Careful where you swing that sail.
Yes, we can start with the obvious: the desert is a vast place, filled with vast people doing vast things like herding goats around. That’s not such a bad thing, mind you – they are damn tasty on occasion, and can keep you warm and steamy at night when the sun goes down and the herd is milling about just outside your mud hut. Take one in, get a-shakin’, and then the next mornin’ you’re on your way again, with one goat walking a little funny.
Of course it’s all fun that way, praying to whatever folks you be-leave in and moving the livestock all ’round the flatlands, bashing the bushes for a few extra coins here and there. Actually, quite Anne Frankly, the life sucks – you occasionally stop into some ditch-dive town of dirt herders and see a tee-vee and what do you see? Some dudes in flash cars and fat black guys in someplace called the Oosa eating more and more and more of those “boorgurs” as they call them. And then you stare at that dozen goats, your crusty man-dress that you haven’t had a chance to wash in a few months, and think “I gots ta get something better than all this”.
So, you look to the sea. Oddly enough you ain’t ever eaten fish, certainly not the swimming sea-going type, having goats all at your bidding for your entire life. But there is this vast thing on the horizon, a big blue undulating mass, beckoning you. You can stick some wood in it and get happiness – which is sort of similar to a goat, but just a little more complex.
Yeah, your buddies are looking out o’er the horizon with their boats and they talk about meeting these things called “da Flench” out there, and avoiding something called the “Neigh-Vee”, which you think is what one of your goats uttered once during those heady nights in the mud hut. But then one of your clan-membery types hands you a Kalashnikov of a rusted disposition, says get in the boat, and hang on. You bid goodbye to your goats, having given them to a random boy, knowing that you can probably track him down and butcher him if he strays too far. Hey, this sea thing might just work out!
Indeed, you have to learn quick – the speedboats are fast, but it ends up being a lifestyle much like that of a goat-herder – aside from the seasickness. Stuck for days or weeks on a rickety motorized piece of wood, punctuated by a half hour of absolute pandemonium as you spot some topless beached whale Europeans on the horizon, their sails billowing in the Indian Ocean wind, among other things billowing. You get your weapon ready to fire, but one of the more experienced types tells you not to pull the trigger as the thing might explode. Crappy weapons suck like that.
At this point, if they don’t shoot back, you just board and give all those poor white bastards a shit-eating grin, ask them about “hammbooorgers” back home in the Oosa and point your Kalashnikov all menacing-like at them and forget about the fact that it can’t fire. Then after a few days of that, as well as dodging the navy, you might get to make the ransom demands to whomever is doing the ransoming that week.
Indeed, the entrepreneurial bent of the entire exercise seems close to the goat-market, dragging the pasty white animals ashore and hawking them off to the highest bidder; and even though you only get a sliver of the whole take-home, it turns out that it’s way more than your dozen goats is worth. You re-appear on the coast a few hundred miles away from your herd and it doesn’t matter, really, as you get a few bundles of shillings that you can use for some more of that grean-leaf chewing gum that you’re certain is what everyone over on the other side of the world chews too. Spearmint, right?
But then I’m not so stupid to assume you’re one of the skinnies and don’t really give two shits about their socioeconomic situation, their aspirations for riches, and all that. Hell, them folks getting near your big-ass tanker or fancy yacht with their busted up AKs and RPGs isn’t an attractive proposition at all, you know, and the way they spin like mutherfuckers in the ocean with all their fuel, even if they don’t board they’re like a massive fuel bomb about to go off. You hit the wrong side of that rickety old thing with your guns and blammo, the whole thing can send shrapnel and goat-herder pieces all over the side of your recently painted hull. That’s no good, that’s not attractive. What are the folks at the Golf Club in Durban going to think when they see that massive black scar? Entirely unbecoming of a person of your stature.
And sure you’ll say “insurance” doesn’t allow you to carry weapons, just huddle down and pray they don’t shoot you or rape you, or both. And hey don’t delete all the porn off the laptop while you’re down below decks, that took me years to get! You may think it’s just okay to play along, hell you’re insured and all, but it’s just not very cool to let these dudes board your ship.
Therefore, while it may be more expensive, hiring a few crusty old PMC types who like a-shootin’ is a good idea when you’re sailing from Masawa to Mombasa. The guys are retired but their trigger fingers are still itchy, they remember the good old days of Mog ’93, and no, that wasn’t a sporting event. Then again, some might disagree. So you hire the dudes and tell them to shoot anything on sight, drop them off in Mombasa, and continue down your way to high tea down near the Drakensbergs like nuthin’ ever happened. Makes perfect sense and all – pacifism is for people on the Pacific, fuck that shit.
On the other hand if you happen to be El Capitaine of a big-ass oil-barrelled vessel sailing south, you have bigger problems at hand. We all know the bean counters out at the headquarters of Transport Corp X don’t want all the bad publicity of the PMC types giving their PR guys overtime, and thus you’re basically a sitting duck floating along the ocean as the pirating types try and do their thing. Even worse is that you just know some of their “Diaspora” in Minneapolis, Toronto, or London are calling their buddies in Boosasso and giving up your coordinates. And while them goat herders aren’t the best at math, they can still fuck up a trigonometric function with the best of ’em and figure out your trajectory pretty good-like. And then you gots real problems – because then there’s no vigilantism involved, it’s all up to the insurance broker down on Fenchurch Street and he doesn’t see a name of a fat guy with a family, he sees an Excel sheet. “Oh shit” is, therefore, an apt response on your behalf.
Though now with the navies of a few nations patrolling, your chances of getting mixed up in the kidnapping mess are severely reduced – yet when the speed boat’s a-speedin’ towards your hull like it’s Al-Qaeda or something you are already too late. But there’s one good thing about big bureaucratic corporations – it’s a don’t-ask-don’t-tell mentality. So what if you hired a few ex-Rhodies to keep you in the clear? You can add that time-honoured entry onto your balance sheet “Technical Expenses”, a credit with a few zero’s, and again drop them off at the next Kenyan docks. Indiscretions be damned and all that.
Finally you could always consider the Steven Seagal method of hiring a “cook” who, well, knows how to do more than just cook. Or go all Chow Yun-Fat on their asses and just do the dirty deed yourself when they board – there are plenty of movies that can act as great instructional videos in this respect.
But if you’re like that poor goat-herder-come-sailing-entrepreneur who is watching some white guy shoot back, well shit, this just isn’t fun anymore. They always say that only ten percent of fledgling ventures survive into the second year, and with the creative help of sailing folks who take extra precautions, that number could decrease drastically for desert people whom live along certain straits of the world’s waterways.