Another Serious Crime Affects Yacht Crew in the Caribbean

10 March 2009 By Mark Johnston

The following story was sent to Dockwalk by Capt. Mark Johnston of M/Y Diamond Girl:

On Sunday March 8, 2009 around 4p.m. four crew from M/Y Diamond Girl were enjoying a day off the boat, driving a rental car around St Lucia’s Western coastal highway, hoping to discover some of the island’s best treasures . . . the natural beauty of the volcano and waterfalls, along with stunning views from the mountain drive.

On the return drive though Anse La Raye, The River Rock Waterfall beckoned them to take a few last photos before getting back to the boat. A two mile drive away from the main road lead to a sign for the falls, where another vehicle was also parked. The caretaker of the property and two relatives of the property owner were at the falls. They explained about the local fruit and flowers that grow in the rainforest.

Upon leaving the falls through a short hiking trail, two of the crew members returned briefly to change camera lens and take a few more pictures, while the captain and chef continued to the car. As they walked to the car, two masked young men, with sawn-off shotguns ran towards the car and asked for “everything.” They held a gun towards the chef’s leg and emptied the captain’s pockets of a digital camera and cell phone then asked for only the money from the wallet. They then went through the chef’s pockets, but she had nothing except cigarettes and a lighter.

All the time the event was rather calm and the two gunmen even returned the cell phone “chip” to the captain, upon request, and a few cigarettes to the chef, before they aggressively told the captain to drive away immediately. Knowing that the other two crew members were right behind, the captain stalled for a minute (by losing the car key) until the gunmen started heading back toward the falls entrance, with the gun pointed towards the car.

As the car crawled to about 50 yards from the falls entrance, the other two crew members reached the trail beginning and were also approached by the gunmen with the same requests. This time they retrieved some more cash, another small digital camera, a wedding ring and gold chain, but for unknown reasons did not want a very expensive SLR digital camera and zoom lens (maybe due the size, would be difficult to carry through the woods). Once they received everything from the other two crew members, they asked them to “go . . go . . go” but one of the crew members asked for the “chip” with photos on it from the camera, and again the gunmen obliged and returned it.

As the other two crew returned to the now stopped car about 50 yards away, the gunmen ran back into the woods where they had originally emerged from. The four crew went immediately to the Anse la Raye police station and reported the crime, after which at least four officers jumped into full action, with loaded firearms and drove to the scene of the crime and nearby villages, taking into custody one individual who the crew dismissed as not involved (due to his body shape and size). At the time of writing, officials have noted that they had “made arrests” in connection with the robbery, and would be contacting us very soon.

Riots and a killing in Guadaluope and Martinique, Yacht Captain killed and girlfriend shot in Antigua, Yacht Chef killed in Puerto Rico and Armed Robbery in St Lucia, Where is it safe for cruising in the Caribbean anymore? Are expensive highly visible superyachts with wealthy owners and guests becoming more targeted due to the reduction in other tourist money and the general economy downturn?

The crew of the M/Y Diamond Girl was shaken up, but thankfully not hurt and almost all that was taken can be replaced.

To all other yachts cruising the area, We urge vigilance and safe cruising, be alert and stay away from isolated areas wherever you are.

Photo of Rodney Bay, St. Lucia by Brian Millspaugh