Thursday, April 9, 2009

Ports Of Call

Recent attacks upon ships in the area of Somalia make a slow news day a bit juicier. These types of news bites always bait me into discussions with people: is it really good judgement to sail with your family into international waters. The typical line of questioning includes this line of reasoning peppered with what happens if... We are planning such a trip at the moment. The threat of piracy has always been very real, and until recently pirates have pretty much only been interested in large container ships: ships loaded with palm oil, plywood, natural gas, and supertankers carrying all manner of freight are seen as an easy, slow, cash cow mark. Yachts are small fish relatively speaking.

The areas of most concern are located along with the waters off the coast of Somalia as is the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca, the stretch of water between west Malaysia and the Indonesian island of Sumatra for those of you nautically challenged. But remember, there are so many ports of call, so a few off limits- no problemo. Really. just mark em' off the list.

As sailors, we have heard of fellow sailors finding them selves in harm's way. The few isolated incidents included one due to the ship anchoring off of a prison island in Panama, another was a botched robbery attempt and the boat owner was pistol whipped with his own gun. And no, we don't carry firearms aboard. It was a big enough arm twist to allow my spear-fishing spear gun along, and even today it's a source of contention. I usually remind the captain of all the amazing meals and this sore point fades to black, except when I covet a larger version gun.

As much as I enjoy the unknown and appreciate the unexpected, we take calculated risks in life whether its' setting sail for Australia, or crossing the street outside of the cross walk. I don't venture alone into the Tenderloin District in The City to visit my favorite tandoori spot. I assume it's human nature to worry about what could happen. I just don't chose to live my life as a worrywart. Besides if my number is up I would rather be a more tasty obituary with a more interesting bi-line than being hit by a bus jaywalking. So as we plot and plan our next adventure, know that we always seek crew that feels comfortable bringing boat parts into exotic ports. Just leave the firearms at home.

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