Adventures of s/v WILD HAIR


Our land life took on form, solidity, routine. We had mastery of a limited set of skills. We had habitual expectations of others and ourselves. Going sailing, we let go of our attachments to our roles, views, and rituals. We persist because we are growing in this shapeless and dynamic world.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Pirates of St Vincent

One day we were stalked by “pirates.”

St Vincent has a reputation among sailors as the island to miss. Violent crime and boat theft are common. The police are part of the problem; if you are boarded or robbed, don’t expect justice. Nearly all cruising sailors bypass the island, traveling instead directly from St Lucia to Bequia. This is how we found ourselves nervous and alone, five miles off the Atlantic coast of St Vincent on April 21, 2011.

There was no wind that morning. Worse, a current pushed against the boat’s nose at two to four knots, slowing our forward progress. Knowing we had many miles to travel, we motored at an aggressive 2800 RPMs. Even so, our boat speed was a measly three knots.

At 08:30, three fishermen fell into pace alongside our starboard hull about 100 yards off. Their colorful wooden fishing vessel sported an enormous outboard motor; they easily out-powered us and could do anything they wanted to do. After five minutes, they zoomed off out of sight, only to return again about 20 minutes later. This time, they paced us for what seemed like an eternity. I went below to retrieve the pepper spray and flare gun for Dave at the helm. For myself, I hid a couple knives in handy locations and packed away the rest. I readied the fire extinguishers to blast into the pirate’s faces and cripple knee caps. I locked one of two doors in the aft stateroom, hoping I could barricade myself—if necessary--inside.

The fishermen inched slowly toward WILD HAIR. Dave lifted the VHF radio microphone and pretended to speak into it while visually surveying the details of the wooden boat and fishermen. With that, our three pirates took off, motoring at a high speed 50 feet in front of WILD HAIR’s bow, disappearing into the morning mist.

The only scenario to these happenings we can imagine is that we were being targeted. In the vast space of the ocean, these fishermen were practically on top of us. There is no conceivable storyline as to why they were also traveling at three knots, other than they were plotting against us. They were not fishing; they were inching along by our side like stalkers. They were up to no good.

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