Incompetence isn’t a quality I appreciate in most people,
but thankfully the thief who boarded our boat last night might want to consider
keeping his day job. If he has one.
Despite traveling through some very poor countries, theft
isn’t something we worry about very often. Like most cruisers, we’re aware our
home can look like a floating department store to some people. So when we’re in
a region is known for petty theft, we close our hatches and keep surfaces clear
of easily-seen, easy-to-grab high value items like phones, cameras, tablets and cash. On
occasions we even lock up the boat.
|the closest locals to our boat are these guys--two baby herons|
The kind of theft we tend to expect is opportunistic theft; like when
our unlocked dinghy was stolen by drunks from the dinghy dock in Brisbane, or when tools were grabbed from the side deck in Mexico. What we
don’t expect is to be boarded by a swimmer while we’re sleeping, have a thief enter our
cabin and then rummage through our stuff. Not only is that sort of freaky—but I always
assumed we’d hear if someone climbed aboard. Or that Charlie the guard cat
would attack intruders, or meow or purr loudly in warning…
|There aren't many signs of theft in town--just lots of signs that indicate people take fish into inappropriate locations|
None of that happened though.
While Port Victoria on Mahe used to have a poor reputation, in recent years it's been pretty safe. But at some point late last
night someone swam to our boat and boarded using our back steps. Then he came
into the cabin (and missed the camera, laptop and tablet) but grabbed my phone,
backpack and a couple of Maia’s bags. After taking the bags back into the
cockpit and quickly rifling through them (finding Maia’s change purse but
luckily missing my wallet—which would have been the jackpot considering I went to the bank yesterday) he took his little bit of loot,
and our dinghy, and headed into the anchorage where he hit at least one other
boat—grabbing a backpack and stealing a laptop and iphone from an Austrian catamaran.
Cats have a lot of great qualities (the two hulled, not the
purring ones) and being easy to board and having wide open cabins are usually
counted as bonuses. Except being easy to board and having wide open cabins also
makes them attractive to thieves. My own informally gathered statistics seem to
indicate that catamarans are hit more often than monohulls—and the fact the
three boats that were robbed in this anchorage (including a French boat two
weeks ago) are all cats reinforces it.
The second (that we know of) boat to be robbed last night
woke up when the intruder left. He blew his airhorn (which we slept through)
and then lost sight of the thief and our dinghy. This morning we were woken by
a local guy who watches a couple of boats, and who noticed our dinghy wasn’t
where it should be, but was instead on an empty catamaran. He and a friend
brought the dinghy back to us and at that point we noticed the pile of bags in
A short while later the coastguard came by. It was nice to
see how seriously the minor theft was taken and how mortified the locals were.
Two locals helped with a search on the island beside us—with the hope the thief
had stashed all our stuff for retrieval later. We also tried to call my phone—but just
got voicemail. Later in the morning the Seychelles land police also came out to the boats—the locals who brought our dinghy back to us had called them and arranged for the visit. Finger printing is next. Seriously.
When we commented that is seemed like a big reaction to minor theft the police officer let us know any problem we have is a big problem--and in the Seychelles, they don't like theft.
|Victoria is a peaceful moderately affluent town|
In our case we were lucky. My phone was a cheap one that was
due for replacing and the internet data that was on it was easily transferred to
a replacement phone. Maia was bummed to lose the change purse that was given to
her by dear friends in Brissie (Desire, she’s so sad…) but she was happy it
only contained a little bit of money.
For the most part the theft was more of a lesson than a
violation. We travel in a very trusting way—and we have no intention of
changing the belief that most people we encounter are not out to get anything
from us. But our belongings are equally (if not more) valuable to us as they
are to potential thieves. And being an easy target is something we can easily
change with a bit more diligence—especially with Comoros
From now on we’ll be pulling our dinghy up at night. The
other cat that was boarded and robbed had their main cabin door closed, but the
thief went through a window—so we’ll be closing our door and locking our
hatches in their ‘ajar’ position (fortunately nights are cool here—the idea of
needing bars on hatches is really unappealing). We’ve tried pressure mats
before, but the cat tripped them, though we have heard some boats have had good
success with motion sensors—so we’ll check out that option. Finally, we have
personal alarms in the bedrooms. These are little self-activated alarms I
picked up in Brisbane that I thought I could use if I heard someone board us—unfortunately
I sleep better than I thought.
For those who have prepped their boats for high theft areas—any
tips for us?