Stickman Readers' Submissions February 26th, 2005

The Captain’s Pissed Again Part 1

Koh Chang is not a place that I knew too much about so when my teeruk suggested we go there for a few days break I had no reason to object. Hell I might even enjoy a few days by the sea in somewhere that was not Pattaya or Phuket.

“And anyway” my teeruk explained, “we’ll see Pim and Nong and Oi there, because Willy’s got a job on a boat’. Clear?

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Well, my little Siamese Princess is called Bon. She’s from Isaan. So is Pim, Nong and Oi and they are all good friends. Pim has a fourteen year old son called Willy. Willy’s father died in rather tragic circumstances a few years
back but that’s another story. He was a friend of mine and I am really quite fond of Willy. He’s a bright lad who speaks English, German and Thai and now he’s got a job on a boat in Koh Chang.

So Bon and I arrive on Koh Chang on Friday evening having driven down from BKK. Not too far and quite a pleasant drive. We check in to some fairly modest accommodation practically on the beach. A few minutes later we are in relaxed mode,
strolling along the sand.

It is already dark and the beach-side bars and restaurants are lit up and ready for business. We stop for a beer and a bite to eat at a place the girls had all agreed to meet.

Presently, along comes Pim and Oi. Nong turns up a few minutes later and before you know it a real little party session is underway. Nong has brought with her Peter (who’s a German) and his GF, Nok. Willy is finishing up closing the
boat hire shop next door which is owned by Peter and Nok.

We spend a very pleasant evening on the sand drinking and eating and generally having fun. At some point during the evening Pim and Nok decide that tomorrow we will all go out for a cruise on Peter’s boat, do some snorkeling and we
should be prepared to sleep over on one of the nearby islands. All sounds very nice to me and we agree to meet here at 11.00am the next day.

Now I’m a land lubbing city boy really but this boat trip business appealed to me greatly and I must say, I was looking forward to it.

At 11.00 the next morning, Bon and I are outside Peter’s boat hire shop ready to go. Of course, this being Thailand, the rest of our party would not be putting in an appearance for at least an hour and then needed something to eat
while waiting for the Captain to arrive.

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Ah yes, the sodding Captain.

At this point it is worth mentioning that this is the first opportunity I had had to actually see Peter’s boat. Being totally ignorant of all things nautical, all I can tell you is that to me, it looked the business. There were two
decks, a wheelhouse, a small galley, ladders for climbing on and off, a step thing at the stern for getting into the water with diving gear on and there it was, bobbing about at anchor just beyond the surf. Well, OK.

Almost 1.00pm now and Willy arrives with the Captain. We are almost ready to go. But the skipper needs a drink first.

No problem. So we load up a little fiberglass dinghy with all our kit for this two day cruise and Willy ferries us out in relays to the main vessel.

There’s food, beer, extra clothes, towels, drinking water and jerry cans of petrol (or whatever it is that boats run on). Three relays and everyone’s aboard. Willy ties the dinghy up to the back of the boat and we sort ourselves
out as the Captain gets us underway.

Now, I wouldn’t say that the sea was rough because it wasn’t but there was a bit of a breeze and the boated rocked enough to make standing up quite difficult. So I opted for one of the deck chairs on the upper deck and settled
down with a cold beer.

Off we chug and as we gather speed the boat seems to become more stable. I relax into my chair and take in the spectacular view, sunshine and sea air.

We chug around some small, uninhabited islands and eventually stop for some snorkeling. Brilliant !!

By and by we are all back on board and off we go again, headed for Koh something or other which is where we plan to spend the night. I settle into my favourite spot on the upper deck and enjoy the ride.

Chatting with Peter it soon becomes clear that he knows less than I do about boats and seafaring, instead, trusting in the Captain for everything. He made some money in textiles some years ago and is now living his ‘Asian Dream’
he explained.

Now throughout the afternoon from my vantage point I noticed a steady stream of empty Mekong Whisky bottles being ejected from the wheelhouse into the sea. Only one person in the wheelhouse of course but I didn’t think too much of
it. On we go.

The afternoon is fading away now and there is no land to be seen in any direction. The sea has become as calm as a millpond and the sun is about to disappear directly behind us. Presently, it does so and I cleverly calculate that we must be heading due
east. There goes another empty bottle of Mekong whizzing out of the wheelhouse.

Everyone seems very relaxed including Peter and Nok so I try to dispel the thoughts coming into my head. Thoughts like :

“Why can we not see any land?” “It’s gonna be real dark soon”. “I hope the Captain knows where he’s going”. You know, those kind of thoughts.

A few minutes later, the sun has completely disappeared and the darkness envelopes us like a thick black blanket. The boat is well lit of course but out there, there’s no moon, no stars nothing but pitch blackness.

I ask Peter how much further we have to go but he has to refer to the Captain and makes his way to the wheelhouse. I follow.

You guessed it, the Captain is slumped in his chair incapable of speech or movement and has no idea where he is let alone any idea of where WE are.

The boat, of course is still nipping along pretty much as it had been all afternoon. My guess is that we are still heading east. Spookily, a scene from the movie ‘Apocalypse Now’ comes to mind. You know the scene where the guy
on the boat says ‘We’re turning back. That’s Cambodia up there’.

We figure we had better slow down a bit so I go to work on that while Peter tries to revive the Captain. Mainly by throwing water at him and swearing at him in German. We are still pressing on through the night but now a bit slower.

The girls carry on talking and laughing amongst themselves outwardly showing no signs of any kind of concern. I don’t think they even noticed the mild excitement that must have been coming from the wheelhouse.

The Captain is absolutely hammered but after a few minutes seems to gather enough control of himself to allow us to believe that he might actually know where we are and possibly where we are going. We give him the benefit of the doubt. There
is no alternative.

Then up ahead and to the right I see some coloured fluorescent lights and the Captain urges the boat toward them. Perhaps he had it all under control all the time.

Not frigging likely.

As we approached the lights I can make out that it is a small settlement of some kind. There is music and I can see people milling about but what really got my attention was the Royal Thai Navy vessel that emerged from the night’s
blackness just to our left. As I peered through the gloom I could see that the navy ship was in fact tied up to a concrete pier and the crew, who had been washing themselves on the deck stopped what they were doing and were looking at us with
very quizzical expressions on their faces.

We stopped and tied up to the pier beside the Navy ship. I felt some relief but this was to be short lived.

To be continued…

Stickman's thoughts:

Send in part 2 fast! This looks like a really good story!

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