Within seconds, eight scruffy Somali men hoisted themselves aboard, their assault rifles and rocket-propelled-grenade launchers clanging against the hull. Paul activated an emergency beacon, which immediately started emitting an S.O.S., and then went up on deck. The men stank of the sea and nervous musk, and they jabbed their guns at the Chandlers.

“Stop engine!” they shouted. “Crew, crew! How many crew number?”

One pirate was particularly concerned about anything flashing, and Paul’s heart sank when the pirate stomped below deck and discovered the emergency beacon, blinking like a strobe, and promptly switched it off. The pirates ordered the Chandlers not to touch anything else, and then they demanded a shower.

This was Oct. 23, 2009. The Chandlers would be held for the next 388 days. 

“Taken by Pirates.” Jeffrey Gettleman, The New York Times Magazine

More #longreads: “Bootylicious.” The New Yorker, Sept. 7, 2009. On what the pirates of yore tell us about their modern counterparts