As darkness falls, Magnus Reslow clings to his last hope – a homemade Molotov cocktail. The Swede from Malmö is determined to do anything. He wants to defend his boat against the pirates and, above all, his life. The single-handed sailor’s upper body is covered in bruises and wounds, his rib hurts where one of the attackers tried to ram a bread knife into his body. His knees are scraped, his skull is pounding. The attackers had beaten him with wooden slats.
They tore out sails, batteries, fenders, blocks, tools, spare parts, even cables, says Reslow, and they also packed up his oilskins; they even took his used underpants. Naturally, all the valuables were on board too, even if Reslow only had a few of them. The Swede has lived on boats for 30 years. And with a minimal budget. A sea nomad on a decrepit boat that hardly anyone wanted to sail out to sea in.
Pirates board coffin ship
Solid Swedish shipyard construction, long keel, tiller steering. In the meantime, she is getting on in years, more the type of soul seller than a chic white yacht. Anyone who sees the boat should actually know that there is little to be gained there. Nevertheless, it did not stop pirates from attacking the Swede. And three times on the same day.
Reslow is on the verge of delirium when he builds the Molotov cocktail. Next to the bottle of gasoline and the piece of cloth in his neck, he places his hammer, which he used to fend off the last attack. He hasn’t had anything to drink for hours, the sun burns mercilessly from the sky and his whole body aches. He can hardly move. Reslow doesn’t know where all the blows have hit him. He is traumatized. And dehydrated.
Behind the sailor lie the worst hours of his eventful life at sea. He feared for his life for hours – and finally fought. Now he sinks down exhausted in the chaos. And dozes off. Meanwhile, his dhokus is drifting off the coast of Colombia without sails and with a defective engine. And then he hears it again: engine noise. As if in a frenzy, Reslow grabs his Molotov cocktail and goes on deck. Ready to defend himself and his boat. Whatever the cost.
Navigate by school atlas
It is December 29, the day that will change Magnus Reslow’s life. The day before, Reslow set off from Santa Marta, a port city in Colombia. His destination: the island archipelago of San Blas off the coast of Panama. The World ARC stops here in mid-January. Reslow had been anchored in the swell off Santa Marta for weeks; he couldn’t afford the marina. He has to make ends meet on 230 US dollars a month. That’s enough for him to survive, he says. But no more than that. His boat, in which he sailed from Sweden to the Caribbean, looks like this.
It took Reslow 88 days to cross the Atlantic from the Canary Islands in the summer of 2022. Single-handed and with tiller steering. No autopilot, no wind vane, but a defective engine. Reslow shrugs his shoulders and smiles mischievously. The Dhokus is simply a sailing boat. And 50 or 60 years ago, sailors sailed across the Atlantic without help.
When he gets tired, he pulls in the sails and lets himself drift, he says. The only electronic navigation aid on board is a GPS. Otherwise, Reslow determines his course using an old school atlas. And with a sextant.
Help from home
When, after 40 days at sea, there is still no sign of life from him, friends in Sweden call in the authorities. You are worried. Reslow, an online site where people can report incidents at sea, is being searched for via boatwatch.org. Sailors who see him should please get in touch.
Reslow got into a doldrums on the way to Trinidad. His plan was to leave the Canary Islands in August, sail south along the coast of Africa and then sail south of the hurricane belt across the Atlantic. And indeed, one day Trinidad appears on the horizon. But the planned landfall fails to materialize. The calm prevails again and the strong equatorial current pulls it past Trinidad.