An upgraded pirate warning has been issued by the Caribbean Safety & Security Net after more facts have been released about the recent death by pirates of a cruising sailor and the rescue of his wife from a life raft:
Melodye Pompa issued this statement on their behalf: The north coast of Venezuela, the Paria Peninsula in particular, continues to be the single most dangerous cruising grounds in the Caribbean, according to the reports I receive. This has been the case for twelve years and continues in that form. It behooves all of us to urge every sailor we know to avoid that coastline.
While all facts are still not known about the circumstances of the pirate attack, the couple and their yacht have been identified in a report from the Coast Guard at the Naval Base Perera in Willemstad, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles and Aruba.
Early reports told of a woman being rescued from a life raft by a passing cargo ship, the San Fernando. She told the crew she had been drifting for 13 days and that her dead husband had been lying for some of those days on the raft beside her. However the yacht, now identified as the Spirit of Cologne II, was discovered off the coast of Venezuela with the husband’s body still on board.
The San Fernando had then taken the woman for medical treatment to the port of Curacao, where she was delivered into the hands of the Coastguard, given treatment for sun blisters, and greeted by the consul for Germany, Bas Kooijman.
Since then the Coastguard has made a statement which it has circulated to other authorities in the Caribbean area, containing the following information: ‘The name of the boat is ‘Spirit of Cologne II,’ home port Koln, Germany. It was attacked on Saturday, April 3, one mile off the North coast of Venezuela along the Paria de Peninsula. The wife’s name is Angelica Ropke-Wiels, German. During the attack the husband, Hans Jorgen Ropke was shot and killed.
‘After the assailants left, Mrs Ropke stayed on the boat trying to sail in a northerly direction for four days. As all communication equipment was removed she could contact no one. She eventually abandoned the boat in favor of her life-raft and drifted away from the boat which was left floating and seemingly in good condition. She was picked up on April 16, 2010, at approx 10.35 a.m. by a merchant vessel at position 13 16 01N 67 51 01W, a location to the north east of the island of Curacao.’
There is no information as to why the sailor eventually abandoned the boat in favor of her life-raft or why she headed in a northerly direction after the attack.
The yacht, Spirit of Cologne II, has been cruising in the Caribbean since at least 1997, and is confirmed to have visited Trinidad by Donald Stollmeyer, president of Yacht Services Association of Trinidad and Tobago (YSATT) and Managing Director of Power Boats who has a record of their visit.