By Kenton X. Chance
A businessman who operates a bar at Wallilabou Bay says the attack on a yacht last week that left a German man dead, will negatively affect businesses in the area.
“Of course, these events retard that,” Anthony Edwards, who is also known as “Shadow”, told iWitness News.
“This is where hard currency comes into our country. Tourism is indisputably the leading foreign currency earner in this country,” he said, adding that more can be done to prevent crimes against yachties at the Central Leeward anchorage, where much of the Pirates of the Caribbean sequel was filmed.
Edwards has repeatedly complained via radio about security at the anchorage.
“Wallilabou Bay has economic potential beyond the idiotic, childish imaginations of the community and our people, but especially the community, because tourism has been here a while — even before Disney,” Edwards said.
He said persons in the area can see the value of their properties increase exponentially if tourism is handled right.
“The right kind of tourism, which means where guests can come in and enjoy themselves, feel safe and have a good time enjoying the local culture,” he said.
Edwards, who has been running “Pirates Retreat”, an establishment popular with sailors since it opened 10 years ago, noted that yachties contribute significantly to the Vincentian economy.
“They come in, the only thing they take from us is a memory. They enjoy our meals; they create a market for our products. For the fruits, the vegetables, the meat…
“When we murder them, beat them, steal from them or butcher them, we destroy it,” he said, noting the speed at modern technology communicates information.
“It is a beautiful sunset; beautiful setting sun and not one yacht in this bay,” Edwards lamented during the interview with iWitness News last Saturday, two days after the attack.
“If we do this to them, them we are entitled to enjoy this by ourselves. Forget their economic assistance, which is what they come to give us. Economic assistance to build our home, to build our community, to build our country. If we will kill them for doing that, then, by God, they have every right to say adios, adieu, auf wiedersehen (“Goodbye” in German), and ‘I am not coming back’,” Edwards said.
Police say they are investigating the murder of 49-year-old German accountant Martin Griff, which occurred at Wallilabou Bay during the pre-dawn hours of Friday.
Reports are that the deceased was on a yacht when unknown assailants attacked him. He sustained a gunshot wound to his throat and succumbed to the injuries, police said.
Police are also investigating the attempted murder of Reinhold Zeller, a 63-year-old sea captain, also of Germany, which occurred during the same incident at Wallilabou Bay.
Zeller sustained a gunshot wound to his left shoulder after unknown assailants attacked him on the yacht, police say.
Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Ralph Gonsalves expressed revulsion at the crime and said the Coast Guard responded within 20 minutes.
He said that the Coast Guard cannot everywhere at the same time.
But Edwards said that the Coast Guard has at times proven to be the weakest link in protecting the yachting sector.
“Hell yes,” he said when asked if the thinks that the incident could have been prevented.
“We’ve been burglarised so many times,” he said, adding that persons went aboard a yacht some time recently and reportedly stole cash and electronics said to amount to 5,000 euros.
He that on one occasion, a yacht was burglarised and the captain came to his place to seek help.
While the occupants of the yacht were ashore trying to reach the police and Coast Guard, the burglars went onto the yacht a second time and took what they did not steal during the first break-in, Edwards told iWitness News.
“These people do it all the time because they know that the tourists are not going to stay. They are gone in 24 hours — some of them, in a few hours,” he said.
Edwards was critical of the Coast Guard’s tactics, saying it is easy to distinguish Coast Guard vessels, regardless of the direction from which they approach the beach.
He suggested that the Coast Guard use dinghies to patrol anchorages.
“You wouldn’t realise who it is until they are right on you; you wouldn’t realise it is police,” he said.
Edwards had made repeated calls to radio stations asking authorities to address the security issues at Wallilabou Bay.
And while three streetlights have been installed on the beach — which he said has helped — Edwards said that has not been enough to deter yacht burglars.
Asked if he is also concerned about his own safety, Edward said yes, adding that he takes steps to protect himself.
These include a Molotov cocktail and lighter that he keeps nearby after dark, which was placed, along with a machete, on the table during the interview.
“This bay, we destroy it; we terrorise guests down here a lot,” he said.
He told iWitness News that a few weeks ago, someone photographed a scene in which nine boat boys were harassing a yacht that was just docking.
There were mixed reviews among the most recent posts on Wallilabou Bay on the travel website TripAdvisor.
The most recent post when iWitness News visited the website Thursday morning was from a trip in February, in which Martyn R of Oxford, United Kingdom said the bay is “simply fantastic with a small number of yachts on their moorings while the tide gently breaks on the shore.
“To say that it is idyllic would be an understatement; after a couple of drinks it was hard to motivate ourselves to leave. Whether you love the film or not, this place is well worth a visit for the scenery, the photographs of the film and the memorabilia. Great experience!” Martyn R said in the post.
The post was made on Monday but made no reference to the attack the yachties last week, which has been widely reported in the international media.
The Caribbean Safety and Security Net’s (CSSN), a website dedicated to collecting and disseminating accurate information relating to crimes against yachts in the Caribbean, said in its 2015 report, that SVG was among four countries accounted for slightly more than 50 per cent of the reports.
The others were St. Lucia, Honduras and St. Martin.
But twice as many crimes against yacht in SVG were reported as in St. Lucia.
In 2015, there were 18 reported cases in SVG, 9 in St. Lucia, six in Honduras, and 6 in St. Martin, according to CSSN statistics.
Gonsalves said Friday that he has spoken to the Commissioner of Police “to strengthen certain security arrangements which we have in place in certain areas and to extend even further in other areas…”
iWitness News understands that police have questioned at least four persons in connection with the murder of the sailor last week.
Head of the Criminal Investigations Department, Superintendent of Police Ruth Jacobs told iWitness News on Thursday that no one had been charged with the crime and that the police did not have anyone in custody “at this time”.
What unsettles me is not that there is an element of crime in this sector and at Wallilabou (I am not endorsing the burglaries; neither am I attempting to minimize or excuse their horror and impact) but that the victims of crime seem to settle easily on a “no-salvage” approach towards investigation of the crimes. This news report featuring an interview with Mr. Edwards is not the only report of despair among victims. Some speak publicly like Mr. Edwards has spoken; others are of quiet and decisive resolve.
To say the there were “mixed reviews” on TripAdvisor is an understatement. Here are some very typical comments:
“There is nothing here except a couple of vendors trying to sell you junk made in China for way over priced US dollars; the museum has nothing in it; yes they did film some of the pirates of the Caribbean here but there is nothing left, no displays, no props; there is a restaurant which was closed that had a pirate theme and the cove is somewhat picturesque but that is it; nothing much here…”
“Worth stopping by for 10 min, but that’s about it. Its pretty rundown. Another couple snorkeled there, which I heard was amazing but as far as making an excursion out of it, don’t expect something great here.”
“We stopped here on our way to Dark view falls. It didn’t cost anything to get in. The reason for this became apparent when we saw it. It hasn’t been looked after since the film crews departed. I bought some pencils from the scant gift shop, because I felt guilty about not paying.”
Overall, the site got a rating of “3” which translates into average. Of the 79 reviewers, 21 said the site was “average,” 11 said it was “poor,” and 13 said it was “terrible.”
My personal rating, based on extensive Caribbean and North American tourist travel is 1.5.
The total blame for this lies with various governments of SVG that had complete control of the treasury going back to the Cato regime.
Shame on us as a country.
The coast guards are a bunch of losers! Who could forget the incident at Rock Gutter (or whatever that place is called), where those school kids lost their lives. Then again a boat that was on fire close to Layou; where it took the coast guards more that ½ hour before they arrived at the scene.
Ralphs lame duck excuse that the coast guard cannot be everywhere at the same time shows he has no solution to the problem. Yet he spoke about the benefits derived from these yachts; which is the same thing Shadow is saying.
It doesnt need to coast guards to be everywhere to help stem the tide of robbery. What is needed is proper monitoring of the areas where these yachts are anchored. What is so hard about that? A sea doo is much cheaper and more accurate vehicle to monitor and integrate in a proper security scheme. Two or three of these vehicles can operate 24/7 to keep these people on yachts safe. Cameras are another resource to help monitor the areas; along with powerful flood lights. These cameras can be monitored 24/7 365 from the Kingstown police station.
These are just a few ideas that can help to make the visitors safe. It is also up to Shadow to use cameras and flood lights to protect his business and life. I keep stressing the idea of using cameras in SVG, but all I come up against are excuses. SVG is a land of excuses and that can also be a label to hang around the neck of this government.
There is a picture on a hill close to the area where lights and cameras can be installed. These night lights can flood the area so that everything and anything can be observed.
St Lucia may have more than twice the visits as SVG, but SVG has twice the crime!
If we did not have the Grenadines and especially the Tobago Cays we would lose 80% of our yacht visits. Someone needs to inform our government that if we want the rewards we actually have to earn them and not expect to just sit back and rake in money, money, money!
The ignorance, inefficiency and mismanagement of the SVG government is just amazing
You didn’t get much from Hollywood. The owner did well. People still talk about it. Everything was done in cash. I’ve met four people who claimed they were in charge of security. Hollywood could have helped more. There’s really not much there. The bay is quite spectacular. Outside of Holywood, it’s a nice place to drop anchor. Start killing people who drop anchor there, and you’ll never see anyone dropping anchor there again, and for what? How cheap is a tourist life? A couple of hundred EC, a laptop…. They’re not stealing the boat worth millions, they’re killing people for $50EC.
Every window in St Vincent has burglar bars. Virtually every property is protected by dogs. Big dogs, that would chew you to pieces. I come here two months of the year. I love this island. I’m not a rich man. Living here is pretty cheap. Food doesn’t cost much. The buses don’t cost much. You start killing German tourists, and that fact will travel the world. People won’t come here. I have pepper spray, mostly for dogs attacking me, but also for Vincentians trying to rob me. It blinds you for 20 minutes. You have to be careful trying to rob or rape a tourist. They have weapons you are unfamiliar with.
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