Having been locked up for six months in Eritrea, in the horn of Africa, the British seaman was suddenly released in June, as previously reported by The Phuket News, and is now back sailing Southeast Asian seas with a whole new outlook on life.
Adrian, based in Phuket, is a very positive and personable man who has always been full of life; an adventurer who has travelled across the globe working as a pearl diver and pearl boat skipper in Australia, Myanmar and Phuket, the last of which he now considers his second home. It was when he took a temporary position for a ‘Private Security Company’ that his dark story began.
“I took on a temporary position as a captain last year for a security company operating in the Red Sea. I did this while waiting for one of my contracted vessels to finish a refit in Phuket.
“Four days after joining the vessel Sea Scorpion I was detained in Eritrea with three other crew members.”
He was skippering for Protection Vessel International (PVI), a company supposedly working to protect vessels against piracy, but the mission came to a quick halt after weapons illegally stashed by PVI weapons were found on Romiya Island by local authorities. Mr Troy was arrested in Massawa, Eritrea.
While incarcerated, he was denied consulate access, so it was difficult for anyone to know the true conditions that he faced inside the prison. In the days that followed, Adrian took solace from the only personal item he was allowed, a small Buddha statue.
“I was given my first Buddha in exchange for a pearl I had on. I used this wooden Buddha as my focus and it gave me a lot of inspiration.
“I never asked or pleaded for anything, but talked to the Buddha as a calming and accepting influence,” he says.
While Mr Troy doesn’t claim to be religious, he confesses that the Buddha statue, “gave me a real sense of release and helped me immeasurably.”
True to his friendly nature, Adrian built up a good rapport with the prison guards, who bought a small mirror for him with what little money he had.
“By coincidence the mirror had an illustration of Bangkok temples and landmarks on the reverse side. This was pure coincidence as the guards knew nothing of my Thailand connection. I took this as an omen that I would once again see my home in Phuket,” Adrian said.
After his surprise release, Adrian discovered just how much support he had from close ones. “My friends and family were very active in their support, especially in Australia, the UK and Phuket.
“One of my friends started to lobby UN delegates in his home town of New York, my brother-in-law actually received a letter of acknowledgement and support from Buckingham Palace and the Governor General of Australia.”
Following his release, Adrian needed closure from the whole event, which had tarnished his previously clean record.
“Since my release, my main objective has been understanding and reconciliation. I met the Eritrean Ambassador to the UK and also was invited to dinner by the Eritrean Consul-General to Australia in August.
“This was after I came forward to apologise to the Eritreans. My reception by the officials has been very humbling. They have been very understanding and also reciprocal in their expressions of reconciliation.”
Adrian is now happily settled back in Rawai and reflects on his remarkable 2011 year. “My life and awareness have changed quite considerably. I make very regular trips to the Big Buddha and Wat Chalong in the early mornings and I believe now it is an incredible gift to consider Phuket home.”