Primetime television shows and action movies have left me with the impression that it is not really safe to travel far from shore in sailboats and yachts, because of modern-day pirates that will board the boat and, best case scenario, steal stuff including the boat itself, worst case scenario kill everyone aboard and then steal the boat.
Is it true? Are some waters safer than others?
Googling “yacht piracy” produces many useful links, including yachtpiracy.org
In a year of perusing questions on SDMB, you won’t find a surer bet than answering Yes to this one.
Yes, it can be true. Piracy is more common today than ever before. Some waters, such as the west coast of Africa, Malacca Straits and South China Sea can be extremely dangerous to small private boats and large merchant ships alike.
The good news is that piracy is pretty much confined to several well known hot spots, and is not rampant in every part of the world. The Caribbean, for example, sees very little piracy these days compared to days yore.
Some good info on modern piracy can be found in this book: Dangerous Waters by John S. Burnett
Also: IMB Piracy Center in Kuala Lumpur.
Piracy and armed robbery maps for 2004.
Obviously, not all attacks and incidents are reported and tracked, but this gives an idea of what areas are hot spots.
Of course, if you are carrying software or recorded music, the chance of piracy is greater.