When I was young, out of the many professions or occupations that I thought about doing when I got older, becoming a doctor or a lawyer were never listed as the ones that would interest me. Of course my only interaction with either one of these professions was limited to the occasional doctor’s visit and what I could see on TV. Neither vocations excited me. What did enthuse me from watching TV however, was the idea of become a pirate.
Even though I didn’t know then and still don’t know now what swash buckling was, I was thrilled by the thought of doing it for a living. I dreamed of ordering the canon to be shot broadside against the enemy ships, swinging from the ropes when boarding them, swordplay, screaming “arghh matey” and “shiver me timbers” and scaring the women folk. It was a job where all men were equal unless you were the captain, and you didn’t have to explain your skin color or your religion or why you hadn’t had sex with a girl even though every male you knew said that they had. Yet I knew deep down that those days were over and that it would be one more dream that would never be fulfilled. That is until recently.
It was only a few years ago while watching 60 Minutes or some other news show that I heard about the many small boats and yachts that were being robbed by bandits as they sailed the Caribbean. It was a kind of modern day act of piracy that got a few bucks for the perpetrators. The big money events, I would learn last year or the year before were going to the pirates out of Somalia where they would hijack the larger ships and tankers operating in the Gulf of Aden between the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea, leading to the Indian Ocean.
Apparently these brigands will come upside of the ships in little motorized boats, throw some grappling hooks and climb on board before anyone knows what’s happening and take over the boat. Then they’ll hold it hostage until payment has been made by the owners for whatever cargo the boat is carrying. The real big haul is when they can get a super tanker full of oil worth millions of dollars and take home some prize money of say 10% of the oil’s value.
Unless you having been living under a rock for the last few days, then you would probably know at least a little about the present situation where a US flagged ship, the Maersk Alabama was the first ship since I guess the days of the Barbary Pirates to be attacked by buccaneers. I’m not going to comment on the circumstances other than I hope that it doesn’t turn into an Obama version of the situation Clinton faced with the Branch Davidians in Waco Texas. But I will say it doesn’t seem to be as glamorous as when Errol Flynn and his like portrayed pirating on the silver screen. In fact, it seems like a dull thing to do and kind of silly position to be in once you’ve been surrounded by what looks like the US 7th fleet.
Oh well, another childhood belief dashed to pieces.