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Fourteen days across the Atlantic, perched on a ship’s rudder
A little after midnight on 27 June, Roman Ebimene Friday gathered up the food he had been collecting for a few months and set out in the dark for the large commercial port in the city of Lagos, Nigeria. Earlier that day, Friday had spotted a 620-foot (190m) tanker docked at the port and decided that it would be the ship to deliver him to Europe.
Friday was aiming for the tanker's rudder - the only accessible point on its massive hull for a person who isn't supposed to be aboard. There was no way to bridge the gap from the dock to the rudder, other than convince a fisherman to ferry him across. "He was a holy man, that fisherman," Friday recalled. "He did not ask for money. He could see that I wanted to leave."
The fisherman sidled up to the rudder and Friday, 35, pulled himself up, hauling his food bag behind him on a rope. As he steadied himself he saw, to his surprise, three faces in the dark. He was the last of four men with the same idea. "I was scared, at first," Friday said. "But they were black Africans, my brothers."
Fearful of being caught, the four men perched silently on the rudder for the next 15 hours. At 5pm, they felt the ship's giant engines shudder to life. Over the din, they shouted a few words. They were all aiming for Europe. They expected to be shipmates for as long as a week.
The tanker, called the Ken Wave, pushed out from the port and headed to sea - the beginning of a perilous two-week ocean voyage that would bring the stowaways close to death.
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