By now you all know that the four sailors of the S/V Quest hijacked off the Somalian coast have been killed by their pirate captors, with two pirates killed and more than a dozen taken prisoner by the US Navy. Reports differ on what exactly happened, though a US warship was shadowing the yacht when land-based negotiations seemed to break down and the pirates fired on the warship. Gunshots were heard aboard the yacht and when the SEAL team boarded, they found the hostages dead or dying.
Regardless of your view of missionaries (which the boat owners but not the crew were), this is the first time US sailors have been murdered by the lawless Somalian pirates, and hopefully, the incident will finally light a fire under the political incompetents who have prevented an effective solution to the escalating problem thus far. Whether the solution is privatized military might, international task forces, or the US Navy diverting assets to the very problem it was created to fight more than 200 years ago, we don’t know. What we do know is that no stretch of high seas – especially one more than 1500 NM wide – should not be subject to the vagaries of criminals. Piracy has been stamped out many times before. The methods are not particularly complex, though they are not pretty. But neither is the murder of innocent sailors.
Here’s a word about the two Seattle-based crew – J/109 racers Bob Riggle and Phyllis Mackay (pictured above) – that were killed, from an Anarchist that knew them. Join the conversation or share your condolences for some well-regarded sailors here.
When analyzing this horrible situation everyone should know the following. Phyllis and Bob, my friends and sometimes sailing partners, are extremely cautious and levelheaded sailors. On their previous trip through these waters on Bob’s boat, they took every precaution possible. They were traveling with the Blue Water Rallies group and they all stuck together and followed the agreed protocol. Sailing through these waters was of great concern to both of them. They understood the danger and the necessary precautions. We talked about it several times and in those conversations they said they would never make the trip without the safety of a group and a plan. In fact the group of boats they sailed with last time actually practiced drills and routines on how to react in the event the group was approached by pirates. Read on.