Authors: Philip Roy
Blood Brothers in Louisbourg
Ghosts of the Pacific
Journey to Atlantis
OUTLAW IN INDIA
Copyright © 2012 Philip Roy
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a
retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without prior
written permission of the publisher, or, in Canada, in the case of photocopying
or other reprographic copying, a licence from Access Copyright (the Canadian
Copyright Licensing Agency).
3350 West 21st Avenue, Vancouver, B. C., Canada V6S 1G7
Typesetting: Julie Cochrane
Cover Art & Design: Nancy de Brouwer, Massive Graphic Design
Map: Veronica Hatch
Submarine Sketch: Philip Roy & Julie Cochrane
wishes to thank the following for
their support of its publishing program: the Canada Council for the Arts, the
Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund, the British Columbia Arts
Council and the Province of British Columbia through the British Columbia Book
Publishing Tax Credit program.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Roy, Philip, 1960–
Outlaw in India [electronic resource] / Philip Roy.
(Submarine outlaw series; vol. 5)
Issued also in print format.
ISBN 978-1-55380-178-8 (HTML)
I. Title. II. Series: Roy, Philip, 1960– . Submarine outlaw series (Online);
PS8635. O91144O97 2012 jC813'.6 C2012-902661-1
At Ronsdale Press we are committed to protecting the environment. To this end
we are working with Canopy (formerly Markets Initiative) and printers to phase
out our use of paper produced from ancient forests. This book is one step
towards that goal.
The people who enable me to continue writing this series are a growing number.
I would particularly like to thank the students I meet in schools, and their
dedicated teachers and librarians. They put a smile on everything. I must also
thank Ron and Veronica Hatch, and Deirdre and Julie, at Ronsdale; and Nancy De
Brouwer for her beautiful covers.
Family and friends who continually give me so much generous support are my
mother, Ellen; and Julia, Peter, Thomas and Lydia; my brother, Don; my buddy,
Chris, and Natasha and sweet Chiara; lovely Diana, Maria and Sammy; Zaan and
Nicholas; Hugh; Lauri; Dale and Jake (the intrepid). And a special thanks to
darling Leila, and Fritzi.
The heat of the sun comes from me,
and I send and withhold the rain.
I am life immortal and death; I am
what is and I am what is not.
âÂ THE BHAGAVAD GITA
I WENT TO INDIA TO EXPLORE
. I wasn’t looking for anything in
particular, and I certainly wasn’t looking for trouble, I just wanted to
explore. Some of my discoveries were expected: the heat, ancient ruins,
dangerous snakes and millions of people. But there were also surprises—both good
and bad. And then there were a few things that seemed to find me, as if they had
been just waiting for me to show up.
And of course I did.
We were sitting in the water off Kochi, in the Arabian Sea. It was late
morning; the sun was high. I couldn’t see it through the periscope but it was
shining on the water. There were so
many vessels in the harbour it was hard to believe. My radar screen was
crowded with blinking lights. We had just come from the Pacific where we could
sail for days and days without seeing a single ship. Here it looked as though we
had just stumbled into a bee’s nest. There was a naval base here too, according
to my guide book, but I couldn’t see it. I wondered if the Indian navy had
We had been at sea for weeks now and were anxious to get out and stretch our
legs and explore. If you stay cooped up too long you go crazy. But first we
needed to hide the sub. Seaweed was already out, hanging around with other
seagulls no doubt, and eating dead things. Hollie’s nose was twitching, sniffing
the smells of India that had seeped in when the hatch was open. He wanted
“Just a bit longer, Hollie. We have to find a place to hide first.”
He looked at me and sighed. I steered into the harbour. Normally we would enter
a harbour like this only at night, but with so many vessels who would notice the
periscope of a small submarine? Who would be watching with sonar? It would be
like trying to find a pear in a barrel of apples—no one.
I had never seen so many ships in one harbour before. It was incredible. There
were freighters, tankers, barges, tugboats, Chinese junks, ferries, giant cruise
ships, small cruise ships, sailboats, fishing trawlers, fishing boats,
dories—everything but navy ships. Where were the navy ships?
The harbour was split into channels, like fingers of the sea,
and was a little confusing. The naval base must have been down one of those
channels. Through the periscope I caught a glimpse of the Chinese fishing nets
Kochi was famous for. They looked awesome. They were made of teak and bamboo
poles and the nets hung over the water like giant spider webs. They were
balanced so evenly it took only a few men to dip them into the sea and pull them
out with fish. It was an ancient fishing method but was still used today because
it worked so well.
I wanted to take pictures to show my grandfather, and then ask him why he
didn’t fish like that back in Newfoundland. My grandfather didn’t like trying
new things, which was why I liked showing him new things. I liked to challenge
him. He’d make a face like a prune and say something like, “Don’t fix it if it
isn’t broken.” But I wished he could see these nets because I knew they would
really interest him.
The oldest part of Kochi seemed a good place to hide. It was a seaport from the
days of wooden sailing ships. There were ancient warehouses hanging over the
water, and some were crooked and falling over. Broken piers stuck out of the
water like reeds in a river. Some were broken in half like broken teeth. This
part of the seaport had been abandoned a long time ago. Today all merchandise is
carried in metal containers on giant ships that are loaded and unloaded by
monstrous cranes in concrete terminals. When I turned the periscope around I
could see the cranes miles across the harbour. Old Kochi was a ghost town now—a
perfect place to hide a submarine.
I steered into a channel where the old warehouses were most
rundown, and cruised along on battery power until I saw one where I thought
maybe we could hide inside. The warehouse had a small boathouse at the very end
of it, like a shack on the side of a cottage, and there was just enough
clearance under water—about fifteen feet—for us to come inside. But I’d have to
be extremely careful to not bump the poles or the boathouse would tumble down
around us and maybe take the whole warehouse with it.
I was just about to steer in when I heard a beep on the radar. Another vessel
was coming into the channel. I turned the periscope around and saw a small
powered boat, possibly a coastguard vessel, coming in our direction. Shoot! I
hesitated. Should we stay or should we go? Did they know we were here? Either it
was a coincidence or they were investigating something they had picked up on
radar but couldn’t identify—us.
I shut off our radar so we would stop bouncing sound waves off them, which was
one way they would find us for sure if they had sophisticated listening
equipment, which they might have if they were the coastguard. I kept our sonar
on. It was unlikely such a small boat would have sonar. I pulled the periscope
down, let water into the tanks and submerged gently. We couldn’t submerge much;
the channel was only seventy-five feet deep. As we went down, I had to decide
whether to sit still and let them pass over us, or take off. The problem with
decisions like this is that there’s little time to think; you have to choose
I put my hand on the battery switch and hesitated. The boat
approached. Were they slowing down? If they slowed down we would definitely take
off. No, they didn’t slow down. So we stayed. They went over us and kept on
going. Whew! Then, when they reached a bridge, about half a mile down the
channel, they turned around and started back. Rats! That wasn’t good. Now I had
that uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach that said, “Get the heck out of
So I did. I cranked up the batteries all the way and motored to the end of the
channel as fast as the sub would go on electric power, turned to port and headed
out to sea. I watched the sonar screen to see if they would follow us. They did,
although they didn’t ride right above us, which told me that they knew we were
here but couldn’t locate us exactly. Maybe somebody had spotted us and reported
us. That had happened many times before in Newfoundland.
We followed the ocean floor down to two hundred feet as we motored out to sea.
It took awhile, and the coastguard boat followed us the whole way. Then I
levelled off and turned to starboard. The coastguard kept going straight. Yes!
We had lost them. They had never really known where we were; they had been just
guessing. But we couldn’t leave yet. We had to go back for Seaweed. I figured we
could sneak in at night, when we’d look no different on radar from any sailboat.
In the meantime, we could hide offshore by sailing directly beneath a slowly
passing freighter, so as to appear as one vessel on sonar and radar. It was a
great way to be invisible, though it
was noisy underneath a
ship’s engines. We had done it before.
It didn’t take long to find a freighter. I could tell what kind of ship it was
even without seeing it, by its shape on the sonar screen. Tankers were easiest
to identify because they were so big. Freighters had a sharper bow and flatter
stern, as a rule, although the bigger the ship, the broader the bow. Sometimes
older or smaller freighters had a pointed stern. This one was not very big and
was only cutting twelve knots, which was pretty easy to follow on battery power.
I figured we’d ride beneath her for ten miles or so, then find another freighter
going in the opposite direction and follow her back. When it turned dark, we’d
sneak into the harbour. Hollie took a deep breath and sighed.
“I’m sorry, Hollie. I’m trying. We really don’t want to get caught.”
We chased the small freighter for a few miles until we were right underneath
her, then we came up to just twenty feet beneath her keel. Her engines were
pretty loud. Suddenly she did something very strange. She turned sharply to
port. That was odd. Why would she do that? Was she trying to avoid something in
the water? Sonar didn’t reveal anything in her path. And then, she turned
, to starboard. What was going on? Did she know we were here? I
I was so curious I decided to drop behind, surface to periscope depth and take
a peek. I dropped back a few hundred feet, came up, raised the periscope and
looked through it. As my eyes adjusted to the light in the periscope, I got a
shock. The ship was battleship grey. She was carrying
guns. She wasn’t a freighter at all, she was a frigate, a navy frigate. We were
tailing a naval ship!
Although I knew we were in big trouble I didn’t quite grasp how bad it was
until some sailors on the stern shot something out of a small tube-like cannon
towards us. At first I thought it was just a flare—a warning—because it went
through the air in an arc like a flare. But there was no coloured streak.
Suddenly I realized what it was even before it hit the water. It was a depth
I grabbed him, hit the dive switch and ran for my hanging cot. I threw myself
on the bed with Hollie against my stomach just as the depth charge exploded. It
blew up beneath us. It was like getting kicked by a horse. My teeth bit into my
tongue. The blast hurt my ears, and there were strange sounds in the water
following it. We were diving now. I held onto Hollie tightly and covered his
ears. I wished I could have covered mine, because a second blast exploded right
outside the hull. And even though my eyes were shut, I saw red. It blasted my
ears so violently they started ringing and wouldn’t stop. It was like being
inside a thunder clap. The lights went out in the sub. The explosion knocked the
power out completely. Everything went dark. And we were going down.