A couple’s adventurous sea journey turned into a nightmare as they were marooned alone on a tiny sand island halfway to Indonesia when they were approached at night by three ‘suspicious’ men in an area known for pirates.
Jack Strickland and Francesca Pusceddu who run Back 2 Basics Adventures YouTube channel sailed out from Western Australia this week in search of ‘pristine waters and a sense of peace that comes with being away from society’.
Their destination was a sand cay atop a reef near the midway point between the WA coast and the Indonesian island of Sumba.
However en route their small boat Salty Dingo, which was being towed behind a larger vessel, sustained large cracks down one side, leaving Mr Strickland ‘starting to wonder if this was such a good idea’.
‘Smashed boat and a long way from home,’ Mr Strickland wrote on Facebook on Tuesday.
‘We hitch-hiked a ride and towed (our boat) the Salty Dingo half way to Indonesia in search of a tiny sand cay in the middle of the ocean.’
Jack Strickland and Francesca Pusceddu (pictured) sailed out from WA this week
During their 30-hour trip through rough seas their fiberglass boat’s gunwale – the upper planking on the side of the ship – developed a huge crack and they were taking on water.
‘The idea was that this would be our base camp for a couple of weeks until we could hitch-hike a ride home.’
‘But we might’ve bitten off more than we could chew with this adventure.’
After nervously navigating through the dangerously shallow coral reef to get to the island – a strip of sand no longer than a couple of hundreds metres – the pair set up camp just before sunset.
The couple’s destination was a tiny sand cay (pictured) in the ocean between Australia and Indonesia to find ‘pristine waters and peace that comes with being away from society’
The small sand cay is off the Australian coast halfway to Indonesia (pictured)
But their problems grew as the shadowy outlines of strangers appeared on the island after night fell.
Jack armed himself with a knife and approached the trio, while Francesca went back to the boat and hid with an emergency beacon at hand.
Indonesia is well known for piracy, with a Forbes article in 2013 noting the region had overtaken waters off the coast of Somalia to ‘claim the dubious honour of the most pirate attacks in the world’.
Of the 297 pirate attacks in 2012, 81 were in Indonesian waters.
‘Three figures have pulled in on the beach down the other side of the sand cay and are slowly walking this way,’ a nervous Mr Strickland said as he filmed himself on the sand.
‘They’re constantly stopping and the way they’re acting is quite suspicious.’
‘We’re just going to see how this plays out.
‘We’re feeling incredibly vulnerable at this moment.
‘I was always taught never to bring a knife to a fight unless you were prepared to use it and always be prepared to defend yourself if needed.’
Mr Strickland went down the beach armed with a knife to confront the figures who turned out to be Indonesian fishermen (pictured)
Mr Strickland then walks down the beach to meet the three figures reasoning it would be best to have ‘the confrontation’ away from the campsite.
‘Hello mister. You’re from Indonesia?’ he asks one of the figures.
The men did not speak English, but when they replied ‘trepang’, Mr Strickland’s mind was put at ease.
Trepang in the local word for a type of sea cucumber, and it was apparent the trio were fishermen rather than pirates and likely posed no threat.
‘Good, good,’ Mr Strickland replies.
After the men leave, Mr Strickland then goes back to the campsite to meet up with Ms Pusceddu.
‘We’ve managed to calm ourselves down but the adrenaline was pumping there for a bit.’
The couple were rattled after the encounter but ‘had calmed down’ (pictured)
‘There was three shadows that arrived at sunset, we had no idea who they were or where they were from and piracy in this area is a potential risk, so we had to be cautious.’
‘But I’ve put the machete away as thankfully the visitors were Indonesian fishermen… but it was touch and go there for a while.’
‘Hopefully things go smoother for the rest of the trip,’ Mr Strickland said.
‘They can’t get any worse,’ Ms Pusceddu added.
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