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Long time reader and contributor Garry pays tribute to the late John Ridsdel - a courageous and good man

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Yesterday we brought you the story of Garry and Wendy, the Australian couple hiding just metres from the gunmen who took the late John Ridsdel away to his grisly fate.


I received a really great note overnight and I'd like to share a little of it with you.

G'day Michael.

The couple you are referring to in your article "Australian couple hid
from terrorists as the Canadian man beheaded this week was taken hostage"
is my wife Wendy and myself.

We have been avid readers and followers of your blog and I have commented
on a number of your pieces.

In fact whilst in Krabi Thailand in 2012 we even made contact with Ralph
and Ruby through your website and hosted them on-board for lunch.

More than 3 pages full of comments in fact - really terrific stuff like this note after the lunch with Ralph and Ruby:

Garry said:
Ralph, Wendy and I are just rounding the bottom of the Melaka Strait on our way to the East Coast and the Philippines. I hope before we leave Malaysia we again get the opportunity to host you and your beautiful wife Ruby onboard Spirit of Sobraon. Your doing a great thing and we appreciate your sacrifice, now and in the past. As a former serving brother, although at sea, you are doing us all proud. Maintain the rage. To Ruby thankyou so much for your patience and support. Australia owes a dept to you. I look forward to the time that you guys can sit in peace at home knowing this is all behind you. Fair winds to you both, Garry and Wendy
This from more than two years ago about Gillard/Wilson
Garry said:
The fact that the singular question of legal privilege on a couple of boxes of documents is likely to take more than twelve months to resolve doesn't bode well for a speedy resolution of this case given that most of the big issues are orders of magnitude more complex and grave than the one presently at hand ... It's difficult, as a lay person, to fathom how our legal system could possibly be so twisted and inefficient ... Isn't there a saying about justice delayed being justice denied?
Garry even contributed a complete article in August 2013
Many of you have asked why Garry and Wendy's yacht was in that part of the world.  Here's Garry:

Sailing a yacht around the world, especially traveling East via the Northern Pacific is not an easy task due to monsoon seasons and weather.  
We were not intending to visit this marina, however a engine problem whilst we were on our way north meant that we needed to seek shelter from the weather and effect repairs. Oceanview Marina is the only marina in the Philippines that has quality Marine Maintenance Facilities.  
We didn't make the decision lightly and based it on advise that it was a safe destination more than 500 NM north of any Terrorist problems. In fact we were much more concerned about transiting from Borneo through to Palawan.
We arrived just 3 days before the attack. 
The problem is you can't guess where the Terrorists will attack next. This is the problem in Australia.
Davao area was in fact voted one of the safest areas in the Philippines because the local Mayor Rody Duterte hard line on lawlessness. (Hopefully the next Philippines President)
Trust me if I knew what I now Know now do you think I would have stopped there.
The issue is that we take calculated risks being adventurers. We were not there because we wanted to be. 
Islamic Terrorist have closed off the easy trade winds route around the world that most cruising boats would take. ie. the Suez Canal. The bottle neck of boats in Thailand is huge.
We had chosen to sail to Alaska via Japan and needed to transit through the Philippines. It should have been easy if not for greed and an ideology that doesn't sit well with Western Society.

I would like to acknowledge John Ridsdle's life. He has paid the supreme sacrifice coming to the aid of a fellow sailors cry for help. If not for his quick actions Kaz and Steve would certainly been taken and Wendy and I would have been next. The brutality is difficult to comprehend. To be starved and bound for 7 months in the Jungle would be bad enough let alone living with the threat of execution. John was also suffering symptoms of TB.


Going through Garry's comments it's so typical of him to put the other person first and to focus on the welfare of others - as he did in his comment above about the late John Ridsdel.

The Marina put this small tribute to the hostages together - it's particularly moving to see it now that we know John won't be coming back.

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Garry wrote about his experiences in The Philippines  on his boat's log a few days before the tragic news the Islamists had slaughtered John.   He has some very strong messages for our government - I hope they're listening.

So our adventure in the Philippines had come to an end.  It was time to look forward to new experiences and adventures in Taiwan.

Our original intention when we entered the Philippines in 2015 was to transit the Western Coasts and then continue on to Taiwan that year.  The engine breakdown in El Nido in May changed those plans and we stayed for almost 12 months.  

We visited every major Island group except Negros and many other lesser Islands.  We saw amazing scenery and met wonderful friendly people.  If not for the attack at Oceanview we would have left wanting more.

Unfortunately the attack at Oceanview Marina in September has left a lasting scar in our minds and changed us forever. You read about Terrorism, you just never expect it to arrive on your door.

Lots of people have Monday Morning Quarterbacked the attack in yachting forums, pot lucks and cruisers gatherings, suggesting what could or should have been done.

I believe, however, little could have actually been done any differently on the night of the attack.

We were all taken by complete surprise.  None of us that night really understood what was happening until well after the event. In fact most of us initially believed it was merely a domestic dispute.

The grubs that perpetuated this attack were a disorganised rabble.  Apart from the leaders, few of them were older than 20.   Few displayed any real military training.  It was only that they had automatic weapons and the element of surprise that put them in complete control and gave them a huge advantage.  They were full of machismo whilst in control at the end of a gun, that howevefell apart when they made the mistake of trying to escape the wrong way along the dock and when they had any resistance.

As part of my Military career I was trained as a lecturer in the applications of the Laws of War and the Geneva Conventions.  When Henry Dunant wrote his book "The Memory of Solfirino" in 1862 and then went on to inspire world leaders at the time to set up the Geneva Conventions and Red Cross he had no idea that human kind could sink to even worse depravity than what he had experienced on the battlefields of Solferino.  

Modern terrorist tactics were not thought of then.  

Unfortunately we in civilised societies still hold the principles of the conventions and are being hamstrung by them.  Unless we confront this brutality with equal and superior brutality the rise in these atrocities will only become greater.

It is time for the well meaning socialist feel good policies and advocates of the world to get out of the way of our Governments and allow the problem to be dealt with efficiently and effectively.  

Our four fellow cruisers have now been held,  bound and captive for more than seven months in the stinking jungles of Jolo Island by these scum.  As I write this I can't help fear for their lives as the dead line of the 25th of April looms and I contemplate just how fortunate Wendy and I are to now be in the safety of Taiwan. 

The inaction to rescue them is mind numbing.  In truth this whole saga, like most terrorism, is about greed, money and power and not about Religious ideology.  The leaders use the cloak of radical Islam as a disguise to recruit young uneducated impressionable disciples to their cause.

The Police and Military who worked with us on the initial investigation and the brave young Philippine soldiers who have lost their lives in skirmishes in the islands since have their hearts in the right place.  

I don't have the same sense for those at a more senior level, and I get the feeling that at some level someone in authority is involved and complicit.  

A well trained Special Forces Team should have had no difficulty locating and extracting our friends from these thugs.  Whilst we have no idea of what is happening through the negotiations it is obvious that no foreign team from any of the Countries involved has been allowed to do what they do best. 

We hope and pray that Rob, Tess, Kjarten and John will be released soon and that justice served on those who perpetuate these crimes, and that they are not sacrificed as pawns for the greed and corruption of a few selfish individuals who have little compassion for the lives of others.  

Please spare a thought and prayer for all involved. We look forward to their safe return.

I am so proud that we have attracted people of the calibre, character and wisdom that Garry has so generously shared with us on our site over the years.  Thank you Garry and Wendy!

To the family of the late John Ridsdel we offer our condolences and sympathy on the loss of John.  

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John Ridsdel

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
John Ridsdel
Born 1947 or 1948
Died 25 April 2016 (aged 68)
Cause of death Beheading
Residence CalgaryAlbertaCanada
Ethnicity British
Alma mater University of Toronto
London School of Economics
Occupation Businessman, journalist

John Ridsdel was a Canadian businessman from CalgaryAlberta, who was kidnapped by Abu Sayyaf militants in the Philippines on September 21, 2015, and beheaded by group members on 25 April 2016. He was 68 years old.

Early life and career

Ridsdel's family originated from Britain. His mother was a Scottish-born nurse and his father a London-based physician. After moving to DurbanSouth Africa, and Saskatchewan, Canada, the Ridsdel family returned to Great Britain for a while, before again settling in Canada, first in Vancouver and finally in Calgary. Ridsdel graduated with a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Toronto and a master’s degree in political sociology from the London School of Economics.[1]

He initially worked as a producer and reporter at CBC Calgary and at the Calgary Herald, before he joined Petro-Canadain Alberta, a company he represented in Pakistan, Myanmar and Algeria. At the time of the kidnapping, he was working for the mining company TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc.,[2] a subsidiary of Canada's TVI Pacific, where he was also a consultant.

Rest in Peace