When we sat down to dinner last night and someone opened the curtains, we gave a little cheer. Those curtains have been tightly closed for the last few nights and the ship almost completely blacked out during darkness, because we've been sailing through a High Risk Area for Piracy.
It's hard to imagine that these beautiful seas could be anything but benign, but for the last few days, our awareness has been raised and the threat taken very seriously indeed.
So a team of security specialists have been on duty, patrolling the deck and keeping a lookout for anything, even though, as far as we could see, there was nothing on the horizon.
The outside decks have been carefully monitored and some closed to us for part of the day, just in case. In addition, before leaving Sri Lanka, we had a practice drill, just to make sure we all knew what to do in case of that awful eventuality, in which circumstances the ships crew would take evasive action to ensure the safety of everyone on board. They didn't go into detail but from our previous experience, we were confident they had everything in hand, including the latest technology which would deter anyone from trying to come aboard.
But in making sure all the tech is up to date, one shouldn't neglect the low tech, tried and tested precautions too. As we arrived in Victoria, a long time centre for pirate acitivity (as recently as last year) the other day, we had fun doing a little dummy spotting.
Many of the ships sailing in this area employ the basic deterrent of having a few dummy guards on duty, 24/7. I guess once out at sea, it's hard to tell if these "weapon" toting figures are real or not and perhaps not something one wants to check at close quarters, just in case.
We have our own dummy up there on an open deck too - actually, one of a team, but since this chap was easily spotted from the gangplank, I chose to feature him rather than a more precariously placed colleague. Just one precaution in a strategic plan, which thankfully, was not needed this time.
However, in spite of all those plans, we appear to have acquired one non-paying passenger who has been on board for the last 18 hours or more. He (she?) is a red footed booby, wisely taking a ride in pole position rather than fly over the Indian Ocean. It seems the ship's dining options are not exactly to his/her liking though, so short fishing trips into the water are needed, but that perch at the helm of the ship seems to be just the place where he/she is choosing to return to for now.
As a result, this morning, booby-watching is far more popular than mini-golf.