Arms on Board! The Benefits and Drawbacks of Carrying Armed Weapons While You Sail, Part 1

Nope, we´re not talking about flares, although you can use them to defend yourself, of course. Today, we´re talking about firearms—revolvers, launchers, rifles, pistols, shotguns, submachine guns—and the pros and cons of carrying them on board your sailboat. What a controversial topic!

The Pros

You Can Defend Yourself Against Attack (Pirates)

According to The Statistics Portal, the number of pirate attacks has actually been falling since 2011. However, cruise into certain regions of the world, and the chances you might get attacked by a gang of pirates rises substantially!

Check out the list of dangerous waters on YachtPals, and you´ll come across the following highest-risk countries:

  • Nigeria
  • Somalia
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Tanzania
  • Peru

Then there are areas where you should be extra cautious, which include:

  • Bangladesh
  • Indonsia
  • Malacca Straits
  • Philippines
  • Singapore Straits
  • Lagos (Nigeria)
  • Dar es Salaam (Tanzania)
  • Mombasa (Kenya)
  • Nigeria
  • Somalian waters
  • Arabian Sea
  • Brazil
  • Peru

Pirate attacks are happening all the time. Check out´s piracy reports for 2016: sailors have most recently reported yacht security problems in Tobago, Grenada, Costa Rica, Trinidad, Colombia, Martinique and the Dominican Republic. So no one can pretend that there aren´t problems out there. Here is the Commercial Crime Services´ Live Piracy and Armed Robbery Report 2016. The most recent addition to the list includes this account:

“21.09.2016: 0252 LT: Posn: 09:18.47N – 013:45.51W, Conakry Anchorage, Guinea.
Six robbers armed with guns boarded and fired upon the duty crew onboard an anchored container ship. Master activated the SSAS alert, raised the alarm and locked the accommodation. The robbers however, gained access into the ship by breaking the bridge wing windows. After taking the crew hostage the robbers ransacked and looted every crew cabin, stole crew personal belongings, ship’s cash and escaped. The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre liaised with the Guinea Navy who responded and boarded the ship. All crew reported safe.”

The total economic cost of Somali piracy, in terms of re-routing, insurance, security equipment and guards, military operations and prosecutions and imprisonment in USD for 2011 was $6,600 million. Now we´re not talking about petty theft, here. This is criminal violence and robbery at sea.

Now let´s face facts: you might go on vacation to Indonesia, and be unarmed and just as vulnerable to attack as the next man, or woman. You might join a crew with strangers and get into trouble. But when you´re on a boat, with no authorities to protect you within many nautical miles, inside a boat that is not bulletproof—a boat that is your own real protection from the outside elements, there in the middle of the ocean (or practically). Now that does make you vulnerable. You may be put in a situation where defending yourself with a firearm is your only chance of survival.

You Can Defend Yourself Against Predators

Most people buy and use firearms to defend themselves from other humans. Usually pirates, thieves or rapists. But what about animals? While most sailors understands that the risks of getting eaten by a shark are not as heavy as most would imagine, you never know what might happen. Having a firearm onboard to protect yourself, your family and other crew can come in handy at that critical moment you might never have imagined ever happening. It could be a rabid dog, an aggressive monkey or any sea mammal out of control.

You Can Use Them to Attract Attention When Flares Run Out

Yip, that extra preparation for emergency situations is a smart move. Guns are pretty loud, after all.

Check out Part 2 for the cons of carrying arms on board.

Arms on Board! The Benefits and Drawbacks of Carrying Armed Weapons While You Sail, Part 2

Somali Pirates Make Fatal Choice




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