Pirates - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Monday, May 22, 2006

Pirates

When we think of pirates, we think of Blackbeard, Henry Morgan, or Captain Kidd, but pirates don't just exist in history books or as swashbuckling characters in novels and films. They are a fact of modern life and they are targeting boaters off of our shores.

Bob Terwilliger owns a 68-foot yacht named "My Melody". It has all the bells and whistles. It also had an edgewater boat tied alongside at Walker 's Key marina in the Bahamas.

Bob Terwilliger: “And it was sometime around 4 in the morning and pirates stole the 27-foot Edgewater and we were sleeping on this boat and so they were literally about 4 feet away from us when they stole it.”

Bob chartered a plane and spent three days searching the small islands of the Bahamas. He finally spotted his boat in a clump of mangroves on a small island about 125 miles from Walker 's Key.

Bob: “So we landed and we got the boat back and we had fingerprints and all the information the police could use.”

The pirates, drug-smugglers in this case, were nabbed and are spending ten years in a Bahamian prison.

Jim Trindade's family does not have that closure. This is home video of Jim as he left the Bahamas on January 12th. It's the last time anyone saw the 53- year-old Atlantis man again.

Marge Johns: “Extremely experienced. Always in the bahamas. A diver and a fisherman.”

The Coast Guard found Trindade's new 38-foot boat off the St. Lucie Inlet, circling with two of its three engines idling.

Russ Morley: "He knew every current, he knew every sandbar, he knew every buoy, and if there was a way to survive he would find it."

But now, four months later, still no answer to the question: what happened? The Coast Guard tells Fox 29 it hasn't come across any pirate activity in years--so many years it can't even say how long it's been, but that may just be a matter of semantics.

Bob: "They're essentially doing the same thing that Blackbeard, Calico Jack and Mary Reed, and Ann Bonnie were doing 300 years ago."

Those pirates also operated out of the Bahamas, and Bob says modern-day piracy is a big problem.

Bob:  "The four guys were drug smugglers and the police estimate they were stealing 150-200 boats a year, and primarily for their engines.

Jim Trinade's friends told me they now suspect Jim's boat was pirated by human smugglers who brought a load of illegal immigrants to South Florida . They say that evidence of vomit was found in 3 separate areas of his boat, that two 250-pound coolers of meat and shrimp were missing and the boat's GPS system had been erased. Several of Jim Trindade's friends also told stories of close- calls with pirates trying to board their boats.

If you'd like more information about Jim Trindade's disappearance go to
www.helpjimmy.org  Bob Terwilliger has written a book based loosely on his run-in with pirates called Betrayed.
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