Sat, 23rd August 2003, 3.45pm. The last month aboard my sailboat ‘Daze Off’. Location : The idylic Bakers Bay, Abaco, Bahamas.A sizzling hot day, clear blue skies, crystal clear seas – ‘bath water’ warm. After a trip ashore in my 16ft Carolina, I rounded the almost deserted bay headland and remembered the captain of a power boat had anchored nearby (an Englishman who I had met at a Xmas party 02). Skimming by, I waved hello, his fiancé asked if I’d like a beer? Tying up my Carolina and flush with fresh lobster tails – I offered some with their welcome ‘sundowners’, the Capt. was laughing and joking and introduced me to his Mum. I said I would go and put my shopping away and come back with wine. Returning, I tied off on the stern, we opened the wine and made our way to the top deck to watch the sunset. The Capt. was cooking on the BBQ whilst chatting to his Mum. The afternoon progressed, he was constantly ‘having a go’ as we discussed different things – the banter being negative from the Capt but cordial, Mum said “now boys stop going on – and eat” The Capt. voiced a couple of digs but strangely shook my hand? complimenting me on living afloat 5 yrs in the Bahamas, though he was negative and rude most of the time – I didn’t rise to the occasion and just carried on laughing and joking with the girls. The Capt. disappeared (I thought for more wine). Suggesting to the girls that it was time for me to head back- I had no sooner stood up when the engines started? and the boat roared off? knocking glasses everywhere!! Walking into the main salon I asked “what’s the plan, where are we going?” No response from The Capt. (His fiancé didn’t know what was going on either), I said to The Capt. “I don’t want to go much further past my boat, so just let me off” – NO response??, I then tried to pull the dink towards the moving boat’s stern but couldn’t, so I asked The Capt. to stop, stating that I didn’t want to go all the way back to the main land over 7 miles away – still NO response?, he just rushed uptop and didn’t seem to be at the helm – so I tried to stop the boat at the lower controls and rushed to the stern, I almost succeeded untying the dragging dink but the boat roared off again. His fiancé puzzled at what was going on as I grabbed the lower controls for a 2nd time slowing the boat just enough to unhook the dink but the boat sped off [now my dink was adrift in the open sea] I had no choice – I jumped overboard – the wake pulled me violently underwater but I surfaced to see my dink in the distant white wake, I also noticed that The Capt.’s boat was turning around?, I thought he was coming back to apologise but he was heading at speed right at me? – I scrambled onboard my dink, started the engine just as his boat missed me!!!! – I gestured ‘Up Yours’ and he laughed making some gesture back.Perhaps I should have left the matter there – but, I realized that he must have done this on purpose?? he saw me struggling in deep water!!! and just sailed away? I was furious and chased after him (his boat was not as fast as my dink) Motoring along side – shouting that I thought he was raving mad – he just laughed? “your’e a bloody raving lunatic” I shouted – but just at that exact moment my engine stopped dead, Oh no!! I realized something had wrapped around the prop. Struggling to free it I saw that The Capt.’s boat was turning around? (I thought he was coming back to help) but he was coming straight at my beam? I stood up in my little boat saying “Are you actually TRYING to kill me”? – with anger in his eyes he just headed straight for me – beam on, the towering bow of his boat crashed heavily into my dink – the only chance I had was to dive onto his bow rail as it rushed past, but as I hung on – pleading for help – The Capt. came racing to the bow raining vicious blows at my head and arms – I had to let go and fell into a silence of swirling bubbles as two screws spiralled inches from my head ……Arms stretched out like a cross and submerged about 8ft, I looked upward into streams of evening sunlight, there was no panicking or even gasping for air?? My first thought was – is this death? Are my eyes still functioning with my dying brain?……but to my amazement I surfaced, my dink was 10 yards away, I started swimming but was so exhausted I didn’t think I would make it – then I noticed The Capt.’s boat was heading for me again – I had almost made it when he crashed heavily between my salvation pushing us apart. Whilst he laughed and just sailed by I shouted and pleaded that I didn’t want to die this way and that I couldn’t swim any longer, he just looked on, laughing – but with my heart pounding I did manage and reached the safety of my dink – Oh God help me -The Capt.’s boat was turning around yet again!! With a massive burst of adrenalin I quickly clambered aboard [now, I NEVER usually have a hand-held radio in my dink but on this special day I did?] I hailed for help on ch68. The Capt.’s boat seemed to slow down in a large and menacing circle, he must have heard my radio plea and the panic responses back but he still headed towards me again, I had to stop broadcasting to put on my life jacket – ready for the next attack – however I also saw 2 dinks racing from the distant bay. The Capt.’s boat turned away and headed off……..Safely aboard my Carolina along with my rescuers we discovered the painter had in deed wrapped round the prop’, we freed it and headed back. Shocked and totally exhausted I sat onboard my saviours boat – ‘Gusto’ – still shaking and in a state of absolute relief… I collapsed in tears (of joy at being alive).
From Paradise to hell and back…..
Why did he do it? – I am clueless to this day, I can only assume he was some form of ‘Crack Head’. His girlfriend and the only witness left the islands suddenly the next day. The police (pathetically) investigated but he too flew off the islands to meet up with his girl friend who he then attacked for supporting me. The Florida police arrested him and there was talk of deportation.
An abridged true story extracted from ‘Sailing with Angels’ edited 070905.1857