Dangerous Water

No Telling


These Somali pirates aren’t the ones from Treasure Island or even from the old swashbucklers I watched on Saturday afternoons. Remember those old films? The Black Swan was my favorite and I wanted so badly to be sassy Maureen O’Hara loving/hating Tyrone Powers.

These Somali pirates have satellite phones and rocket launchers. They stand to make a fortune hijacking merchant ships. Millions of dollars, in fact. And it doesn’t seem to take a whole lot of them to overthrow a big merchant ship, either. Pirates have been taking ships off the coast of Somalia for so long and with such success that they’ve become cocky about it. Now they have an American captain hostage in what appears to be a toddler’s tub toy surrounded by U.S. naval ships. It’s a hell of a mess and will certainly get messier as the hours pass. These pirates are accustomed to getting what they ask for.

These Somali pirates don’t always choose the big ships. A recent and tragic story involved a French couple, their three year-old son, and two friends. Florent Tanit, father of the little boy, lost his life during the rescue of their yacht. There’s been a little talk here and there about the sailing adventure this family attempted, and the blog they kept that ends just as the Somali pirates took their boat. I found the blog here, although you’ll need to remember your old college French to read it. The pictures are enough anyway.

Pirates aside, I can’t event talk about a man who would put his wife and toddler in such danger. I’ll leave that alone. He can’t fix it now.

While I hope the U.S. Navy /orange plastic tub-toy standoff turns out well, it looks like it may be the beginning of a much larger problem. Black Hawk Down is a terrible memory, and I don’t know how provoked we need to be to go back to Somalia again. This isn’t a costume swashbuckler or kid’s novel, and no one out there is Tyrone Powers.

Captain Richard Phillips, I’m rattling the beads for you.

UPDATE: Captain Phillips has been freed!

6 thoughts on “Dangerous Water

  1. Having lived peacefully in Somalia for six years (1983-1989), it’s sad to see what has happened there. In a country that was once better known for a pastoral lifestyle and a tradition of oral poetry, terrorism has destroyed the lives of many ordinary Somalis. And now those same anarchists are projecting terrorism hundreds of miles into the surrounding seas by hijacking international shipping and their crews. I hope that those who are holding Capt Phillips hostage soon realize that their best hope lies in releasing him unharmed and that this situation is peacefully resolved. But Somali bravado and brinksmanship is, unfortunately, something to be expected. Once this present crisis has ended, perhaps the international community will finally try to find a solution to the problem of piracy in the seas off Somalia.

  2. Traveler, I imagine you’re heartsick over the changes in Somalia. It sounds like you experienced a more beautiful country than the one we’re seeing now. Let’s hope the pirates do the right thing, the only peaceful thing, by releasing the good captain unharmed and soon.

  3. I wouldn’t be surprised if we soon see a maritime version of Air Marshals traveling incognito amongst the crew. Likely accompanied by a storage container full of SEALs just waiting for the Somali miscreants to pop the latch. “Surprise!”

    Today’s capcha: “derlsize”. Derl must be a very large guy. “Damn, Otis. Them coveralls are Derlsize.”

  4. I’m still a tad agog over the ages of these “pirates.” Teenaged boys in their bullet-proof years with automatic weapons? Bad combination.

    I worked at a Levi’s store back in college that had a pair of derlsized overalls hanging on the wall. I remember moving them to the display window and sitting them on an old toilet we’d lugged out of the trash. Ah, those were the days.

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