The attack took place last week on the edge of the Gulf of Cádiz off the south-west coast of Spain. Peter Fricke and his wife had started in the morning in a catamaran of the type Lagoon 42 "Marianne" from an anchorage near the Portuguese port city of Faro and had set course for the Strait of Gibraltar; the two are currently on a transfer voyage from France to Croatia.
Already in the early morning the skipper noticed a highly motorized rib that drove through the anchor field. Apparently to spy on a later victim, as Fricke now suspects. When he and his wife lifted anchor shortly afterwards to continue their voyage towards the Mediterranean, after a while they noticed two ribs that had followed them.
Men masked with balaclavas in highly motorized ribs
The position of the "Marianne" at the time of the pirate attack
When the two of them left the coastal area with the “Marianne” around noon to instead sail across the Gulf of Cádiz, one of the two ribs quickly came up from the aft, reports Peter Fricke to the YACHT editorial team. And further: “After a while we could see that the men in the rib were wearing balaclavas. When they continued to approach us at an undiminished pace, it was clear that they wanted to attack us."
It was lucky for the German sailors that at the time of the attack they were motoring under a machine against the wind and a wave about two meters high. "This went hand in hand with corresponding ship movements, which made it difficult for the pirates to catch up to one of our stern in order to be able to climb over," says Fricke. However, several times he still had to squeeze the rib with the boat hook.
His wife had meanwhile made an emergency call viUKW, which was immediately forwarded to the Spanish coast guard by a tanker in the vicinity. They sent a coast guard helicopter. "He was there ten minutes later and immediately went down on the attackers," reports Fricke. They then fled to the African coast.
“We can only be glad that the pirates didn't have any weapons with them, at least we didn't see any. Otherwise the story could have turned out very differently,”says Fricke, relieved in retrospect. He is full of praise for the efforts of the Spanish coast guard, which reacted so promptly. As for the captains of two tankers who would have offered their help. “If necessary, they wanted to slide between us and the attackers,” says Fricke. But that was no longer necessary.
Spanish Coast Guard takes incident very seriously
In Cádiz, where the German sailors gave their testimony to the Spanish police, they later had the feeling that the authorities were taking the incident very seriously. In addition to gangs of smugglers who try to bring migrants from Africa to the Spanish south coast, the sea area is also a hotspot for international drug smuggling. The officials assumed that the men who attacked the "Marianne" could be assigned to this criminal milieu.
Peter Fricke later heard from fellow sailors that they had noticed the ribs "patrolling" in the anchor fields and equipped with powerful outboards in the same place between the Faro and Olhão islands in the previous year. Fricke advises other sailors not to stray too far from the Portuguese and Spanish coasts in the sea area and, in particular, not to shorten the route by sailing across the Gulf of Cádiz like him and his wife.
Liobund Peter Fricke have meanwhile crossed the Strait of Gibraltar unscathed and are currently continuing their way to Croatia.