Back in 1995, I was sailing 3rd mate aboard the S/S Green Island. We were making an around the world transit departing New Orleans, LA , with our final destination being the Port of Singapore. The Green Island was a LASH vessel on a UN mission delivering foreign aid to underdeveloped countries.

We started off in the Gulf of Mexico, transited the Atlantic Ocean, crossed the Mediterranean Sea, sailed thru the Suez Canal and down the east coast of Africa – all without incident. Pirates were not an issue in those bodies of water. Not so today.

Once leaving that part of the world, we made our way to the Bay of Bengal where we made several stops in India and Bangladesh.

During our stay in Bangladesh, we anchored off one of the mouths of the Ganges River. The night of our final port call, a band of pirates boarded our vessel and stole all of our stern lines!  I guess that was their way of saying “Thank You” to the United Nations for delivering all that foreign aid to their country.

We eventually made our way to Singapore without incident, even our transit through the heavily pirated waters of the Malacca Straights.

I am lucky to say, that this was the one and only pirate incident I ever encountered in my sea going career. Colleagues of mine have not been so lucky. Piracy is still very much alive around the world and it’s closer to home than some realize.

It doesn’t consist of Johnny Depp boarding your vessel imitating Keith Richards.  Nor is it singled out to merely hijacking merchant vessels and disrupting shipping lanes.  It consists of modern day crooks boarding innocent passengers aboard sail boats stealing and hurting the crew.  Reports of pirate attacks off Grenada, Dominica, St. Vincent, Honduras, etc are rampant. Organizations like Oceans Beyond Piracy and websites such as are helping to keep our mariners and sailors alike updated and aware of such attacks.  I commend them both!

As for me, these days, the only pirates I tackle are the ones driving in Houston traffic. WOW, let me tell you, that’s a different set of pirates all together!

It was quite the adjustment coming ashore and driving in city traffic on a daily basis, but that is another story for another day…

Enjoy the article.


Jo Ann Cantú