Murder in St. Martin


Active member
3 Jun 2006
South East Coast - United Kingdom
Info from Latitude 38:

February 28, 2011 – Netherlands Antilles

A pall has been cast over this weekend's Heineken Regatta in St. Martin, one of the great sailing regattas in the world, as the result of the weekend murder of a 37-year-old French causcasian cook from the megayacht Cheetah Moon. The cook was found "seriously injured" on the ground near Mullet Bay, one of the nicer places on the island. In St. Martin, "seriously injured" means he'd been stabbed, had his teeth extracted, his eyes gouged out, his nipples cut off, and been set on fire. He was flown to Martinique for more sophisticated treatment, but died from his horrific injuries.

St. Martin is a huge base to yachts and many megayachts. As a result of the murder of Cheetah Moon's cook, the St. Maarten Marine Trades Association expressed outrage at the increase in crimes against members of the marine community. Association Treasurer Lorraine Talmi told the local paper, "This is not the first time nor, do I fear, will it be the last. In fact, this is the second time in a week that a crew member was abducted from the Simpson Bay area. The first one managed to escape, and perhaps that is why, if it is the same gang, the second one wasn't nearly as lucky."

Readers may remember that solo circumnavigator Mike Harker of the Manhattan Beach-based Hunter 49 Wanderlust 3 was severely beaten on his boat on the hook in St. Martin's Simpson Bay.

We don't know if it's still there, but the Customs and Immigration Office in St. Maarten used to have a poster warning captains and crews of the dangers of gangs of male youths on the island.

We go to St. Martin on a regular basis, and we'll probably be going there for this weekend's Heineken Regatta. But when we're on the island, we remain acutely aware of our surroundings and the circumstances. As a rule, we don't go anywhere alone after dark. We stick to the more crowded areas, and feel safest on the hook or on the beach.

The shame of it all is that St. Martin, which is half French and half Dutch, is spectacularly beautiful, with great bays, a huge lagoon, lots of beaches, and some wonderful people. In fact, it's one of the most naturally beautiful islands in all of the Caribbean. But once again, it's an island where a small minority of residents, invariably young males, are destroying the reputation and economic opportunities for everyone else. Remarkably, the island has withstood the global recession better than most, and building continues relentlessly.

If we were asked to rate the danger to the personal safety of mariners in the Caribbean, with 10 at the high end of the scale, we'd put it at about 7.5. And St. Martin, in particular, even higher. On the other hand, we'd put Mexico at about 1.5. One of the reasons is that mariners are specifically targeted in the Caribbean, whereas they aren't in Mexico, because narco trafickers are only interested in killing one another, and except for Acapulco, not on the coast.

We don't want to frighten people away from chartering in or cruising to St. Martin, but if you go there, it's our opinion that you need to be on guard at all times, and best in a group.

- latitude / rs