‘We will kill you’: Man’s terrifying encounter with pirates
A NORTH Queensland man has told of his terrifying encounter with Indonesian pirates.
Speaking for the first time, Cannonvale man Tadeusz Nowicki has revealed how pirates violently robbed him in waters off the coast of Sumatra.
It was supposed to be a simple trip to sail his yacht back home to Australia, but in the middle of the night, 10 men armed with guns jumped aboard his vessel. They stole everything: GPS, phone, cash, generators, laptops, emergency food, dingy, even his steering wheel.
"Before midnight, a fishing boat with 10 men arrived at my boat," Nowicki, 70, said.
"For 20 minutes, maybe more, I tried to not allow them to enter my boat. They had ropes that they tied in knots and tried to throw around my head and legs.
"Two people were very, very violent; they looked like they were professional murderers. They warned me, if you will not do what we want, we will kill you. Then I was more quiet and resigned; I was thinking I would like to survive this situation."
Over the course of five hours, under the cover of darkness, the pirates would temporarily leave on their boat to unload before returning back to steal more from the yacht.
"At the end when they left the boat, one man came to me and said 'sorry'," Nowicki said.
After the robbery, Nowicki was scared the pirates would return and felt he needed to leave the area and sail into the open sea, towards Java.
"I escaped into the fog and then went around into the open sea because I fear that they will come back," he said.
For two days at sea, he survived by drinking rainwater he caught and eating coconut oil and raw eggs he had stored on his boat.
"I was afraid to stop and come to any other vessel," he said. "I found a river and a village, when I enter I see in big letters in Indonesian police station and put the anchor down." Nowicki was rescued about 24 hours later after International Maritime Organisation picked up an activated emergency beacon and notified the Australian embassy in Jakarta, who notified water police.
Mysteriously, Nowicki says he didn't set off the EPIRB.
"This beacon wasn't activated by me, after two days the beacon was activated," he said.
"The pirates had taken two of my EPIRBs and I don't know how it was set off; maybe it was children playing with it."
Once rescued, Nowicki spent about three weeks waiting on his broken boat for visa papers that would allow him to return to Australia.
He said he had never considered the possibility of being robbed by pirates in Indonesia.
"I only thought they were in the Philippines," he said.
"I found out now though that in the Philippines that they would kill me, steal everything and then sink the boat so there is no trace.
"It happens very often in the Philippines, so I'm lucky that it was Indonesia and they didn't kill me."
Nowicki said he felt huge relief landing on the tarmac in Melbourne, before going to two-weeks of hotel quarantine and returning to his home.
Weeks on, he said the experience has had a profound impact on his life."The most stressful factors in my life are diminished," he said.
"I don't care as much about money anymore, the most important thing is my life and my family and my health.
"Never resign to fight for your life.
"I never cried, I never even close my eyes when they put the gun twice to my head."
Originally published as 'We will kill you': Man's terrifying encounter with pirates