This comment was left on my previous entry. Something seems to be going seriously wrong in the eastern Caribbean...
Australian's Death Triggers Antigua Outrage
In the midst of preparation for the 42nd Antigua Sailing Week, the largest and most spectacular regatta of the Caribbean, the island is in uproar and yachts are leaving in droves, as the yachting community grieves in anger about the shooting death of Australian 38-year-old yacht skipper Drew Gollan.
Some yachts have already left for neighbouring islands including St. Maarten, Nevis and St. Barts.
During a meeting convened yesterday at a local entertainment hotspot yachtsmen and residents alike openly and aggressively expressed their frustration at the incident that claimed a colleague’s life.
Some of those gathered hurled expletives and chastised the police and those in authority for allowing rough elements to infiltrate the community.
'Some of the yachts have already decided to leave, others are considering it. Some have left,' one yachtsman’s angrily shouted.
Another member of the yachting community announced that he had just received a phone call notifying him of a captain’s meeting in St. Maarten, where a decision was taken that 'no single boat will return to Antigua.'
Reportedly, based on the discussions from that meeting, directives were given for the yachtsmen to moor their vessel in neighbouring islands.
One captain said he has been coming to Antigua for over 20 years and because of this incident, he will be pulling out of Antigua and added that he does not plan to return until the crime situation is brought under control.
Another boat captain, who said that he lives here, said he was given instructions to leave Antigua as well. He said he will not be returning until next year.
John Duffy, President of the Antigua and Barbuda Yacht Association said despite the tragedy he was hoping that the skippers would stay, but said the decision is solely theirs, adding that he understands the risk in keeping their boats in Antigua.
He said something urgently needs to be done to protect the industry, now at the brink of collapsing.
Tourism Minister Harold Lovell, who was present at the meeting and obviously overwhelmed by the situation, tried to offer some comfort to the yachtsmen.
He asked them not to leave and promised that everything is being done to bring the perpetrators to justice.
While expressing sorrow at the prospects of having to leave, one captain said that he cannot afford to put his crew at risk and told the minister he will leave today.
The Caribbean lies on the critical route between the gigantic drug suppliers of Colombia and the world's biggest market, the USA. Drugs are said to be the cause of much of the crime in the Caribbean. Cruising sailors have set up their own Caribbean Safety and Security Net to try to deal with the ongoing issue.
Drew Gollan's partner, Alena Sitkova, who was also wounded in the incident, said that Gollan had died trying to protect her and their baby daughter Carolina, when they were attacked by a would-be robber. He sustained three gunshot wounds to the chest and was dead on arrival at the local hospital.
The couple had been planning to settle in Hervey Bay in Queensland where Gollan had been previously employed as a Whale Watching skipper.
And this comment in Yachting World is fascinating...
$20,000 reward for conviction of Antigua killer
The owner of the 163ft Perini Navi ketch Perseus has put up a reward of US$20,000 for information leading to the conviction of the killer of his captain Drew Gollan who died last week in a shooting incident in Antigua.
John Duffy, president of the Antigua and Barbuda Marine Association issued a statement to this effect together with news that an unnamed skipper had offered an additional US$10,000 for the capture and conviction of Gollan's killer and that ABMA had agreed to oversee the fund.
In a further attempt to prevent yachts leaving and to reassure yachtsmen and other visitors that more was being done to ensure their safety, Antigua's National Parks department has pledged part of its rental income to investing in CCTV security cameras in and around Falmouth and English Harbours. Local police intend to instigate foot patrols to carry out regular 'stop and search for vehicles and persons carrying illegal weapons and drugs'.
The Marine Association also said in a press release: "The Dockyard police station will be manned permanently. Zero tolerance will be applied to both dealers and users of illegal drugs - without exception."
Sources in Antigua have told Yachting World that drug abuse among the local yachting community is widespread, something that needs to be eradicated to cut demand.
Yachting World/David Glenn, 28 January 2009