Blogs by Ann Massey
Nothing's so much fun as simply messing about in boats but ...
3/4/2011 4:49:53 PM
A green ex-pat reminisces about life in Miri
In a few hours, my son, Duncan and his partner, Jaine will be arriving home after taking delivery of a yacht and sailing it from Surfer's Paradise to Fremantle with minimal knowledge of seafaring and things nautical. From the sound of it the journey was uneventful which is a bad thing in a way because we learn more from a damn good scare than from parental warnings. And, I have to admit that I'm no shining example.
It's been some time since some friends and I set sail from Labuan, a small island off the coast of Borneo for a few hours fishing in the South China Sea. It was a perfect day. The sky was cloudless, the azure sea was smooth and sparkling and there's nothing, absolutely nothing better than flying through the foam with a wave creaming the ledge of the boat.
We dropped the sea anchor about thirty kilometres west of the island and that's when we remembered that we'd forgotten to bring any bait. It looked like we'd have to forget about fishing but then we spotted another vessel. My partner took off his shirt and waved it madly and the smack changed directions.
Soon the ramshackle, leaky old craft was bobbing up and down alongside. None of us could speak Bahasa and so we used gestures and mime to explain that we wanted to buy a fish. The twenty ringgit identified us as wealthy tourists ripe for the taking and within minutes the single solitary fishing boat had swelled to a mini armada.
A month before a group of pirates had killed a fisherman and taken his boat. But we knew nothing of that, the authorities had a policy of suppressing information about the explosion of piracy and we had no idea that we were courting danger.
Unlike the the four American tourists on a world tour who were hijacked and killed by pirates in the Indian Sea in February, we came out of the incident poorer but unscathed. However, I now realize that we were lucky not to have been taken hostage. The large sums paid out in ransom money is encouraging more and more poor Filipino and Indonesians to exchange their fishing nets for AK-47's, RPG's and semi-automatic pistols with the result that two ships a week are being hijacked.
So while there's nothing absolutely nothing better than messing about in boats ... perhaps it's wiser to stay at home!
You can read about tourists who weren't as lucky as me in my latest thriller, The White Amah.
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