We met Bob while inspecting a trimaran called Mustang. He is 72 years old but he always jumps up and down as vigorous and agile as a goat. Maybe thanks to the goat milk he’s drinking everyday. He is also very talkative. There must be many interesting stories to share when people live in to their seventies, not to mention that he is a restless sailor.

Every time we visited him, we never came back on time, because most of the time we were listening to his thrilling adventure stories. He almost died a few times. The most dangerous one was once he was sailing at night and hit by a cargo ship charging at full speed. He saw the ship earlier and it looked quite distant so he went back into the cabin. A few minutes later he came out and only found a giant iron wall in front of him. He said he had a memory void after the moment the boat was hit. Later he found himself in a corner of the cabin. Years after this he kept thinking how did he manage to avoid all sorts of stuff that could have hit him and still go through the small cabin door, then find himself in that tiny corner which was normally difficult to enter? It was truly a miracle that he survived! After discovering that he was not dead, he quickly got out of the cabin where water kept coming in, he jumped into his rubber dinghy and tried to row it to the shore. He only had time to grab a bag of biscuits to take with him. He felt colder and colder and almost got hypothermia. If he stopped rowing the dinghy started drifting back into the deep sea so he couldn’t stop rowing for 7 hours. Fortunately, he rowed himself to shore at dawn, nearly drowned in the large surf, was helped ashore by some fishermen and was taken to hospital. The moment he’s ashore, he swore he would never sail again, but it didn’t take long for him to feel the itch again and get another boat to start sailing alone.

He used to have a big block of bush land in the forest, where he lived an alternative life, enjoying wilderness and nature, but one Christmas when he was away visiting his parents, a lunatic lit a fire and burned his bush, destroying many trees and facilities… Why there are so many psychos in this country that are so keen to set fire is really puzzling.

Bob also talked about his ability to receive some special information after he had the ship collision accident (gets less and less now), just like a radio was tuned into a special frequency band (it reminds me of a theory that there’s a radio wave layer outside earth that can store human brain waves). For example, he once felt his Thai girlfriend was crying, and it was confirmed by calling her; he once foresaw that someone would call him the next day after reading his newspaper advertisement, told his mother about his premonition, and it happened the next day just as he’d told her; he heard someone calling for help while being buried alive, and he learned of a murder story at the same property a few years later; he even felt that we had a discussion one night whether we would take Mustang… (It became true later, and it made me get goose bumps). Bob said he had a friend who nearly died in a construction accident, who also got messages. Once Bob was in this friend’s car. His friend pulled over for no reason. Not long after, a car running full speed but wrong way came from the one-way road they were going to take. If his friend didn’t stop, they would have been dead. Afterwards, his friend told him he had received the “information” in time… All these stories didn’t shake my scepticism about the supernatural, but I can’t be too certain on these things I could never feel while someone else could, so just keep them unexplained for now. Bob is not religious, but he agreed with Buddhism’s philosophy and attitude of life. He showed me a documentary about Buddha while he was preparing a super healthy fish and avocado lunch for us. (he is a serious healthy eater). It said that Buddhism advocates that we are totally responsible for what we do. I said this is somewhat similar to existentialism… Bob is a handyman who insists on doing everything to it’s perfection, and he believes that if everyone does things without harming others, the world will be peaceful. That’s what he learnt from Buddhism.

Interestingly, Bob reminds me of a friend, they have some similarities at appearance. They are both skinny, bald, pointed nose, and sometimes had their chin drawn inward when talking. They are both very chatty, both had serious accidents and almost died… sometimes I felt my friend was sitting in front of me instead of Bob. But there is a world of difference between them. One is as agile as a goat, the other suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and not walking well; One only eats seafood as meat while the other hates eating fish; One embraces new technology, and the other refuses to use mobile phones; One talks about spirituality, but the other is a firm guardian of atheism or antitheism… It’s like the same person has gone into two extremes in parallel universes. But both of them are sincere people. They are lovely old boys with some old school manners.