Chased by pirates? Cutting the snake’s head off.
We didn’t know it. We were the snake and they were going to cut off our heads.
Faith and I were crossing the Indian Ocean on our thirty four year old sailing boat.
Senta had been in such neglected condition when we bought her that it took us a year to fix her up. A thousand hours of work for Faith and a thousand hours work for me.
We didn’t have the money to do all this and had to sell our house to
cover expenses. So now, all we had was the boat. Oh, and two old
bicycles which we carry aboard.
Crossing the Indian Ocean under sail takes us seven weeks. That’s day and night, 24 x 7. Just the two of us on board, swapping watches every three hours. Tiring. We have crossed three times.
To give ourselves a chance at a full night’s sleep, we stop at
Madagascar, Mayotte, Zanzibar, Tanzania and Chagos. Then it’s the
final 1,700 miles to Thailand or Malaysia.
It was on this leg that an enormous Taiwanese deep-sea trawler ran us down.
We had crossed the equator, double reefed and sailing like crazy in the south-west monsoon.
‘There’s a boat following us,’ Faith pointed out.
Way behind us, on our port quarter, a speck on the horizon was getting bigger. I checked his course.
‘I see what you mean. He’s not travelling parallel to our course, but
aimed straight at us.’
‘Maybe he’s crossing our wake and will pass behind us.’
We watched while the speck morphed into an enormous trawler, a hundred times our size and running us down fast.
‘He’s not going behind us,’ Faith warned. ‘If he doesn’t change course, he’ll hit us.’
Sailing at only a third the trawler’s speed, we couldn’t get out of his way and the vessel bore down us. By this time, his crew were on deck gazing at us. About fifteen men. We were only husband and wife.
Towering over us, the trawler came down our port side and as he passed, he swung across our bow, cutting us off. To avoid a collision, we turned with him. I called him all sorts of names you don’t want to know about. The crew just stared at us.
We missed him. But by now he had executed a hairpin bend around our bow and was headed back up our starboard side on a reciprocal course to where he came from in the first place. Strange. Never mind dangerous.
The incident shook us and we couldn’t explain his insane action.
‘That’s called, Cutting The Head Off The Snake,’ someone told us when we anchored off Langkawi Island in Malaysia. ‘These fishermen are superstitious, and when they don’t catch anything, they put it down to bad luck.’
‘Really?’ We queried.
‘It’s true. So they try and pass their bad luck onto you by cutting you off at sea. They do it all the time.’
‘We thought they may have been pirates,’ we replied.