Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
Books for Adults - Nonfiction
When a plane is hijacked, it’s in the news all over the world, and the hijackers can’t expect to get away with it. But when a yacht or freighter is hijacked, no one cares.
-- Boris Kulpi, attacked by pirates off Somalia, in a letter to the author
When Klaus Hympendahl circumnavigated the world between 1986 and 1991, he neither encountered pirates nor worried about them. He left his lights on and his hatchways open. We felt sure that nothing would happen to us…nobody would rob our boat. Later, on investigating reports about pirates and compiling files on two dozen accounts, his opinion changed. What I’d considered impossible had overnight become painful reality…Pirates were back on the high seas and that, in some regions, being informed was a matter of life and death for cruising sailors.
During the past six years, pirates have attacked two hundred boats (about thirty-three each year). There are no precise statistics kept on yacht piracy, but through the author’s research he discovered there are differences between those who prey on merchant ships and those who attack bluewater cruisers. The latter pirates are less structured, work alone or in small groups, and they often haunt the waters in places other than those where merchant ships are attacked. The primary motives of these pirates are poverty and desperation -- the desire to survive.
Hympendhal’s purpose in writing Pirates Aboard! is to make others aware of the problem haunting mariners today. He provides case studies of attacks, dividing them into world regions and including pertinent data about the boats, their owners, and the time and place of the attack. He usually recaps what he learned from interviews with the victims, but sometimes allows them to poignantly tell of the attack in their own words. Each story concludes with questions and answers about what weapons the boat owners possessed at the time of the attack, what they felt they did right and wrong, and what they would do differently if attacked again. He also gives suggestions on what yachtsmen can do to ensure their safety, answering questions such as How do I get away? Who do I call for help? How do I defend myself? What things should I hide?
This is a compelling book that provides specific information about modern piracy and what yachtsmen can do to increase their chances of surviving an attack. Although he includes several well-publicized incidents (including the murder of Sir Peter Blake and the shooting that paralyzed thirteen-year-old Willem van Tuijl), most of these cases went unnoticed by the public. The author makes the victims and their experiences real for readers. Anyone who reads this book will come away with a new perspective on the dangers of sailing and how our own actions at times invite pirates to attack. Pirates Aboard! is a must read for anyone who desires to sail to foreign ports, or just dreams of doing so.
For more information about Modern Piracy please visit these sites:
IMB Piracy Reporting Centre
International Sailing Federation
Modern Piracy Resources
Book Review Copyright ©2004 Cindy Vallar
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