Tag: Neko II

Take Two: Somali Pirates

While preparing to write my fictional account of the voyage of the Neko II around Africa, which Mr. Farago has been good enough to publish in serial on this site, I spent countless hours researching and reading the accounts of people fortunate enough to sail the globe in private yachts. One of the blogs I stumbled across and drew inspiration from was that of Scott and Jean Adam and their Davidson 58 pilot house sloop, s/v Quest. One of my story’s plot points involved a brush with Somali pirates. No metaphor about art, life, imitation, or the strangeness of fiction is adequate to describe the tragedy that befell this couple and their death at the hands of real Somali pirates.

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Leaving Home – Chapter 13 – Neptunus Rex

I was on my stomach with my hands and feet hogtied behind my back. The supply locker in which I was imprisoned was just narrower than I was tall from my knees to the top of my head. The pirates had shoved me in so that my head was lower than the rest of my body. Although my head was still covered by my pillowcase and a sock crammed into my mouth, my face was pressed so closely against a wetsuit that I could smell and taste the rubber. I wiggled and tried to crawl with my shoulders to reposition enough to gain a measure of comfort. The equatorial heat closed in on me in the airless compartment and my breathing became labored. Sweat soon lubricated the neoprene and my body slipped back into the original torturous position.

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Leaving Home – Chapter 12 – Somali Pirates

There are numerous ways to communicate from one vessel to another when at sea: maritime radio, lights flashing Morse code, semaphore flags, flaghoist signals, and gale pennants and hurricane flags. But when facing down a Johnny boat full of pirates motoring through light chop toward our stern, the Captain improvised his own communication. He snatched the shotgun from my hands and held it over his head like a victorious minuteman. After the pirates got a good look, he grabbed the weapon by the forearm, again with one hand, and pumped a round into the chamber with a flick of his arm. Without aiming, he discharged a single shell from his hip over their heads.

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Leaving Home – Chapter Eleven – Purgatory

After 36 hours of favorable winds, our sails fell slack in light airs. We were forced to motor through windless, putrid heat. The Gulf of Suez is narrow. A busy shipping channel dominates the 180-mile waterway running through its center. Even in this time of war this maritime highway was jammed with traffic — massive fast-moving container and tanker ships that would slice Neko II in half like PT-109 if she got in their way. Lacking the speed and agility of Jack Kennedy’s boat, we hugged the arid Sinai shoreline to avoid the Egyptian mainland, dodging oil wells and pipelines submerged, some only feet or inches below the surface.

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Leaving Home – Chapter Ten – Zero Hour

Ernie whisked me into the guardhouse at the foot of the dock. He checked behind me to make sure that I hadn’t been seen. As soon as he closed the door, I pulled a bottle of Plomari Ouzo from my bag and handed it to Bert. Ernie did a little happy dance and Bert cupped the bottle solemnly in his hands and raised it heavenward, as if presenting a newborn child to Allah for a blessing. Light from a bare overhead light bulb diffracted brilliantly through the clear liquid.  His crooked, stained teeth worked the cork out of the bottle. He spat it into a corner. I handed Ernie a second bottle, holding two in reserve in my rucksack. And then I sat down to eat with the two men that I had been sent to kill.

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Leaving Home – Chapter Nine – The Executioner

The walk from Neko II’s gangplank to the guardhouse at the foot of the dock was laborious. Little ridges of black tar bubbled out of the dock’s creosote-impregnated timbers.  Each step across the dock made a scandalous ripping noise. My gaze darted frenetically down the dock, to the window, the door, to the warehouses beyond.  The oily smell of the dock, the aroma of the slow-roasted meats in my backpack, and the approaching stench of humanity emanating from the old dock house overwhelmed my senses. This would be the night we made our escape. Hidden behind a panel sewn in to the bottom of the bag was the gun I’d use to set our boat free. Yet I felt like I was marching to my own execution.

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Leaving Home – Chapter Eight – Bert and Ernie

More than twenty-four hours after the bombing of the airfield north of Suez, it was apparent that our two captors had been abandoned at their post. They seldom ventured beyond the threshold of the dock house at the foot of the pier.  One was taller and thin and had a tuft of black hair sprouting form the middle of his receding hairline.  The other was compact and wide.  Their heads frequently appeared like hand puppets in the small rectangle window that overlooked the pier.  I began to call them Bert and Ernie. The rest of the Neko II crew immediately picked up on the nicknames.

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