The Perils of Public Transport – man overboard

Longtail boat on Chieow Laan Lake, Thailand

The case of the BOAT – Thailand

You may have read about our adventures in a bird watching boat in Cambodia, but it was on a boat from Krabi to Koh Lanta in Thailand where we really had that sinking feeling. We had just survived a hair-raising journey in the back of a pick up truck, and were now herded onto a water taxi for a 2 hour crossing to the island.

The boat was crammed full of locals and tourists alike, the captain clearly getting his monies-worth and flaunting any safety rules which may or may not have been in place. Still, when in Rome and all that… We chose to sit up on the roof, which although more like a hot plate in the intense mid-day heat, was preferable to being jammed below like sardines in a hot tin can. I’d swap stuffiness and sweat for sun burn and views any day.

About an hour into the journey, the boat began listing alarmingly to one side and the captain came up on deck to make us all move and sit on the other side to balance out the boat. Everyone complied, but it didn’t seem to make much difference.

Minutes later, with the boat now firmly at several degrees less than upright, the captain came up again, this time yelling at us to get down below to help settle the vessel. No-one moved. There was no way we were going below deck in a boat that seemed about to sink. That would be pure folly. He began screaming at people to move, and even tried to man-handle a few unfortunates within reach.

Just as I was wondering who was actually steering the boat, a chap clad only in denim shorts and a pony tail, a veteran ex-pat by the looks of him, decided he’d had enough. There wasn’t much of a splash as he jumped overboard, but it caused a stir on board as people rushed to the side to see if he’d surface. The captain screamed again and the passengers dutifully crawled back across the roof. Perhaps the spontaneous swimmer had the right idea. I wandered how far it was to shore.

Luckily another boat was passing and soon picked the bloke up, none the worse for his adventure, and after that, our boat managed to limp the final hour to shore, where relieved passengers piled out to kiss the ground. The captain then began loading the boat again with people travelling back to the mainland, no doubt to repeat the same experience on the return journey.

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