Ferdinand Magellan and me (11) :Pirates

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Pirates in the Malacca Strait

Cruising yachts are like a travelling village and you often find familiar faces in ports all over the world. It’s nice to sail into a foreign port and encounter old friends who can fill you in on where to do the shopping, how to find a good mechanic, which bureaucrats need bribing and other vital matters. At Ong’s marina in Singapore expat sailors swapped yarns over barbecues. Here we met James, who had sailed with us in the Ambon race. He also had a female crew, although of a different moral persuasion than Robin. James had celebrated his birthday in Ambon and his gift from his crew was a short time with one of the whores at the Halong brothel. Apparently, she was trying to divert attention away from herself.

It’s true that piracy is a problem in the Malacca Strait. They even attack big ships and the previous year a cruising yacht had been boarded, the wife raped and the husband badly wounded. Whether cruising yachts should arm themselves was a frequent debate. Some; especially the Americans among us, claimed they could scare off pirates with a sufficient show of force. Others, including myself, believed the complication of a firearm on board outweighed the fairly low probability of meeting pirates on the high seas.

James was obsessed with pirates and he scoured Singapore in search of the equipment needed for his ultimate weapon. The marina had a dedicated barbecue space on the waterfront and on the occasion of someone’s birthday we gathered to celebrate. James proudly displayed his creation. Through piping and tubing and a specially manufactured venturi tube, he had rigged up his scuba-diving tanks to the fuel tank of his outboard motor. He created a flame thrower; a weapon that sidestepped the problems associated with carrying firearms aboard a yacht.

“Those bastards come anywhere near me and they’ll end up grilled chops,” he said.

To demonstrate his point, he opened the valve on the scuba tank, struck a match to fire up the flame thrower and turned it on the chops quietly grilling away on the barbecue plate. They were blasted off into the dirt.

“Oh shit, sorry,” James said.

The chops tasted not only of dirt but also of petrol and James’s demonstration strengthened the anti-firearm lobby.

As for me, I had my own anti-pirate measure in mind.

Next: the Ultimate defence against piracy.


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Sailor from wayback with a Master's degree in Technology Management. Prefer classical music to rap and chicken curry to steak.

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