Safe, or am I looking through rose colored glasses?
Grenada is the hurricane season refuge for thousands of cruisers. The fact that the island is historically quite safe from tropical storms is only one of the many reasons why people choose to congregate here. The beautiful countryside, protected bays, and excellent infrastructure are other motivators why we, and many of our boat-bound brethren, opt to stay here year after year. That said, one of the most significant reasons why we come here has nothing to do with anything so tangible as a well-stocked chandlery, or a reef-protected bay. It’s the friendliness of the people, and the fact that we feel safe here. Is that changing? I’d like to believe that it’s not.
When crimes against cruisers occur, the news spreads like wildfire. Stories, that in the past, might have taken months to travel from sailor to sailor by word of mouth, are now communicated instantly over the internet. Rebecca and I pay very close attention to security issues that could affect us, and while we haven’t avoided a location solely because of news of local crimes, the reports do factor into our overall travel plans.
This is reality, not TV!
Just the other day an incident worthy of a TV crime drama occurred here in Grenada. A cruiser, while walking his dog on our beloved Hog Island, was accosted at gunpoint by two individuals, and then forced to bring them back to his boat. Once on board, the criminals made the gentleman and his wife raise anchor, and directed them to sail the boat to Puerto Rico. Either by design, or by luck, the vessel was driven onto a reef as it exited the harbor, stopping their progress. The criminals then panicked, and abducted the wife, exiting the boat with her in the vessel’s tender. At some point following that, the kidnappers apparently came to their senses, and released the woman, reportedly unharmed. I’ve since read that the two men have been IDed, but have yet to be apprehended.
If the above story sounds crazy to you, believe me, it shocked all of us too, and that includes the Grenadian citizens! This incident, along with the recent stream of boat burglaries, has many of the cruisers on heightened security alert. While I don’t blame people for feeling the need to do so, I don’t want to always be looking over my shoulder!
Hog Island, Grenada, one of our favorite spots. Coincidentally, Rebecca and I were jogging on the back side of the island on the same day that the incident took place. Photo by Joshua Yetman.
On the morning radio net cruisers are warned to be vigilant, to be aware of their surroundings, and to lock up their boat and their possessions. We have been instructed to keep an eye out for suspicious activity, and to take note of, and report anything unusual. While all this sounds perfectly logical given the circumstances, and I sincerely appreciate my neighbors looking after our well being, I still resent the fact that it seems necessary.
Perhaps I am being unrealistic, but one of the biggest reasons we stay here is that we consider Grenada safe. Over the years, I have told anyone who would listen that Rebecca and I would feel perfectly at home walking around here at night. Now we are being told that we should avoid unpopulated areas, and stay in groups? No. I choose not to!
Even though, after these incidents, heightened awareness does seem somewhat prudent, I refuse to live my life always on alert. I am also not going to believe anything other than the fact that the vast majority of people are good. I have too much evidence to prove that this is true. Some might argue that I’m not being smart, or that I’m looking at things through rose-colored glasses. I simply disagree. I can assure you that if Rebecca and I really felt unsafe here, we would leave. That is the benefit of being a cruiser. In spite of this serious incident, and other misc. crimes, in my opinion, Grenada remains a safe shelter. I hope that most people remain as convinced of that as I am.