Cruise Venezuela? Forget about it. St. Lucia and St. Vincent? Beware. Avoid anchoring out in Guatemala, too. Cuba, on the other hand, “has virtually no crime against yachtsmen.” So writes economist Catherine Hebson in
the most recent edition of the Caribbean Security Index, an
online resource for cruisers.
In January, British cruiser Roger Pratt was gunned down
by robbers trying to board his boat while anchored at St.
Lucia. His wife, Margaret, whom he was trying to protect,
suffered cuts and bruises on her face trying to fight the
assailants. Both were 62.
To get its ratings, Hebson’s system combines crime reports
with an analysis of underlying cultural, political and economic
factors. Her methods resemble the analytical practices of
government intelligence agencies. Each locale is rated for
security at marinas and at anchor on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10
being the safest.
Safety at St. Lucia marinas was rated at 9. 5 (and falling),
while safety at anchor scored a 7, which is pretty bad for
an island that bills itself as the honeymoon capital of the
Caribbean. Looking at the map, we can see that St. Lucia is
part of the Windward Islands in the Eastern Quadrant, which
had the highest incidence of crime last year.
The island of St. Vincent, also in the
Windwards, scored a 5. 6 for security at anchor. In
October, the sailing vessel Rainbow was anchored
off Union Island, when machete-wielding robbers
attacked the two people aboard, Mark Beiser and
Christina Curtin. Beiser drove the attackers off
with a kitchen knife, but not before Curtin’s face
was slashed. Union is in the Grenadines between
St. Vincent and Grenada.
Grenada is generally well liked by cruisers, but
its security rating is declining, too. Hebson rates
Grenada marinas at 8. 7 and gives anchoring a 7. 8.
“Good place to visit generally with low crime, good
yachting facilities and repair opportunities. Nice
anchorages and harbors in the company of many
other cruisers,” Hebson writes. “Reported 2013
thefts up slightly from 2012.”
Venezuela’s coast in the Southeast Quadrant
is regarded as the most dangerous place in the
Caribbean, even though the number of crimes reported was
down to only three in 2013.
“News of violent crime travels fast and far,” Hebson writes.
“These crimes surface quickly and in detail, whether or not
the victim wishes to be public. From CSI research, if crime is
down in Venezuela, whether on the mainland or in the islands,
Cruisers wishing to transit Venezuelan waters en route
from the Grenadines or Trinidad to the safety of the Dutch
Caribbean island of Bonaire have been forming convoys for
mutual protection, although the effectiveness of the tactic is
Meanwhile, the safest cruising grounds happen to be the
closest to home. The benefits of a police state are reflected
in Cuba’s 9. 8 security rating. The Caymans also rate 9. 8. The
Dominican Republic scores 9. 6 at marinas and 8. 8 for its
anchorages, due to incidents of petty theft. Haiti scores poorly
except for some specific locales, such as Ile a Vache, a 9. 6
anchorage. Puerto Rico gets a 9. 6, anchored or at a marina.
Hebson and others attribute declining security in the
Caribbean to a combination of factors; they say Caribbean
crime is driven by the economic downturn and the fact the
islands lie on the path of drug traffickers moving contraband
Pirates of the Caribbean:
Security Index Rates the Islands
News & Notes
ISLAND CRIME RATINGS. To learn about security on
each island, scan the QR code or visit www.passagemaker.
com and enter the search term “CSI Index.” You may also
download the index from www.freecruisingguides.com.