Alaska boat gets hijacked by Brazilian pirates
It's a rare but true event that this guy actually survived. I gave this guy a Legend to support his Amazon trip a year or more ago. Here's his email to me today, thought you'd all like to see where and how people are using Alaska boats!
Hey Larry,Hope you're well. I'm back in the states and have some mixed news to report - I'm back safely, but fairly deep into Brazil I was attacked by pirates who pretty much stole everything and stranded me. I jumped in the water as they shot at me and swam away. After a few days in a small village, I got back to a town and eventually to Manaus, where I flew home.
Unfortunately, they stole all of my photos and videos and the Legend. I've been trying to make contacts to publish some articles about my trip and about the attack, but it's difficult without photos and video. I'll continue trying though and of course give you all the credit that I can for supporting my expedition.
I do have some low image quality photos that I uploaded to social media while I was down there, and a number of them include the Legend. I'd love to write a trip report for your website and include any photos that I do have.
And seriously, thank you again for supporting my trip. The boat was great, and the support really meant a lot to me as well.
Here's the email that I sent home after the attack:
I decided to take a 300km detour on a small river that the navy and national police said was safer than the amazon (which is a known dangerous part of the amazon). I talked to some people in communities at the mouth and they said it was safe, so I went for it. First day was cool - no problems. Second day I spent the whole day up another small river, fishing and hiking in the jungle. Saw some really nice birds and big caimen.
That night I went to a community, bought some gas, and tied up to a floating house to spend the night. some guys came by and told me that there are pirates at the mouth of the river - this is basically a daily occurance and I basically combat it by leaving very early, being vigilant, and ready to ****ing run like hell if pirates show up and come after me. Then they say that 6 pirates attacked that community 3 nights earlier. That was something I hadn't heard before - an actual, verifiable incident.
That night I heard the person in the floating house lock the door from the inside, and noticed people up on the hill scanning the water with flashlights. they were scared. so, i got out of the boat and scouted how i would get out of there if anything happened. i also decided that i couldnt sleep. so, when i heard an outboard motor at 11 pm, i was pretty sure that it was a problem. they scanned a bright light at my boat and then slowly passed by and scanned all of the boats along the water. i got out of my hammock and watched. they turned around and slowly came back and the light settled on my boat. they slowed to a stop about 30 meters off my stern, with thier light fixed on my boat. because of where they were, i couldnt see them directly, so i listened. it's interesting, but i actually couldn't hear them get closer - doppler effect, i guess. The first thing I saw was the midsection of 4-6 guys with shotguns pointed at the boat. They were screaming, but i couldnt understand what they were saying - angry portuguese is unlike spanish. i was out of the boat and running before they could slow down, but behind me I could hear them firing into the boat and then something whizzing by me as they shot at me. they never had a shot though because i got out and into the darkness before they slowed down (try shooting from a quickly moving boat) and rounded a corner after 1 step into complete darkness. I sprinted forward and then pitched forward off the edge of the "balsa" (floating house), onto a log, and into the river. i immediately took a deep breath and dove swam under a big log to take shelter under another floating house. i came up for air and then swam under another - in the center of the house. at some point someone fired into the water. i could hear people running around above and yelling in portuguese and occassionally firing a gun (maybe into the air?).
things seemed to die down, but i couldn't be sure, so i stayed under there for a pretty long time. fish kept biting me, which was unpleasant. someone would occassionally shine a light under the balsa, but i would hide, not knowing who it was. i remember thinking that they will be really relieved to know i am alive - after all, they fired at me and then i dissapeared into the water. they must think im dead. eventually, i came out and was ushered up the hill to the community where there were about 20 people. it was dark and i couldn't see their faces but could make out outlines and lots of them had shotguns. they were really worked up, and through my broken understanding of portuguese i began to realize that they were saying that this was my fault, and that someone from the community was dead. i didn't like having some of them behind me with the shotguns and tried to keep to the outside of the group. eventually i interjected - this is a terrible thing but it is because of the pirates being bad people, not because of me. besides, the pirates were here 3 nights ago, so i didn't bring them here. they didn't really respond to me, but kept on in the same way among themselves.
eventually, someone invited me to go back to his house to sleep. when we got there, he asked me in a confidential tone if i had any drugs. i told him no, im an american tourist. he turned on his generator and as the lights came on about 20 men from the community came in. in short order they accused me of being responsible and i started to realize that they thought i was a peruvian or colombian drug smuggler because i was speaking spanish and apparently this is a common drug smuggling route. because they only spoke portuguese and not spanish, and i was speaking spanish to communicate (they can generally understand), they thought that my spanish was perfect. to a native spanish speaker, im clearly a foreigner, but to them it sounded the same as any colombian. i explained to them that i am an american and definitely not a drug smuggler and that i am here to see the jungle. when they realized this was true, smiles broke out and from there on they protected me. i also found out much to my relief that in fact no one had been hurt. the pirates came back later that night and fired into the air. i stood on the dark and listened. the community stood on the top of the hill with as many men and guns as they had.
in the morning, i went down to the boat and they had taken basically everything. they had actually missed my credit card and had left my passport on top of the rubble, open and face up. thanks pirates! everything else was gone. because the communications equipment was gone, i had no way to communicate with anyone in the outside world. they told me that the next boat to coari was on sunday, so i waited a few days and then took a 24 hour boat to coari.
tomorrow i need to go speak with the police and the navy to try and get some help for the community. the pirates drove by another night and fired into the air, and the kids cry and people are generally terrorized. they are good people. i went to church with them and they prayed for me to be protected on my trip and that they be protected from violence and that people can sleep again. i really hope that the police or navy will respond.
im going to head to manaus as soon as i finish here and hopefully fly home very soon after. it was a pretty intense few days, and im happy to be in coari.