Startling news out of Corsica this week: Pirates pulled up alongside the sailing yacht Tiara and robbed the crew and guests at gunpoint.
According to several published news reports, the 178-foot fast cruising sloop, built by Alloy Yachts in 2004 and popular on the charter circuit, was at anchor Sunday evening when a speedboat approached. Armed and masked, the thieves ordered the captain and crew to open the safe and the guests to hand over valuables. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, jewelry, and artwork were reportedly taken.
Thankfully, no one was said to be hurt (though emotionally I’m sure everyone was shaken up, to say the least), and the gunmen departed within about 10 minutes. The captain quickly notified the French Coast Guard, which is still looking for the speedboat. The agency says no shots were fired, and the captain and crew did exactly what they’re trained to do: not fight back.
While we’re sadly accustomed to hearing of piracy in African and Asian waters, the fact that this occurred in the Med is what makes it even more astonishing. Obviously thieves know no boundaries, but the French Coast Guard says that until now there have been no notable attacks on yachts in recent years. Indeed, I can’t recall of anything along these lines.Tiara‘s attack therefore seems an isolated incident, though of course that doesn’t mean anyone can be complacent–especially since the pirates are still out there.
Let’s hope they’re caught and that this assault isn’t repeated elsewhere. I plan to follow the story and will post updates accordingly. In the meantime, the captain and crew, even the guests, deserve praise for resisting the urge to overpower the attackers. The “fight or flight” instinct can overrule better–and in this case safer–behavior.