The Captain’s Pissed Again Part 2
So, there we were. As we tied the boat up a small crowd gathered on the concrete pier looking across at us. A motley group of about twelve or fifteen hard looking fellas giving us the eye. This was making me feel uncomfortable.
To my extreme relief, the little group shuffled and parted and a smartly turned out young officer appeared at the edge of the pier. He was the commander of the Navy vessel and he addressed Peter in Oxford English.
“We don’t get many pleasure vessels in these waters. Is everything OK ? Are you lost ?” he enquired.
Peter had to admit that he didn’t know exactly where we were and explained that our captain was feeling a bit below par, casting a glance to the prow where the captain had now collapsed in an untidy heap.
While this exchange was taking place, I was looking around at the little settlement we had stumbled on. Basically, it was a ‘truck-stop’ (remember I don’t have a nautical background) for a fleet of trawlers.
As my eyes became more accustomed to the gloom, I could see probably thirty trawlers tucked away inside this little cove, neatly tied up together. Ashore, I could see a couple of guys playing pool in a little bar and there was the sound of men talking and laughing, mingled with music floating across the water.
I turned my attention back to the conversation that was going on between Peter and the Naval officer.
“Well, look”, I hear the officer say. “You’re in a dangerous place here. These fishermen are Cambodians and they are a pretty rough lot. We try to keep and eye on them. They don’t seem to fight between themselves as much when we are here. We also try to stop them from smuggling things, you know kids, drugs, guns, you name it”.
He continued, “Might I suggest you tie up your boat a bit further down the pier so that my men can keep an eye on you until the morning. It doesn’t look like you’re going anywhere tonight”.
With that, the officer signalled to a couple of his crewmen and the sailors dispersed the small crowd of onlookers and shooed them back down the pier to the settlement. The officer then returned to his own ship.
So, that was our predicament. It could have been much worse after all. At least we had some food and beer and we had come prepared to spend the night out, albeit not under armed guard!
So now, I thought to myself, all we have to do is move the boat down the pier a bit as the officer had suggested and we could basically relax until morning or at least until the captain came too.
Problem number one was that Peter had no idea how to move his boat. Willy had watched the captain before but did not have the confidence to carry out this maneuver in such a confined space. Peter looked at me without saying anything, I shook my head.
Nok came to our aid. “I can move the boat a few lousy yards” she exclaimed and climbed in to the wheelhouse. Peter did not try to stop her.
She started the engine and clunked it into reverse. So far so good. Then there was this grinding and crunching noise as the little fiberglass dinghy which was tied to the back, disintegrated as it was crushed between the stern of the boat and the concrete pier.
I hoped we wouldn’t be needing it later.
Some more shouting in German between Peter and Nok this time. I tried to look on the bright side. It was hard to see the bright side at that moment.
OK. Boat now moved to our new parking place with the Navy ship positioned between us and the settlement. We can relax.
I sat with Peter discussing the situation and we had a beer. The girls started to prepare the boat for sleeping by spreading out some rattan mats on the deck.
Willy had jumped up onto the pier and had wandered over to the Navy ship. The crew had taken him aboard and had given him a guided tour. He was now eating with them and no doubt telling them that he was going to join the navy as soon as he was old enough.
I was pleased to see this bit of bonding take place. Should we actually need the navy’s help, Willy was already their pal.
I was now beginning to come to terms with the situation although I would have much preferred it if things had gone according to plan. I was thinking about an air-conditioned hotel room, shower and a real bed with sheets. Ah well…
As if reading my mind, at that moment Pim and Nong chirp up that they can’t possibly go to sleep without having a shower first.
Now Peter’s boat is a neat bit of kit but a shower, it just did not have.
I threw the girls a glance that was meant to say “I can’t believe what I’m hearing” which of course just made them more determined that a shower had to be had and now it was becoming a firm, non-negotiable demand.
Alright, so it had been a long day and we were all bit frayed at the edges. I tried reason, “Come on girls, what are you thinking, there’s no shower on the boat”.
“I bet they’ve got showers down there” says Pim pointing to the settlement. My blood ran cold knowing that once these Thai girls decide they want something……I really did not want to be killed by pirates whilst on a quest for a shower.
Unbelievably, this shower business became an insatiable craving with the girls and I knew they were determined to visit this settlement.
Willy, God bless him came up with the answer. He jumped back up onto the pier and went to see his new found sailor mates.
He returning a few minutes later with three sailors who were all armed to the teeth with pistols and rifles. These guys were happy to escort the girls in search of their shower. So Bon, Oi, Pim, Nong, Nok, Willy and the three sailors all trooped off down the pier towards the settlement.
I could not believe this sight and Peter agreed with me that this was a little surreal, even dangerous. We flopped into a couple of deck chairs, opened a beer each and looked at each other, silently hoping our little interlude would not be interrupted by gunfire.
The captain remained unconscious in the prow.
Thirty minutes later the shower expedition party returned, mission accomplished. The sailors were rewarded with a few cans of Heineken.
Peter and me, well we would go to sleep dirty.
By now it must have been quite late as we all bedded down to try to get some rest.
I was being eaten alive by mosquitoes the size of Toyotas and there was the constant rumblings of the trawler engines pounding away, so sleep was not coming easy.
About 3.00 am I got up as it seemed all the trawlers were putting to sea. They spluttered out past us in a huge convoy and disappeared into the night. I watched them all go. The settlement had now gone quiet and by about 4.00am silence prevailed.
The rest of the gang had slept through this and started to wake about 6.00am.
It was just getting light and I could see the settlement now in daylight for the first time. Actually it was no more than a ramshackle collection of huts made of rusty corrugated metal and asbestos sheeting. I couldn’t see any people.
The navy was also preparing to leave.
What sort of shape was our captain in?
Peter found him down below pissing about with the engine. A few minutes later, we were under way. Peter had locked him in the wheelhouse now after giving him strict instructions to head straight back to Koh Chang.
Peter had also promised him that he WOULD throw him over the side if he touched any alcohol on the way back.
It had been quite an adventure and I was very pleased to arrive safely back in Koh Chang.
Willy still works for Peter and Nok but they fired the captain.