The question all sailors are asking

As the yachting couple released by pirates prepare to return to the UK, all Blue Water yachtsmen are asking one question: was a ransom paid to secure their freedom?

Paul Chandler, 60 and his wife Rachel, 56, were in Mogadishu the Somali capital preparing to fly to Kenya from where they will be repatriated. Mr Chandler told the BBC: ‘We are skinny and bony, but otherwise fine.’

Their family lobbied the Foreign Office for a news blackout for fear that publicity was hampering negotiations for their release. The armed pirates who snatched them a year ago from their yacht Lynn Rival while their were on passage from the Seychelles to Tanzania, originally demanded £4.4 million.

And despite the news blackout foreign news agencies reported that £100,000 HAD been paid as part of a deal for their freedom and that more would have to be stumped up before their release.

The Chandlers, from Tunbridge Wells, Kent had been criticised for sailing from the Seychelles when they did so as piracy activity had extended from the Somali coastline to areas far off shore. Although quite how they were expected to sail further west was not explained by their detractors.

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