Pirates: to fight back or not?


Twice in as many months I have sat down to yacht club dinners and listened to fellow diners expressing fears of a new unknown: whether they will ever face an act of piracy at sea and, if so, what they should do about it.

Most are in my camp: make them a cup of tea, call them ‘Sir’, hand over cash, High Street goods etc and give them a course to steer back to terra firma.

A few more adventurous souls, however, believe a physical broadside is the kind of international language they will understand. Trouble is today’s corsairs aren’t Johnny Depp-style swashbucklers, but like as not Kalashnikov-wielding,14-year-old, half-starved youths indoctrinated with a mal-interpreted ideology and no great love of fat, tanned westerners in half million pound yachts.

In other words if you want to take them on you have got to know what you are doing when it comes to killing. Unless you are an ex-serviceman it is likely that the pirates will have more experience of battle tactics than you do.

At last Saturday’s Royal Burnham Yacht Club Old Gaffer’s Dinner I was told of a yachtsman who rammed and capsized a pirate RIB off Somalia. His action, while heart-warming, has done no favours for yachtties following in his wake. Next time those pirates will shoot first. So put the coffee on and hand over your wallet.