Dangers in sailing
The idea that the outside world, distant lands, unfamiliar places and other peoples is more dangerous than the city in which we live or the village in which we were born is an innate, instinctive feeling. We all experience it, but that doesn't mean it's true. We do not notice, but even here, in our civilized and organized world, we are exposed to dangers that we do not even pay attention to. In addition to dust, air pollution, secondhand smoke and stress, there are also freeways that rush along at a speed of one hundred and fifty per hour, road crossings, unfortunatetny cases at work, at home and even crime. We do not notice these sources of danger and live quietly in our jungle, just because this is our jungle and we are used to it. But when we are transferred to another, alien environment, such as the sea, then all the phobias and fears of everything that may seem like the dangers of an alien world come to the surface.
If you are planning to go sailing, you will hear questions from relatives and friends that you are unlikely to be able to answer:
- What will you do if a storm hits? - everyone will start asking with horror. It is not known why, but this is the very first cause for concern. This is followed by questions about dangerous animals, the lack of food and water, then the horrors of disease, thieves, criminals, pirates, earthquakes and tsunamis.
Maybe it will help you answer questions and perk up the fact that for many years of life on a boat we have never experienced very terrible storms. Yes, very bad weather happened many times, sometimes very unpleasant, sometimes for many days in a row we had to hang out on the waves, sit closed inside, but there was never such a situation that there were doubts whether we would return home alive. And they have never met animals that would seem dangerously ferocious or poisonous, not on land or in the sea. Of course there are sharks, but their real danger isThe awn is minuscule compared to the one attributed to them by films and fantastic stories going around in our world. In the Pacific and Indian Oceans, it's normal to see a few sharks when you dive, but we've never seen even one longer than two meters, and a two-meter shark, when it sees a person underwater, runs away! No animal, not even a shark, attacks a creature larger than itself.
The flag of Lima (Lima) is a ship in quarantine.
Flag of Quebec (Quebec) - a signal on my ship everyone is healthy, please release from quarantine
We have never experienced a lack of food, except perhaps something tasty, and even more so a lack of water. All kinds of diseases, although we saw a lot of them, we never got infected, because living on a boat, you are in an isolated environment, much more protected than on land.Воры, преступники и пираты?
In Mozambique, at night, someone climbed on board with us, untied the halyard to which the tender was tied, launched it and took it away with the outboard motor. There was a strong wind, the halyards banged on the mast, the current increased the waves that beat against the side, in short, the noise was strong and, fortunately, we did not hear anything. If we had heard, we would have gone out, and the thieves would probably have gone on the run, or maybe there would have been a Rambo-style fight, where we would certainly have lost. Just think, what an irony of fate! We spent two years in Muslim countries: Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Maldives,Kenya, Tanzania and everyone asked us if it was dangerous there. We answered almost jokingly that in Muslim countries you can be calm, because no one steals there. And in the very first Christian country, even in the Catholic one, Mozambique, once ... and there is no tender!
Apart from this episode, we didn't have any other big problems. A T-shirt stolen from a deck in Thailand, a pair of shoes missing from a tender in Indonesia, and an attempt to rip off a gold pendant that I foolishly kept wearing in Zanzibar, knowing that the alleys of the old city were full of thieves and pickpockets. But all this happened in heavily populated areas and partly through our fault, because we frivolously aroused too much temptation in people: everything is in sight and it is enough to stretch out a hand.
However, it is true that there are countries in which it is easy and in which it is difficult, more dangerous and more hospitable, and here the question becomes complex and multilateral.
Enter the Cape of Good Hope. Those few who went by the Red Sea went without stopping, with great effort, if only to return to the Mediterranean before hostilities began. Remember that in the Red Sea the wind always blows from the north and for those who rise to the south, it is always oncoming. Walking twenty miles a day, stopping for a couple of days to rest in the bay, and then going on the next fifteen-mile passage, is one thing, but eight hundred miles continuously on a tack among corals, reefs and oncoming ships, that is quite another!Yes, and come to the Mediterranean in mid-January, it's worse than war!
We, who in the event of a crisis have no guarantee of evacuation even from San Marino, calmly climbed the Red Sea, stopping in Sudan, Yemen and Egypt, enjoying to the fullest the most beautiful sea in the world, while on the other side of the Arabian Peninsula there were bombardments.
Which countries of the world are dangerous is a relative question. Partly it depends on your flag and a lot depends on how you behave with the authorities and with ordinary people in the places where you stay. You can't do anything with the flag, you can't hide your own nationality. However, there is never a problem with Italian, almost everywhere it causes sympathy and is well received. There are also risky flags, American in the first place, especially in Muslim countries. And although we did not happen to see open attacks against sailboats from star-bywith a mustache flag, but it often happened that the relevant authorities made life difficult for their crews much more than for us.
As for the population, their attitude towards foreigners often reflects the official attitude of the state. In fact, when traveling on a sailboat, these problems do not manifest themselves so much, because when stopping, you can avoid places with a high population density or even choose deserted places.
In the same Red Sea, where sailing takes place in the middle of Arab countries, sometimes slightly warlike, you can always go along deserted shores, and where there are small settlements, people are very far from the center of the country in order to have a minimal idea or hostility towards those who arrive from afar.
Climbing the Red Sea for the first time, frightened by all these rumors and advice not to approach land if someone calls from the shore, not to give anyone our passport and stuff like that, we stopped at marsa, something like a blue fiord embedded in ocher desert. From the shore, where a small military garrison was stationed, they began to call us and make signs to go ashore. We ignored them and spent most of the evening in the cabin to avoid further invitations. The next morning, just waking up, they noticed a tiny boat rowingagainst the wind in our direction. There was nothing to do but wait until they approached us. There were half a dozen ragged soldiers in the boat. They rowed with disproportionate oars on this trough, which was filled with water. They came only out of interest, to look at us closely, brought us a full bag of their fresh bread and invited us to go ashore, where they had a well from which we could draw as much water as needed.
We felt very uncomfortable!
From 1997 to 2000 we sailed in Indonesian waters. During our stay there (I hope we didn't bring all these disasters) there was a coup d'état, Suarto was overthrown, there were clashes between Muslim and Chinese students, an East Timor revolt and clashes between Muslims and Christians in the Moluccas. We were always close to the places of events, but on the coast where only fishermen lived, we never felt any problems in this regard.
During the East Timor uprising, we were in Lamalera, a village on a remote island, where we were filming a film about whale hunters. The village was located eighty kilometers from the scene. Periodically, military planes flew over us. And the inhabitants of Lamaler wondered what was happening.
In big cities, everything is different. There, if political or social problems arise, there is a risk of being drawn into the events. It must be said that the authorities often try to help, because the last thing they want to create problems for citizens of other states is. When we passed the Suez Canal, we had a sailboat from Israel with us, and an Egyptian military boat accompanied us all the way, not wanting to let their flag provoke any reaction.
The most important thing when traveling is to learn how to treat the people we meet in the right way. Moving in tropical latitudes, you are almost always in the waters of poor countries. People are poor, and while in the Pacific Islands they are content and happy with what they have, along the coasts of Africa and Asia they are very well aware that they are poor. The first rule is not to be tempted, although even a simple inflatable tender can be a great temptation. Don't leave too much in plain sight on deck or in the tender, it's always a big temptation. But these are all the precautions that simple common sense suggests, such as: be polite, sometimes give gifts, but do not be zealous; not be aggressive, although at times the attitude of the locals may not be the best; don't claim anything. Remember that no one is forcing you to be there and if you don't like people, just choose an anchor and move on.
Although there are really difficult countries in the world, and some (fortunately there are not many) even dangerous ones, where it is better not to stop. No, it is even better to stay as far away from their shores as possible.
One of these countries is, of course, Somalia. Instability, lasting too long, has led to complete anarchy and total armament of the population. The lords of war became the undivided masters of their territories and adjacent seas.
Another dangerous country is the Flippins. The country has many political and economic problems. Most of the population lives below the poverty line and the surrounding waters are full of restless fishing boats, which, on occasion, are not averse to robbing passing sailboats. They mastered the robbery technique at a time when boats loaded with people fleeing the Indochinese Peninsula were often found in the sea between the Philippines and Vietnam. The refugees had little money, but there were a lot of them themselves, and the robbery of these boats was an easy and sure prey forIlippine pirates ... In addition, a Muslim minority lives in the southern part of the archipelago, wishing to equalize their rights with the Catholic majority. One of the methods is the abduction of foreigners entering their territory, because it happened that the Filipinos even in Malaysia abducted tourists.
We have no direct experience of sailing in those waters. One German told us how, on his way to Korea, he saw suspicious boats approaching at night, but managed to make them leave by firing flares. However, lately we have met people who sailed through the Philippine archipelago on a sailboat without any problems.
Colombia and Panama are notorious for high crime rates, but sailing along their coasts is much safer than traveling overland. For sailboats, there are safe places to hide, such as Catrajena in Colombia and the Puerto Colon Yacht Club in Panama. At one time the waters of Colombia were full of drug traffickers looking for boats with clean papers to carry their cargo to the US. Today the situation seems to have improved, but it is still best to swim at least a hundred miles from these shores.
In South America, too, there are large areas of poverty and there is a risk of dangerous encounters, which unfortunately happened to Sir Peter Blake, but here you also need to be able to choose the right approach: we must not forget that even the simplest things available on the boat, pots, blankets, clothes, food is a real treasure in the eyes of the poor and hungry local population.
Even in the Mediterranean there are some difficult countries. Libya, for example, has always been off-limits. We know of a sailboat that many years ago, due to an accident, requested permission to stop there. Permission was received and the sailboat entered the Libyan port. The crew was initially well received, but after a few days the authorities changed their attitude. The boat was arrested and the crew thrown into prison on charges of espionage. Things are changing today, but before you go there, it's best to check.
According to history, legends, stories and rumors, the Strait of Malacca should have been a pirate nest. We have passed there many times. The first time it was alarming, then every time it was more and more calm, if only because there you are always in the company of hundreds of ships, boats, tugs, bulk carriers. In the end, we even became a little insolent and became curious. In a sense, we would like to see at least something. We wanted to find some old pirate, write down the stories and maybe even be satisfied with photographing and filming whatand be a ship with water cannons used against pirates going to board. But we never saw anything and no one could tell us anything. Pirate attacks are actually very rare. They immediately become an event and cause a great response, but still remain unlikely.
For several years now, piracy statistics have been collected by the Piracy Reporting Center of International Maritime Bureau, an agency of the international chamber of commerce and industry based in Kuala Lumpur. On average, the number of pirate attacks in the world fluctuates around three hundred per year. Of these, more than half take place in Asia, almost always against ships and almost never against small sailboats.
For those who think that these figures indicate the danger of these places or simply believe that sailing a sailboat around the world is dangerous, we want to ask the following questions:
- How many armed attacks per year occur in Italy?
- How many people are injured in one skiing season in the Alps, an area that is an infinitesimal part of the surface of tropical seas?
The answer to the last question is 30,000, of which a third is of moderate severity. It would seem more dangerous to visit the tracks of Cortina and Cervinia than to swim in the pirate waters of Malaysia.