Four mariners, sailing among the islands off the Communist Chinese coast, lost their way and so started on a 63-day episode that all of them want to forget, quickly.
Four mariners, sailing among the islands off the Communist Chinese coast, lost their way and so started on a 63-day episode that all of them want to forget, quickly. In charge of the converted lifeboat was Mr. R.P. Brown of the Ajax Engineering Company, with him were three others, including a Chinese fitter.
The vessel was set for Taipo, somehow the crew lost its bearings, sighted an island that had a similar skylines as Taipo and steered towards it. Within 200 yards of the shore the boat ran out of fuel. Dozens of fishing vessels gathered round and offered to tow the crippled launch to a nearby refuge. From the conversations with these fishermen, Brown was still confident that he was in British waters.
By night the flotilla of vessels reached the island. As they drew into the shore, the silhouette of a motor vessel was sighted. The Chinese fishermen started screaming at the shadowy shape. Within minutes armed men boarded Brown's boat and impounded it. At first he wasn't too sure who the boarders were. He thought they might be pirates, they weren't wearing uniforms. After twenty minutes towing the armed vessel and Brown's converted lifeboat came into a harbour. Brown and his colleagues soon found that they were in Communist hands. That was August 22. They were not released until October 24.
Almost as soon as the arrested quartet put their feet ashore interrogations started. Brown is now back at his Hong Kong home, mentally tired, and his vessel is tied up in a quay in the colony. For Brown's version of the story our reporter went to see him....