Over 30 letters from skippers have confirmed support for Antigua but asked for 'better protection' on island

Following the tragic murder of Australian yacht skipper Drew Gollan (pictured) in Antigua last week (Thursday, 22nd January), John Duffy, President of the Antigua & Barbuda Marine Association, gave Yachting Monthly the following statement to set the record straight:

‘At a meeting of yacht skippers chaired by me and attended by the Commissioner of Police, the need for the protection of the yachting community was established. Over 30 letters from skippers have been received confirming their support for Antigua but requesting better protection.

‘There have been suggestions that a number of yachts were likely to leave Antigua as a result of the murder. However, on cool reflection, most skippers agreed that Antigua was still a safe Caribbean destination. One skipper, who had been ordered to take his yacht to an alternate island, said: “It’s out of the frying pan and into the fire”. Another skipper, also ordered to leave, stated that he knew that Antigua was basically safe, despite a rise in crime, not unknown throughout the world.

‘Getting the message through to worried boat owners, charterers and yacht management companies has been much more difficult. It is reported that there have been some cancellations. This has been rather an over-reaction considering the substantially larger numbers of murders on other Caribbean islands that do not get reported as they are so commonplace,’ said Duffy.

‘To date only three yachts to my certain knowledge have left as a result of the murder, with a rumoured further three also leaving. From my house I can continually see yachts coming and going, so I checked with Immigration and discovered that the majority of departing yachts had already been booked to leave before the murder and that an equivalent number had arrived. With over 100 yachts still in Falmouth and English Harbours, there has not been the mass exodus some had predicted.

‘As the President of the Antigua & Barbuda Marine Association I attended many meetings after the murder and had numerous telephone and email conversations with members of Government and officers at all levels of the Royal Police Force of Antigua & Barbuda.

‘The result of these discussions is a strategy which will seriously enhance the safety and security of visiting yachts, their crew and their guests. Details can be found in the NEWS section of the Antigua & Barbuda Marine Association website – www.abma.ag

‘The good news is that on 30th January the alleged murderer was arrested and charged with the homicide of Drew Gollan. This was as a direct result of good police work and the co-operation of the public,’ said Mr. Duffy.