News Home Video Gallery Newsletters Photo Gallery Cruising Int
Sail-World.com : Pirate victims tell: What really happened
Pirate victims tell: What really happened

'Chandlers have disappeared into cruising mode - Rachel waves as they set off - photo by www.theviewfromthedartmouthoffice.co.uk'    .

British piracy victims Paul and Rachel Chandler have slipped the mooring lines once again and, almost three years after their capture, are again more concerned about weather systems and anchors holding than they are about world news. But before they left they finally gave a comprehensive interview about the circumstances of their captivity for 388 days in Somaliland.

The British pair were taken prisoner while sailing in the Indian Ocean in October 2009 with the pirates demanding a $7-million ransom, a sum the Chandlers knew was far beyond what their family and friends could raise. Hidden in Somalia, they faced the risk of disease and feared getting caught in the cross-fire between multiple gangs or being sold to al-Qaida.

The most striking thing about the couple is not that they emerged unscathed from captivity but just how intensely close they are. The strength of their marriage was key to helping them survive the 13-month long nightmare at the hands of Somali pirates.

Married for more than 30 years, Rachel often finishes Paul's sentences for him, while he hangs on her every word; they grin at each other constantly as if sharing a private joke.
Throughout our interview at a quiet marina in Devon, on the southwest coast of England, they inched closer together, often leaning in to whisper reassurances or give a squeeze of the hand.

Rachel, 58, is the chattier of the two with twinkling blue eyes and an easy smile. Paul, 61, is softly-spoken and amiable, but more reserved than his gregarious wife. Underneath the friendly banter there is a steely determination that must have served them well when they faced their biggest challenge at sea.

As we sit aboard the Lynn Rival, the Chandlers recounted how they had just enjoyed a break in the Seychelles in October 2009 before setting sail for Tanzania. It was then that their trip turned into a living hell.

Hostages for a year - Rachel and Paul Chandler -  .. .  

The pirates launched their attack in the middle of the night while Rachel was on watch. She recalls hearing the engine of their vessel approach, a light was shone and then 10 men armed with guns and knives jumped on board yelling. A terrified Rachel froze. She shows me what she calls a 'morbid souvenir,' a sharp knife in its leather sheath belonging to one of the pirates. She giggles as she admits to having also kept one of the pirate's torn flip-flops; we joke about her putting it up for auction on eBay.


Rachel Chandler -  .. .  
The picture on the left is the one that was flashed around the world when the first journalist was allowed to enter the pirates lair.

In their months as prisoners, the couple sometimes wondered if they should have jumped into the midnight ocean at that moment. However, they know that it would only have meant certain death. Instead they spent six days in confined space with Somali pirates while they and their boat were brought to a container ship. From there they realized bigger plans were afoot.

'We knew we were going to be taken on shore, and when we landed on Somalia, then it really hit home and that was a real low point,' Paul said.

The couple were taken in-land where they were held for 382 more days. Somali pirates assume that all Westerners are extremely wealthy, especially those able to take a yacht to sea.

Paul, a Cambridge University-educated civil engineer, and Rachel, a former government economist, embarked on a part-time sailing lifestyle in 2005 but knew that raising the $7-million ransom would be almost impossible.

'They knew that had to keep us alive and so they did feed us most of the time,' says Rachel. 'At times they tried to threaten us, obviously encourage us to beg for money when they allowed us to speak to our family. All they wanted was money.'

The weeks and months that followed were difficult. The couple had their hopes of being released dashed so many times, they soon learned to ignore the pirates attempts to upset them. Largely, the couple say, they came to no harm, although Paul does add they were beaten once. This was after they resisted the captors' attempts to separate them. The separation hit Rachel, in particular, very hard.

'I couldn't eat, I couldn't function, I couldn't think,' she says. 'I was worrying all the time about how Paul was and what pressure they are putting him under and whether he was well and still alive.'

During this time Paul tried to befriend his captors while Rachel says she coped by daydreaming of rescue, recalling happier times and focusing on getting through from one day to the next.

In total they were held for 388 days, during which time Paul's elderly father passed away.

Their families finally managed to raise a fraction of the ransom demanded – about $440,000. The pirates took this but refused to return the couple. The couple's relatives were devastated -- and allege that they had very little help or guidance from the British government.

'Some governments have a reputation of being hard – the French and the Americans particularly,' Paul said. 'They want to send a message: Don't mess with our citizens. The British government hasn't had the will to do that. '

In the end, help came from an unexpected quarter. A British-Somali businessman reportedly raised some more cash and with some negotiation, secured their release.

The news flashed across the world. Unbeknownst to them, during their time in captivity the couple had become household names in Britain. The now-famous footage showing their moment of freedom has them looking thin and frail but chatting happily.

Paul and Rachel Chandler soon after their release -  .. .  

A stronger, healthier Rachel now tells me through smiles she was stunned by the coverage. 'It was the same time as [Myanmar's opposition leader] Aung San Suu Kyi [was freed] and to be next to her in the headlines was just unbelievable for us.'

In the time since, the couple have not had any counseling but they say writing their book, 'Hostage: A Year at Gunpoint with Somali Gangsters' has provided closure. But the most cathartic times may yet lie ahead, when they take Lynn Rival back to sea.

'I never stopped wanting to go out to sea,' Rachel says. 'What happened to us was an extremely unlucky experience. It hasn't changed my love of sailing, cruising or traveling.'

They laugh at suggestions that they are either 'bonkers or brave'; their biggest concern is neither flashbacks nor pirates striking again but more their physical fitness. But when pushed, Paul does hint at a new cautiousness. 'It's a shame because every time we are approached by a little boat at sea, it's probably a fisherman wanting to give you fish in exchange for a cigarette or a bit of water, but we will be more weary.'

After what they've been through, no one, least of all a friendly fisherman, would blame them.

Farewell to the Chandlers - off to recapture their old life -  .. .  


by Tazeen Ahmad/Sail-World Cruising

  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=102156

3:31 AM Wed 19 Sep 2012GMT


Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.

Click for further information on
Piracy and the Cruising sailor

Related News Stories:

10 Sep 2012  Couple kidnapped by pirates triumph by setting sail again
29 Aug 2012  Piracy on the downturn in Somali waters
17 Jul 2012  Somali piracy - dramatic drop in incidents
03 Jul 2012  The Human Cost - why cruising sailors should avoid pirate zones
27 Jun 2012  Freed South African sailors to reach Johannesburg today
22 Jun 2012  Kidnapped cruising sailors freed after 20 months captivity
08 Jun 2012  Chandlers return to sailing after pirate horror.
03 Jun 2012  EU Naval Force Delivers Blow Against Somali Pirates On Shoreline
19 May 2012  Indian Ocean Piracy and the road to a solution
11 May 2012  Kidnapped South African cruising sailors confirmed alive
MORE STORIES ...






Cruising USA







Barnacle Busting by Neil and Ley Langford,


From Penguins to Polar Bears by Cherie Winner,




Polar research: Six priorities for Antarctic science by Mahlon C. Kennicutt II and colleagues,




NCI granted dedicated VHF Channel by National Coastwatch,


Positive news for cruising boats in Greece by The Cruising Association,




















Risks to penguin populations continues by British Antarctic Survey,




Follow these tips when anchoring by Alex and Daria Blackwell,


Galley Guys meet the Spice Lady by Greg Nicoll, Andy Adams and John Armstrong,




If all else fails read the instructions!! by Stuart Carruthers, RYA Cruising Manager,




Phuket Yacht Show: new kid on the block taking on PIMEX? *Feature by Guy Nowell, Sail-World Asia and Phuket Yacht Show,






Flags at Sea, an infographic by John Tissott by Anna Parker and the Sail-World Team,








Teen names latest RNLI Shannon class lifeboat in Poole + Video
Fascinating opportunity with OceansWatch
Fake GPS signals detected when cruising the high seas
Our new Cruising Editor editor remembers his first offshore adventure
Blue Planet Odyssey - Jimmy Cornell playing catch up on North West Pa
World ARC 2014 reaches Australia
Venezuelan Port Control lift recent port restrictions.
Seismic survey ship operating north of Aruba and Curacao
Predictwind helps you pick the best time to depart
Watch this whale lift a Kayak clear out of the water
World ARC reaches half-way point in Australia
Northern Scotland: Voyage to Orkney and Shetland Isles (Part 2) *Feature
Drowning or electric shock? What you need to know to help save a life
Costa Concordia - the $2.25 billion salvage operation ready to begin
Northern Scotland: Voyage to Orkney and Shetland Isles, more photos *Feature
Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show - New location and attractions
Long Island waters could become more taxing this summer
4.8 million Legos all at sea
Tranquil, colourful and funky, Genoa Bay is a must stop for West Coast *Feature
Scientist pioneered tracer to reveal hidden ocean flows
Sail-World 2.0 - the Beta version- Please take a look   
Dredging activity near corals can increase frequency of diseases   
World ARC heading out of the Pacific   
Understanding the Ocean's role in Greenland Glacier melt   
Desolation Sound added to Salish Sea Pilot free cruising guides   
Three Defensive Docking Strategies for Sailors   
Revealing report on Search for American yacht Nina released *Feature   
PredictWind's Weather Routing opens your navigation options - try it!   
Sail-World Cruising Founding Editor Nancy Knudsen says farewell   
Book review: Weather - you like it or not   
Vaavud launches generation 2 wind meter   
The drama begins - North West Passage sailors rescued from ice   
Entering an unfamiliar bay - decision time   
Baby Nemos finding their way home   
High Latitude Sailing - Book of the Week   
Will the Olympics make a difference to Rio pollution? *Feature   
Blue Planet Odyssey, around world rally, begins   
Africa Europe Cruising Challenge now open for entries   
The real ‘Supermoon’ story   
Warm and noisy welcome for Oceans of Hope in La Rochelle   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News







Sail-World.com  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/FaceBook-icon.png  

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
XLXL NEW Cru USA
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT