John MacMillan, John W. MacMillan, author, Book, Eva MacMillan, The Y of It, The "Y" of It


With just the three of us actively participating, and with calm seas, we each took three-hour shifts. As luck would have it, I drew the midnight to 3 AM shift. It was not bad at all; the sea was calm with gentle rollers and no wind, so we motored along at 5 and a half knots. With the sails stowed and the night black with heavy moisture, the weather left one expecting fog at any moment. Turning the radio on low, I listened to Lynda Ronstadt singing "Blue Bayou," and my mind drifted back to memories of "Affairs of the Heart" I had known over the years.

Blue Bayou - Linda Ronstadt

Jim, a slow riser, had wanted me to wake him at 2 AM so that he could make coffee and get himself together. At the requested time I quickly slipped below and gave him a shake. Not long after, he turned on cabin lights and made himself a coffee and a sandwich. A little while later, reasonably awake by then, he switched off the lights and was just about to start up through the hatch, planning to come to sit with me for a while before I went below.

Just then I heard a roar of engines. Quickly we glanced to our rear starboard side in the direction of the noise. It was pitch dark, and there was nothing to be seen, no running lights, just an overwhelming sound of large engines.

Suddenly a powerful searchlight was blinding us, just as Jim was coming out of the hatchway, "What the heck? Who the hell is this?"

Turning on our small portable searchlight, I replied, "I don't know, could be the Coast Guard?" I suggested.

Our modest searchlight barely illuminated a high-speed, yellow hulled vessel whose own powerful searchlight now held us captive in its glare.

"Jim, it's not the Coast Guard! Something's wrong! GET THE GUN!" I yelled. Jim ducked below and turned on all the interior lights, hollering to wake up the crew. My mind was racing. This approach was so against international rules…you do not approach another vessel close on the high seas without permission, and especially at night!

They were only twenty feet from us, and they were side-slipping their approach fast. The fellow in the bow was poking his head out of the hatch, and the one in the back was flipping up a tarp. I could see the helmsmen; they were all wearing battle fatigues! I hunkered down behind the steering pedestal just in time to see Jim once again poke his head out of the hatch and realize that these guys planned to board us and now they were only 10 feet away.

"Jesus!" he yelled, "PIRATES!" He quickly tossed me the only gun on board. Noticing the fellow in the back was bringing out what appeared to be a rifle stock, I cocked the 38 and pointed it squarely at the driver's head, shouting, "STANDOFF, ANY CLOSER WILL BE CONSIDERED SERIOUS JEOPARDY!" Please don't ask me where I got that statement from, it was spontaneous, and I am unlikely to ever forget it.

Looking right down the sight of the four-inch barrel of our handgun, I cocked the trigger and I could see the eyes of the helmsman widen, and as my finger started to put pressure on the now very sensitive trigger, he wrenched his wheel hard to starboard and gunned the throttle, sending the vessel out into the cover of darkness. I could no longer see them, but I could hear their engines. They were still out there, thinking.