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Hostage - By Paul & Rachel Chandler

By Sue Richards last modified Sep 21, 2011 03:53 PM

Published: 2011-09-21 15:53:08
Topics: Piracy & Security

Hostage by Paul and Rachel Chandler with Sarah Edworthy
Published by
ISBN 978-1-84596-795-6
Reviewed by Jimmy Cornell for noonsite

Paul and Rachel Chandler’s yacht Lynn Rival was attacked by Somali pirates in October 2009 in the South Indian Ocean in an area which up to then had been considered to be safe.

I was halfway through the gripping account of their thirteen months long ordeal when news broke of the attack by Somali pirates on the French yacht Tribal Kat, the tragic death of skipper Christian Colombo and the miraculous escape of his wife Evelyne. My first reaction cannot have been different to that of any sailor, when I asked myself how was it possible for someone to risk their lives by sailing through such a critical area where other sailors had lost their lives recently. Similar comments were made at the time of the Chandlers’ abduction but their book makes it absolutely clear that there is no comparison, as in their case they were still in Seychelles waters and far from any area of known risk.

Demanding a huge ransom of several million dollars for their release, the pirates took them to Somalia where Paul and Rachel had to endure cruel treatment from their captors who refused to believe that their families could never meet their exaggerated demands. Their life in captivity is vividly described, often from different angles when they were forcefully separated. They were constantly on the move, never spending more than a few days in the same place to avoid detection, and were constantly threatened to be killed if the ransom was not paid.

Back in England, their families were doing all they could to help but were seriously hindered by the fact that the UK government does not tolerate ransom payments, and so had to limit their efforts to private channels. Fortunately their cause was taken up by the Somali community living in UK, whose leaders were enraged by their compatriots’ behaviour. Unbeknown to both the Chandlers and their families, it was those efforts and behind the scenes negotiations that finally led to them to being freed.

This is a deeply moving story of stoicism, pride and resilience with a happy ending worthy of a Hollywood film. Not only did the heroes regain their freedom, but their trusted Lynn Rival - which had been saved by the Royal Navy and brought back to England - was waiting for them on their arrival.

Undeterred, Paul and Rachel are now busy preparing to resume their so rudely interrupted world voyage.