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The long walk to freedom…

Week 2 has passed and at last I can speak out. The ransom has been paid, the Diplomatic gag has been lifted and I can reveal the horrors of my ordeal at the hands of a little known pirate band called the Se’Alin E’clubbèrs.

Pirates OTC

It was a warm balmy day as I ghosted into what I thought was the safe haven of Ocean Village – what a fool was I. Far from being a quiet deserted anchorage, as I gingerly took soundings and edged into a mooring, my lines were grabbed by some rough looking sorts and I was taken captive, pressed into service and completely at the mercy of this notorious gang of pirates.

In order to avoid detection by the authorities, the gang fired up their powerful motorised getaway boats, and  immediately left for the dangerous cross Channel route to Deauville on the Brittany coast of France. Beaten and starved I was forced to navigate the ship “Essanor”, on which I was held captive,  through the TSS.

The crafty gang took measures to avoid detection by the commercial traffic that frequents these parts. Showing no scruples they used my boat name “Enterprise” as their call sign to disguise their VHF transmissions, instead of using their real boat names “Jasbo”, “Essanor” and their flag ship “The Clueless”. At one tantalising point I suffered the crushing disappointment of almost being saved, when a passing Maersk container vessel detected the ship I was on and hailed us. Alas, as I  attempted to return their call on the VHF, the handset was rudely grabbed from my hands and the opportunity lost.

Once in France, it became apparent that the gang could not speak the language and I was forced to translate at pain of death from French to their strange Spanish dialect called “Volvoese”. In this way the gang could stock up with their staple diet of beer, wine, whisky and…. whiskey.

Each day was the same. I was subjected to the most cruel abuse – a sort of mental water boarding. They hurled insults at me for being a “yachty” laughing in my face and forcing me to make a note of every sailor I saw in any type of wind powered vessel – for to use the wind alone for power is considered a  heinous crime in their religion. They seemed to take enormous offence at the sight of any “yachty” not wearing a life jacket. The sight of a French man pissing into the marina from the end of his boat; ladies underwear hanging up to dry from a mast; or a nude helmsman was just a matter for hilarity – but the sight of a “yachty” without a life jacket would elicit howls of derision and further abuse directed at me. Eventually I was shaking in fear at the slightest chance of spying any yacht drawing nigh.

In the morning, I was allowed only one hour alone in order to wash and treat the mental bruises and cuts from the previous evenings beatings. As time went by and after many hours force feeding of alcohol and seafood, I started to hallucinate and develop the first signs of Stockholm Syndrome.

By the third day I found myself reading a copy of their religious text “Motor Boat Monthly” which had been slyly left in my quarters. I shudder now to think that I could really have done that. Its strange what one can be forced to do in extreme situations.

Finally, having used up all their supplies of whisky (ey) and diesel, the gang returned to their favourite port of Ocean Village and dumped me back on my yacht. I must have made some good impression through good behaviour and reading of their religious texts, because they decided to set my boat free and let me drift up the River Itchen to Ocean Quay, while they slipped away to spend their bounty.

Time to recover mentally and physically – I am assured that my liver will make a full recovery on a diet of water and tea. But just like the Chandlers, I will not let this terrible experience stop me sailing. At the first opportunity I hope to set sail again – but beware Ocean Village – there be monsters there!

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3 comments to The long walk to freedom…

  • gary jones

    What Terry Waite meant to the C of E you mean to all of us who still shudder at the memories of SGS.An inspiration and hero.Beaten but unbroken,your spirit has inspired me to have another large scotch.

  • philip ient

    Lovely stuff Russ – but I guess working with the Humphmeister must in some way have prepared you for this ordeal?

  • Sue

    What a terrible ordeal Russ. They look a gruesome lot – especially the ones on the coach! Glad you managed to get out relatively unscathed.

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