Excerpt from All I Ask is a Tall Ship by Graham Lascelles
Chapter Thirteen: Tenerife Towards Antigua
Pirates of the Caribbean
At midday on the 24th January we have sailed 2600 miles and have 90 miles to run to our destination. A force seven easterly pushes us along at an exhilarating 9 knots. The stern rises and the whole vessel is thrust forward and skyward as each 4m (14′) wave passes under us. There is a moment of hesitation, the yacht slows and the bowsprit points at the clouds as the stern falls into the following trough. Leaving us to be menaced by the next approaching liquid avalanche before the cycle is repeated for the thousandth time.
I am down below plotting our position on the chart when Anne gives a startled cry. I rush on deck. She is as usual sitting in the plastic garden chair which is lashed to the pulpit and is pointing unsteadily out to the port side. I expect to see something like a whale or tree trunk as I follow the line of her arm and extended finger. I suddenly find it a truism that your brain does work faster when under stress. Less than 20m (60′) away and passing down our side in the opposite direction is an open 6m (19′) high-powered speedboat. Time goes into slow motion, but it takes me less than a second of clock time to take in every detail of the two men standing at the steering consul. Despite the 30° C temperature they are both dressed from head to foot in oilskins, like monks their heads are completely hidden under generous hoods. Dark glasses obscure their eyes. Four unblinking black lenses stare back at me. Scarves cover the rest of their faces, like Lawrence of Arabia in a sandstorm. I am being scrutinised by robots, there is no human contact here. I cannot read a smile or a glint in the eye. Instinct kicks in and I rush below, almost falling headlong down the companion steps.
Anne thinks I am ignoring her; in fact I am trying to remember where I put the keys to the gun locker. While searching I wonder if I should return to the deck to see what is happening? Would I be better employed, trying to fight them off by hand if they try to board? I agree with Genghis Khan, you don’t start a fight you cant win. Apart from school I have never been in a proper fist fight. With the help of my son the odds would in that case at least be even. But if as is most likely they have knives then we will definitely loose. A gun out-trumps a knife. I continue to search. I will either find the keys and get the gun before they arrive on deck, or it will be too late.