Armed Boarding and Robbery: Colombia, Santa Marta, Taganga Bay

Important information for boats heading to Colombia from the Eastern Caribbean. Taganga bay is a favorite stopover for cruising yachts waiting for Colombia clearance. The marina in Santa Marta is the only secure alternative.

On September 24th 2012 we were victims of an armed attack and robbery on board our yacht anchored in the bay of Taganga. We were anchored in the middle of the bay, it is not that big…

Four men with a gun boarded the yacht during the night at around 02:00 am. They were fisherman who arrived paddling their canoe. They appeared to be high on drugs. They entered via the companionway, which was open as we do not have AC and it is the only way to keep cool.

There were 3 of us aboard and we were made to lie on the floor face down and our hands were tied behind our backs. They went through the whole boat taking money/computers/cameras/DVD player/fishing gear/flashlights/pepper spray gun/my wife’s shoes (their size..). They turned the boat upside down. A harrowing experience to lie on the ground and feel the books from the shelves landing on your back.

When they left, they took the dinghy to tow their canoe. The inflatable (with engine) was later recovered.

One of the crew members tried to resist when they entered and he had to go to hospital afterwards to get 20 stitches in his head.

Please note – it took the Coast Guard an hour to get to us after they were notified.

There was another boat in the bay, but between 02:00 am and 04:00 am it blows up to 30 knots – so screaming and shouting does not get you anywhere.

Lessons Learned:

1. Do NOT check in while in Taganga Bay. The check in process takes 1 to 2 weeks so your boat becomes a fixture in the bay, not a good idea.

2. Do get a security gate(s) so you can lock the boat without suffocating. This simple measure might have prevented the whole ordeal. DO NOT GO TO COLOMBIA WITHOUT ONE.

3. We understood there was a rumor that we had a lot of money on board. We did ask for lobsters for the night, maybe skip that the next time… (not sure if that was the source of the rumor but no idea where else they might get the idea from).

4. A flare gun/pepper spray might have worked/might not have worked. They had a gun (will luckily never know whether it actually worked) and were likely high on coke. We did not see the gun immediately so
god knows in what way any escalation would have worked out. The 20 stitches hurt…..

As reported by Arjan at


Author: Blue Water Sailing

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