It appears far-fetched for contemporary commercial vessels and yachts these days to be boarded by pirates, but it does happen, and often. The only thing that is different is that pirates today don't use flintlock pistols or cutlasses, they carry AK-47s and move across the sea at nearly a mile a minute.
What we particularly don't expect in modern times are cannibals, yet German yachtsman Stefan Ramin, 40, according to his girlfriend, Heike Dorsch, 37, was recently killed and eaten on the Pacific island of Nuku Hiva (130 square miles in size), by the couple's local guide, Henri Haiti.
The couple visited the French Polynesian island in mid-September. Shortly thereafter, Ramin disappeared while he and Haiti were on a goat hunting trip. Reportedly, the guide returned to Dorsch, saying that there had been an accident and he needed to take her to Ramin. This obviously was a ruse, as Haiti later chained Ms. Dorsch to a tree and raped her. Hours later, Dorsch was able to escape and report what happened to her and Ramin to authorities.
COMMENT: As the posting is filed, Haiti is still a fugitive. Stefan, a former business adviser from Haselau in northern Germany, was on a worldwide sailing tour with Heike when they visited Nuku Hiva. Stefan had been missing for well over a week when local police found his remains in a remote valley. Bones, teeth and melted fillings were also found in the campfire ashes.
Nuku Hiva is the largest of the Marquesas Islands. Novelist Herman Melville wrote his book TYPEE based on his experiences in the Taipivai valley in the eastern part of Nuku Hiva. Ironically, Melville claimed he was once captured by a tribe of cannibals on Nuku Hiva. He escaped before they could eat him. TYPEE was Melville's first book and very likely his best (1846). The title, TYPEE, comes from the name of a valley on the island called Tai Pi Vai. For 19th century readers, his career seemed to decline after TYPEE, but MOBY-DICK rekindled his popularity in 1851.
Robert Louis Stevenson's first landfall on his voyage on the Casco, was at Hatiheu, on the north side of Nuku Hiva, in 1888. Nuku Hiva was also the site for Survivor: Marquesas, the fourth installment of the popular CBS reality television show in the US.
Ramin's gruesome ending and Dorsch's terrifying experience at the hands of their guide is a reminder that one's search for adventure should be tempered by caution, healthy suspicion and the need to adequately screen the bona fides of people we deal with in isolated and unpredictable places where there is little protection.