch and I was backing him up, he spotted a fishing boat several miles off our starboard bow. We were under full sail at the time, enjoying favourable winds and kind seas. We tracked the boat for about fifteen minutes and it kept coming towards us. I changed our course several times and each time the fishing boat matched our changes keeping himself on an interception course.

When he was about a half a mile out from us I could pick him up clearly on the binoculars and his actions and manoeuvres started to make me suspicious. I could see no evidence of fishing gear, outriggers or large lights, which most of them have, and there seemed to be too many people onboard, at least eight, possibly more. At that moment two of them on the bow started to wave frantically at us, trying the get us to stop or possibly innocently try to get our attention to tell us about nets.

I decided not to take any risks and immediately furled our head sail put the engine on and headed out to sea. I called everyone up on deck and had them searching for possible nets, floats or other evidence of fishing gear. They found none.

Meanwhile our ‘fishing boat’ continued to chase us out to sea and followed us hard for about three miles when they gave up having realised that our engine was bigger than there’s!

Now they could of been innocent fishermen trying to sell us a bag of shrimp 75 miles off the coast of Brazil, or they could of been trying to warn us about nets. But why did they chase us for at least 3 miles directly out to sea and only gave up when they clearly couldn’t catch us?

I don’t want you to confuse these ‘pirates’ with the Somali breed that chase around in high speed boats with rocket launchers, their not like that. Their just criminals in old fishing boats praying on gullible passing sailors who think they need aid or want to warn them about something. They probably only have a few machetes and a flare gun between them. But you never know.

I am happy to report that we are all well, and Beans, Willie and Jude you can all start breathing again! The boys are OK.

Early decisions and calm team work averted what could have been an ugly situation.

And, of course, they still could of been innocent fishermen......... but I don’t think so.

We are well passed that area now so all is well.

(That bits for the wives)

Good night all I am going to bed, to think happy thoughts of home.

Another day on the good ship UHURU, boring it ain’t!


Steve and his intrepid crew, Botty, PK and the new boy Chris.

PS. It was noted that throughout this encounter, which lasted in all a little over 40 minutes, yours truly had a fine Davidoff Grand Cru No.3 gripped firmly between his teeth. True grit!!