The Adventures of a Part Time Professional Gypsy (and her ginormous teddy thing)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Shipwrecked... Marooned... Destined for Greatnesses

From left to right: South Africa (Adeena), America (Jon), Netherlands (Luke) Czech Republic (Helena), Estonia (Tom)

Marooned on a deserted island at sunrise… our final liters of water beguiling us. Netherlands had suffered hallucinations all night, his feet ripped by coral, his leg swollen from an unfortunate collision with a jellyfish. Czech Republic had heat stroke. America and Estonia weren’t in good repair either; I struggled to perform the basic skill of standing. It had been pouring with rain all night and we were all exhausted.....

Only ten days earlier we’d sat staring into the islandly abyss as the sun ducked behind a distant land and we’d decided we needed a boat. 

It turns out boats are pretty expensive – who knew? And that’s why we begged, borrowed and bought everything we needed to build one. We figured a day or two of hard labour would have us sailing in no time, but 8 days of sweat and toil later we were finally ready. Or at least we thought we were.

We decided we’d sail all the way into Thailand and, because there’s no way to legally do this on a self-constructed raft; we appropriately named the vessel ‘The Illegal Immigrant.’ And she was beautifully immigrantish.

We sailed and paddled and swam and visited beautiful islands and life was perfect! Surreally perfect! Until about 4pm that was… At 4 the winds picked up. Czech told us she kept hearing snapping noises – we assured her we were fine, perfectly perfectly fine. 

And then we watched our first barrel float away.

I dived in and chased it across the sea and when I finally reached it I realized there was no possible way I could actually bring it back and, worse – I realized the current was dragging us into an infinite harbor wall… the waves were crashing violently against the wall and our little Immigrant didn’t stand a chance. With a barrel gone there was no steering; we had twenty minutes tops to abandon ship.

A golden island beach glistened in the distance and so, with all our belongings tied to us, with all the food and water we could carry, and with a make shift life jacket keeping Czech afloat, we started the swim. A good two and a half hour swim [- sing- talk- do anything to keep our minds off the incessant swimming] later we were battling the coral and dragging our belongings onto the shore.

Excitement and amazement as we reached the shore alive!
And that wasn’t the end of it either… the storm was closing in fast and our island held nothing but rocks and trees and crabs and sand and so, using sticks and ropes and the remains of our sail, we constructed a shelter and a fire and huddled together trying desperately to warm ourselves and recuperate.

We drifted in and out of sleep as the wind howled and the torrents poured down and lightning flashed and crabs attacked our toes and by sunrise we were desperately plotting our escape.

Netherlands and I etched ‘SOS’ ‘HELP’ into the sand while Estonia and Czech tried to flag down passing fisherman and America tried to reach civilization. But nobody paid any attention to us as we yelled and waved and whistled and every time hope glistened, it turned and fled in the wrong direction.

Just before noon we watched a skipper pulling around the corner with a very fatigued America onboard. He’d rounded our island, swam to the next, walked through the middle of that one, and found a small private resort with a boat… Our rescue boat. We were saved!

Our rescue boat
They returned us to the realer world a lot faster than we’d left it. where we all ventured off in search of new adventures [And the hospital].

And it's amazing how life brings you around in circles, but today, 6 months later, I'm back in Malaysian waters, building a new sort of boat... Let's hope this time's a little [or a lot] less shipwrecky!

For the very professional photos of the story, visit

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