Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Violence Happens

Police aboard a panga, enroute to s/v Adena, anchored in Laguna
Diamante, near the mouth of Honduras's Rio Tinto.
La, Tela, Honduras, December 4, 2010
This week, Latitude 38 reported online that Milan Egrmajer, a 58-year-old Canadian cruiser of the vessel Adena, was murdered over the weekend by armed thieves. Adena, an Ericson 35, was anchored peacefully in a remote Honduran anchorage called Laguna Diamante. Little else is known at this time, but his adult daughter was aboard and survived, so we will soon learn more.

News such as this is broadcast quickly throughout the cruising community, via a real communication grapevine. Because friendships are made quickly before boats sail in opposite directions, the grapevine exists to shorten the seeming distance between geographically dispersed members of the community. In the couple years Adena has been out cruising, boats and crew she crossed paths with have scattered about the world. Some will hear about the tragedy via SSB radio nets, and will spread the news on morning VHF nets. Some will share recollections of their encounters with Adena and her crew in cockpit gatherings.
Cruisers will mourn the loss and be eager to learn where and how this happened, hoping to gain or reinforce knowledge they can use to safeguard themselves.
This tragic event is not isolated, but neither are attacks on cruisers common. In fact, these types of senseless, predatory crimes happen so infrequently, and their circumstances so peculiar, that their likelihood doesn’t merit much worry. What these crimes do is to:
  • open the big—yet quiet—debate among folks heading off cruising about whether or not to carry firearms aboard.
  • remind everyone to carefully consider whether or not you will fight intruders to protect your property, or cooperate fully to expedite the removal of your valuables and minimize the risk of conflict.
  • cause cruisers to evaluate the measures they can take to make their boat a bit less attractive to boarders, such as a very bright spotlight as a powerful deterrent to approaching vessels/people at night, such as alarms that are set to be tripped by boarders, and which can potentially scare off bad folks who aim to be stealthy.
  • encourage people to adopt best practices wherever they go, such as not flashing your relative wealth nor engaging in criminal commerce, such as buying drugs.
We don’t consider the risk of a run-in like this to be high. But should those odds fail us, we will do, and will have done, all we can to lessen the potential for a tragic outcome.

I am very sorry for Mr. Egrmajer, his daughter, his family, and his friends. I cannot imagine.


1 comment:

  1. I cannot imagine either. This will surely get worked over in the cruising forums and columns in coming weeks, and make a lot of non-cruisers shake their heads at the reckless choices we make. Bottom line: I feel SAFER out cruising than I did as a suburban American. I didn't need a gun then, so why would I want to add that danger to my life now? I'm sorry it's even a debate.

    It makes me so sad that one of the first assumptions people sometimes make of us is that as American cruisers we must have guns. Do we have to learn from Peter Blake again? We don't know yet if this was a similar situation, but I think it's plenty relevant.


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