Sir Peter Blake, one of the greatest sailors of recent times, killed by pirates in the Amazon.
December 6, 2001 9:58 AM   Subscribe

Sir Peter Blake, one of the greatest sailors of recent times, killed by pirates in the Amazon. This is shocking news to the sailing community.
posted by msacheson (15 comments total)
His expedition in the Amazon was to raise awareness of the threatened environs there. His efforts included a website with a daily journal. His last entry was this morning.

"We always hope for a clear night, and tonight the moon will be up soon after 9pm-- but this means two and a half hours of real blackness before then."
posted by ewagoner at 10:09 AM on December 6, 2001

ewagoner, thanks for the link. That increases my appreciation for the man and a life well lived.

It's now picked up by the New Zealand Herald, mostly from the same Associated Press story as above.
posted by msacheson at 10:27 AM on December 6, 2001

Murdered by pirates is... very bad.

(Yes, I'm probably being horribly insensitive, but I couldn't help but think of the quote.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:37 AM on December 6, 2001

My day is ruined.
posted by holloway at 10:58 AM on December 6, 2001

This shocking crime is not unusual, it appears. Sea Wolves Feasting:
"Piracy in Brazil's Atlantic ports is on the upswing. Ships anchored off the ports of Salvador, Rio de Janeiro and Santos are the most common victims, but ships plying the Amazon river and its tributaries are now being attacked. Local authorities have neither the means nor, apparently, the desire to do much about this trend...While the pirates in modern speed boats are armed with Uzis, state-of-the-art radios and infra-red night equipment, the police-chugging along in old boats and without modern communication equipment-simply can't keep up."
posted by Carol Anne at 11:56 AM on December 6, 2001

Hmm.. you know, when I first read that post.. I kinda read it pirated. Hmm.. that is sad. and very scary I imagine. Pirates aren't thought of as very dangerous anymore, because, well sailing isn't as inspiring to most people as it once was. But they are. Modern Pirates have speed boates, come in packs with semi-automatic machine guns and shoulder mounted granade launchers wearing ski masks. If they don't kill you on the spot, they leave you out do die in water. But they usually kill as to protect their identities. Brazil is particualarly dangerous, as it really has no coastal police, no boats or anything. With as many people sailing it, it was only logical that these pirates would spring up. And recently they have been spotten in Europe, U.K. and Greece as well as some parts of the U.S. (california and florida). Florida has a lot of Marine Patrol, from my own boating experience however these guys are sort of annoying and incompetent, they let speed boats roar at unbelievable speeds in the manatee zone and then give me a ticket for parking the boat by the condo.
posted by tiaka at 11:56 AM on December 6, 2001

I am sickened.
Sir Peter Blake worked with the United Nations Environment Program and last year the Seamaster sailed to Antarctica. There are excerpts from the ship's log here.
posted by culberjo at 12:00 PM on December 6, 2001

I'm just shocked that nobody has bothered to explore the root causes of the piracy...
posted by revbrian at 12:02 PM on December 6, 2001

This has sent shockwaves through New Zealand, Sir Peter Blake was one of our greatest sporting heros.

The NZ Herald has an obituary also reaction from his former Team NZ crewmates

Currently Sir Peter's mother is being interviewed by Kim Hill on Radio Pacific - a recording will be available later today from XtraMSN
posted by sycophant at 12:24 PM on December 6, 2001

I live in Brazil and the news of his murder are splashed everywhere. The local news (from Amap√°), claims the group that attacked him is called "Water Rats". A wristwatch and an outboard engine were the only items taken.

So far, there are no reports detailing exactly what happened. In a recent interview ( sorry, portuguese only, Peter was asked about security concerns on this trip.

His reply:
"We are well aware of the situation and we are preparing ourselves very well. We are talking to the right people and trying to guarantee our safety. If the worst happens, we will offer strong resistance against attacks. We have a big crew, with over twenty people, and will have guards as well" -freestyle translation

I am not sure there was a reaction on his part, but anyone who has been to the region knows a vessel as equipped as his would attract enormous attention.

A very sad moment for adventurers. Like in Ned Gillette's story, there is something to be learned here.

As for pirates, the situation in the Phillipines is much worse.

I believe if the material goods requested were given without any resistance, no lives would have been lost, but i am only guessing here.

A sad and embarassing day for Brazil.
posted by ig at 12:59 PM on December 6, 2001

"I believe if the material goods requested were given without any resistance, no lives would have been lost, but i am only guessing here."

ig, Blake was shot as soon as he emerged on deck.
Another crewmember recieved a bullet wound in the back.
Why would you want to assume that thieves would behave decently?

Minute's silence in NZ Parliament today.
posted by Catch at 5:09 PM on December 6, 2001


maybe you are right. I don't think one can expect thieves to behave decently at all, but the odds of surviving the attack would be greater if there had been no reaction.

According to this source (sorry, portuguese again)

Peter was the first to react and used a .308 caliber rifle. Allegedly an assailant was shot in the hand.

The stolen goods listed include his weapon, watches (given by his main sponsor) , cameras+lenses, and an outboard engine.

I think for someone of his stature, with his experience, and big sponsorship, the material loss could be recovered, but not his life.

Typically the assailants have surprise on their side, plus local knowledge, which makes the odds of succesful resistance against him.

Very sad.

Perhaps your source is more reliable than the local news here, but that's the information we have so far.

I have been in similar situations before (notoriously dangerous area, loaded with expensive gear, highly visible), and would advise against any resistance.

It's simply not worth dying over material possessions.
posted by ig at 5:34 PM on December 6, 2001

Nzoom have more
posted by holloway at 6:50 PM on December 6, 2001

Seven men have been arrested in connection with the murder (NY Times link).
posted by liam at 7:35 AM on December 7, 2001

Seven Arrested for Killing Sailor (AP) "'The suspects claimed they fired in self-defense. They said they didn't know anyone famous was aboard and they weren't expecting any resistance,'' said Federal Police agent Jose Araujo, speaking by phone from Macapa, in Amapa state 1,800 miles northwest of Rio de Janeiro."
posted by Carol Anne at 2:56 PM on December 7, 2001

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