So this was the plan: rent a fishing boat from a friend of a friend’s friend. At the Northern most tip of Borneo. Then drive it around at 8 knots to all of the surrounding islands, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia. We’d save money on accomodation, diesel is cheap, and we’d be fully independent. It was a plan devised on Balak, where we weren’t allowed to drive any boats, where going to islands was part of the norm, and independence was a memory of a strange feeling. The idea actually formed when I had a quick go at driving the ‘big boat’ for about five minutes one day – the feeling of control mingled into the excitement about doing the forbidden.
After we left Balak, I actually got as far as test driving two boats – both equally wooden and pretty much what you’d expect to get if you nailed some planks together and slapped a dirty underpowered diesel engine in it. ‘Basic’ really doesn’t do the simplicity of th craft justice, but heck, we’d just lived with no running water for 9 weeks. It was all systems go, save for checking the owner’s fishing licence could be stretched to allowing two English hooligans to terrorise the seven seas with it. We had the plan of not fishing much, but using the big iceboxes to hold lager and hotdogs – things that were in short supply on the island. Perhaps a few Philippino brides to do the cleaning and cooking too.
We agreed a date and a price, and as marine conservationists, we were pleased to note that us hiring the boat would prevent the owner from destroying reefs and bending compressor divers – his crew were pursuing the very activities we had seen cause so much damage on the reefs (reeves?) around our island. But then the authorities got in the way – apparently fishing in zones 1 and 2 is viewed as a very different activity to getting drunk and drunk-sailing to islands to light fires and chop trees down. Our only choice now would be to buy our own boat. Fishing boats come in at about 9000 GBP, so we figured it wasn’t really going to happen in the short term.
This is why I’m on Ko Samui, renting motorbikes and getting into trouble with ladygirls (as opposed to ladyboys) rather than tooling round on a wooden death trap.