40 Hours Lost at Sea

A story I wrote in Bangkok about two Bangladeshi sailors forced to jump ship in the middle of a wicked storm off the coast of Phuket in 2013 has just gone up on the Reader’s Digest website.

Mobarak Hossain and Raeq Fairooz, both in their 20s, survived two days floating in the Andaman Sea amid four-metre waves. The piece is a Reader’s Digest “Drama in Real Life” feature, and it’s a harrowing tale. Mobarak and Raeq spent hours on the phone with me—Mobarak from ports of call across the Persian Gulf (we were sometimes interrupted by the call to prayer)—explaining how they got through the ordeal, which included discovering the bodies of fellow crew mates on the rough waters, and the constant threat of shark attack.

Want to thank Montreal artist Steven P. Hughes for his amazing illustrations. Also a few people I consulted in my reporting, but who we did not have space to mention in the piece: Capt. Mohiuddin Abdul Kadir, the CEO of Interport Maritime Limited, which insured Mobarak and Raeq’s ship, the M.V. Hope, and who gave me important background on the accident; Capt. Richard Dunham, an instructor at the Australian Maritime College, in Tasmania, who talked me through the ins and outs of high-seas rescue operations; Dr. Michael Jacobs, co-author of A Comprehensive Guide to Marine Medicine, who explained what 40 hours in stormy seas will do to the human body; and Michael de Min, of Mike’s Fishing Adventures, located on Havelock Island in the Andaman Islands, who described the dangers associated with the waters off the Thai coast.

I also got to work with Ying Panyapon, the excellent Bangkok-based fixer and interpreter, who tackled the hard problem of persuading the Royal Thai Navy to speak to us about its part in responding to the M.V. Hope disaster.

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