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Wednesday September 1, 2010

One man and his dinghy

Now it’s true that the behaviour of holidaying Britons can often raise a few eyebrows among the locals but the latest aquatic antics of 20 year-old Zirian Kamarin Tahiri who attempted to row from Minorca to Majorca in a stolen dinghy, have been the talk of my rural town of Soller.

Having consumed a hefty quantity of alcohol at a seaside bar in Ciutadella in the west of Minorca, the inebriated Briton stole a dinghy moored near by and set sail on his Mediterranean adventure in the naïve belief that he would soon reach the island of Majorca approximately 30 miles away. Of course he didn’t. Instead, addled by sun and liquor, he spent 24 hours drifting in the sea before being spotted by a fisherman who reported him to coastguards. It’s a miracle that he survived his ordeal especially as conditions were precarious and he was heading straight for the Spanish mainland in strong winds.

It got me wondering about misadventures on the water, more specifically my own. Undoubtedly the most memorable was when on a scientific expedition to visit the Amerindian Wai Wai tribe in deepest Guyana with the veteran explorer, Colonel Blashford-Snell, we found ourselves in piranha infested waters, literally up a creek without a paddle. In his haste to get our carved-out canoe on the water, one of the tribesmen had inadvertently mixed gasoline and water in the engine’s small tank so that while coursing along a tributary of the Essequibo river, the engine failed. It was at that point as we drifted helplessly along on a fast current that we realised no paddle was on board. There were five of us on the boat and after some minutes an enterprising chap, happily a carpenter by trade, volunteered to jump into the water and swim to shore whereupon he began fashioning a pair of oars out of a tree branch. Following his lead the rest of us plunged into the river and managed to haul the boat ashore. A few hours later with two spanking new oars we were back in business.

Of course, Mr Tahiri’s little escapade in the Mediterranean Sea was no less adventurous but perhaps had a less triumphant outcome. As soon as he was escorted back to dry land he was promptly arrested and put in prison, pending an appearance before the magistrate.

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