Help, we’re sinking…fast

Here I am about to go on a boat trip and stupidly I had not even considered we would do this. How I had imagined we would visit a floating village without a boat being involved, I do not know. But that’s me, say yes to things and think about it later.
Now I don’t particularly like boats. In fact I don’t particularly like water either. Well, obviously not all water. I don’t want you think I don’t shower. It’s more sea like water, the stuff that boats sail on, that have an adverse effect on me. I have a good reason for this sailing aversion. I can’t swim and any boat trip is seen as a possible drowning threat. The only boats I will go on and probably then kicking and screaming are those that tend to have lots of safety equipment such as lifeboats, life rafts, life jackets; you know all those safety things that have the word life attached to them. I want to live you see for quite a few more years. I know, maybe learning to swim might be a good idea. My attempts at swimming lessons are a whole other blog. Anyway, as usual I am digressing. Back to the boat, did I say boat? Oh, God, never has something looked less like a boat than this one and the sailor less like a sailor. I want to die…
‘Surely we aren’t getting on that,’ I say weakly.
Andrew’s face is enough to tell me we are. After all we have just paid thirty dollars to go on this and Andrew is determined to get his money’s worth. If that means I drown, so be it. Okay, he isn’t that bad. In Cambodia there are two words that just do not exist. Those two words are Health and Safety. This is not a nanny state, oh no. I am the first to disapprove of nanny States but God knows right at that moment I would have begged to be part of a nanny state. The boat is of medium size and is made up of planks of wood with lots of gaps between them. It seems to be cobbled together from bits of old car parts. The motor is an old car engine lashed to the stern; the rudder is controlled by two lengths of rope strapped around a steering wheel

Our Captain.
For some reason there is a hand brake which never seems to get used, obviously. The petrol tank is a plastic drum wedged into the back.
The back of the boat and the rickety chair. Note the car battery...
There is a noticeable absence of a silencer so when the boat was throttled back we were practically deafened, not to mention almost choking to death on the fumes. But when it moved it was like greased lightning. We shot off at such speed that the wake demolished any living habitation. The word conservation doesn’t have an equivalent translation it seems. But again, I digress. Before all this happened I had to actually board the boat. Not as easy as it sounds. I stared as if hypnotised at the distance from the ground to the inside of the boat and watched as Andrew heaved himself up. Yes, right. I continue staring until the captain understands the problem and walks off to get a ladder, obviously, except the ladder to the boat seems to be a rickety old chair with a hole in the middle. Knowing I have no other option I climb onto the chair gripping the Captains hand tightly. The Captain by the way looks not a day over sixteen and less like a Captain than anyone I have ever seen. What am I doing? Help!
Trying to look relaxed
I am finally on board and all I want to do is jump off. Where is everyone else? After all there is safety in numbers right? Before I know where we are he is starting the engine and we are off and like I say Greased lightning has nothing on us… I grip the sides and pray. I look behind us in the hope of seeing the security of another boat but there is nothing. At least the water is not too deep. Famous last words, I hear you say. Oh yes indeed. Ten minutes later the water is very deep. In fact all around us is water. Nothing else, no other people, no other boats, just lots and lots of snake infested water and I fear I may never leave Cambodia alive. But amazingly enough we reach the floating village in one piece and he pulls the boat close to the floating café. We, of course, do not have any money left. On reflection, I do believe this was our big mistake.
Tea, anyone...
Had we climbed from the boat and had a nice cuppa all would have been fine. The boat would have had a rest as would have we. But, come on, when do things go smoothly in my life? Come on, answer me? I rest my case. So, on declining a cuppa we take the long route to turn around and head back through the village and finally home. I am a bit more relaxed now and take some photos. I am slightly perturbed by the depth of the water but convince myself everything is fine as we are on our way back. I am so busy snapping away with my camera that is a few seconds before I realise the captain has cut the engine. The boat bobs gently on the deep water and I look around me to see we are totally alone. Not another human in sight. My stomach flutters and I tell myself it is flatulence. Well, let’s face it panic is the last thing we need. Famous last words. I turn to Andrew and in a forced calm voice, which he sees through right away, ask.
‘Is everything okay?’
He nods. ‘Just a slight technical hitch.’
Oh, that’s okay then.
‘We’re sinking’
Nothing in sight, not even a solitary fish

What! What! He points behind him and oh my God, there is water everywhere. Well of course there is water everywhere. What I mean is, it is everywhere it shouldn’t be. Like in our sodding boat. Oh someone please help. A slight technical problem? I’m going to drown and Andrew thinks it is a slight technical problem.
‘Please be serious, is everything okay? We will be okay won’t we? He knows what he’s doing doesn’t he?’
I get the ‘You are getting hysterical look’
‘I don’t know, but I presume so. He has stopped the engine.’
I look frantically around me. Must keep calm, must think of strategies for rescue. Look at the situation calmly. Okay, I am in Cambodia, in the middle of a deep-sea, with no other boats nearby and not another soul in sight, unless you count Andrew and the Captain. The Captain can’t speak English. There is no life raft, no life boat, no life jackets and I can’t swim. Oh God, soon there will be no life, No, no think positive. Think positive, why am I thinking this is somewhat impossible? The only thing I can see on the boat is water and a rickety chair. Deep breaths, deep breaths. I strain to see the nearest bank but there isn’t one. Check Blackberry. Yes, as I guessed, no signal. I’m going to drown in Cambodia and no one will know, well my family will. But no one else will. It’s not like I’m famous. I probably won’t even make the local paper. Oh, what a sad end. Oh, hang on what’s this? The Captain is strolling past me, fag in mouth, and carrying a car battery.
Letting in water

‘Ah,’ says Andrew. My lovely hubby has an irritating habit of saying Ah, and Mmm, a lot. I have come to know the meanings of these Ah’s and Mmm’s over the years and this is such a hopeful Ah that I allow myself a heavy sigh of relief.
‘What is he doing?’ I ask hopefully.
We both watch as the smiling Captain attaches something to the battery and sticks a hose into the water.
‘He’s draining the water out of the boat. Funny isn’t it?’
I beg to differ. I can see nothing to laugh about here unless you count my hysterical laugh as comical.
The water pump

The boat continues to bob and the Captain gives us a thumbs up. Yes, well, this is not very good actually. After all we have paid for this. I could pay a lot less to go in a haunted house if I wanted to be scared to death. The water runs over my feet and I pull them up quickly. Visions of the water reaching my chin haunt me and I start humming to push the thoughts away. I lean over the boat to see the pump and feel my shoulders relax when I see the water pumping out nicely. Within minutes we are roaring through the deep waters and Captain eats his sandwiches while I dry swallow two painkillers and think that my nerves really cannot take much more. We dock with a bang and a thud and with Andrew and the Captain’s help, along with the rickety chair I disembark. Next step? I now need the toilet desperately. Be warned, that is the next blog…


6 thoughts on “Help, we’re sinking…fast

  1. I’m pretty sure I would’ve been as panicky as you Lyn…I too have a fear of drowning. I can swim, but not well and not for long distances. The words technical hitch would’ve had me go into anxiety mode and the Ahh’s and Mmm’s would have me looking for the nearst paper bag to hyperventilate into.

    You’re a much braver soul than I would’ve been. Hope you found the toilet. But you did get some great pics! Thanks for a fun read.


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