Magnus Reslow’s eyes are watery. He struggles for words, but can hardly find them. Like a few days ago, when the Swede reported on the attack off the coast of Colombia. On December 29, 2023, pirates came aboard his aging “Dhokus”, a Laurin32, three times, on which the Swede had sailed from Europe to the Caribbean Sea to live his dream of freedom and independence.
The pirates beat him black and blue with sticks, attacked him with a bread knife, tried to tow his boat to the shore and stole everything that wasn’t nailed down. Sails, boat batteries, tools, spare parts, cables, blocks, ropes, even his used underwear. The 64-year-old was eventually rescued by the coastguard and towed to the marina in Santa Marta.
When Reslow crawled back on board after a day in hospital, he only really realized the extent of the attack. The pirates had stolen almost all his belongings. And thus robbed him of his livelihood. How should things continue?
New courage to face life?
Reslow has lived on boats for 30 years. And with a minimal budget of 230 US dollars a month. The trained sailmaker sews biminis, sprayhoods, tarpaulins and covers for sailors for a living. But his sewing machine had already been stolen from the ship in November when Reslow was anchored in the bay off Santa Marta in Colombia. Now, after the pirate attack on the open sea, Reslow is not only ruined, but also traumatized.
He speaks openly about the fear he has and what it has done to him. He is a different person now, he says. But he would not allow the pirates to rob him of his courage and confidence. He has to work on that.
Reslow still seems paralyzed when he looks at the sea, which he loves so much. A life on land is unimaginable for him. But he is neither physically nor mentally able to continue sailing, nor is his boat fit for use. Too much was stolen.
Plundered and alone
“Where am I supposed to go?” asks Reslow. He wants to leave Colombia as soon as possible, heading for the San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama. “Living a bit like Robinson,” says Reslow, forcing a smile. But how is he supposed to get there? On these first days of the new year, Reslow seems resigned. His courage to face life has disappeared, his thirst for adventure has been beaten out of him. Strong medication alleviates the physical pain, but there are no pills for the mental anguish.
As the international sailing community celebrates the New Year in the Santa Marta marina, Reslow sits alone on his plundered boat, which has been moored at the jetty by the coast guard. Reslow can hardly move because of the pain.
The wind is blowing fiercely that evening, shaking the dhokus and throwing them against the jetty again and again without protection. Because the fenders were also stolen. Every rumble was a pain in Reslow’s ribs, where the attackers tried to plunge a bread knife into his body.
The crew of the German Amel “Paradise”, which is moored not far from the same jetty, brought Reslow painkillers, something to eat and a fender. They are the first to learn of Reslow’s fate. On New Year’s Eve, they tell what happened to the Swede. Most sailors are shocked.
Pirate attacks are every long-distance sailor’s nightmare. And most of them want to take the route that Reslow has already taken. The next morning, the crew of the “Paradise” launched an appeal in the WhatsApp group “Santa Marta Cruisers” to support Reslow. They briefly explain what Reslow has reported and ask for painkillers, food, tools, fenders, reading glasses and needles to repair his old sails, which are still on board.
Reslow is overwhelmed by the willingness to help. More and more helping hands come on board to repair his boat. Old spare parts change hands and find new uses. A Danish sailor gives him an old cell phone so that Reslow can contact Sweden, where a friend helps him communicate with his bank and the authorities. Another sailor sets it up for him and creates an e-mail address for him.
The marina allows Reslow to lie in the sheltered harbor for two weeks free of charge so that he can recover from the pirate attack. The captain of a Colombian day-trip boat gives Reslow an old kayak to row ashore when he is at anchor. “All the support gives me strength,” says Reslow, “especially mentally.” Not only the wounds on his body heal slowly, but also his psyche.