They're No Pirates of the Caribbean

I must go down to the sea again,
To the lonely sea and sky.
And all I ask is a tall ship
And a star to steer her by.

If poet John Masefield (1878-1967) were still around and writing these days he'd probably modify his "Sea Fever" to reflect the realities of what's going on in the Indian Ocean.

I can't do down to the sea again,
Especially off Somalia.
Thar be pirates there, and I fear
They're not there to entertain ya.

The east coast of Africa, particularly off lawless Somalia, has become a hotbed of piracy, with crews armed and led by Somalian warlords who have latched on to automatic weapons and shoulder-launched grenade and missile launchers. The other day a cruise ship owned by a subsidiary of Carnival Cruise Lines was attacked by two pirate ships but managed to turn tail and outrun them, thus keeping the 302 passengers from harm. Several cargo ships were hijacked just hours later, bringing to five the number of ships taken over in just the past four weeks.

The cruise ship attack certainly wasn't all business. Passengers say some of the pirates grinned as they aimed weapons at the deck and staterooms.

Andrew Mwangura, the co-ordinator of Seafarers Assistance Programme, a non-governmental organization focusing on shipping, urged the United Nations to impose an embargo on export of charcoal from Somalia. He said the warlords raised the money to buy arms by exporting 60,000 metric tons of charcoal to some foreign countries.

Much as we love to travel, the general unrest in the world -- the spreading French riots, the hideous weather, the pirates of the Caribbean and elsewhere -- this is a good time to stay closer to home.

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