I’d found myself a spot at the stern next to the big chap who was steering, and Rachel came back and joined us, which was nice. I felt a bit safer with her there, to be honest.
“We keep on this heading for two hours” she said, “then change course during the night.”
I thought it was time to do my journo thing, ask a few probing questions, like.
“What the fuck is going on?”
They laughed, and I suddenly realised who the big guy reminded me of: Brian Blessed. He had the same deep belly laugh and beard.
“Buff, I’d like you to meet Michael” said Rachel.
“Welcome aboard” he said. He seemed a lot more relaxed than a couple of hours earlier, and kept his eyes on the horizon and sail rather than me.
“Are you pirates?” Which to be honest was a stupid question: of course they were pirates.
“Not really” she said. She took the gun off Michael and gave it to me. The moment I held it in my hand I could tell it was fake, lightweight and plastic. A toy.
“I got it in a Palermo toy shop” said Michael. “I was an actor - played Julius Caesar at the Ramallah Play House.”
He leant back and took one hand off the wheel.
“Let me have men about me that are fat” he quoted, looking at me (cheeky!) and laughed again. “Then I became a fisherman, sailing the waters of the Med.”
“But you hijacked this boat?”
“Borrowed” Rachel said. “We wanted something fast, something that would be iconic, something the media couldn’t ignore, something sufficiently valuable to protect us. We are sailors, Ali and I, that’s how we got together, racing Foiling Moths in a reservoir in London, near Heathrow. Truly we wouldn’t want to damage something as amazing as this.”
The sun was setting in the west, directly ahead.
“We are the West-Eastern Yacht Club” she said.
“Isaac named us” she said.
One of the men on the grinders turned and raised a hand, before a command from Ali made him turn back to trim the wing.
“Isaac was a bassoon player for the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, created by Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said to bring Palestinians and Israelis together. But he realised it was changing nothing, just normalising the occupation. We have to act, do something, something together. Isaac and I are Jews, Ali is a Muslim, Michael a Christian and together we can achieve the spectacular.”
Politics; strewth, not my strong point.
“Is there anything to drink?”
“Yes” said Michael. “We should have something to eat before it gets dark.”
“And drink” I said. Let’s get first things first.
To be continued....
(or you can read part 8 here)