* in 2008, held hostage along with an Irish engineer and 4 Russian crew for 47 days by 20 gun-toting Somali pirates after they leapt aboard his Danish ship, the 'Svitzer Korsakov', 70 nautical miles off the north eastern coast of Somalia in the Gulf of Aden.
* struck over the head and warned he would be shot if the crew disobeyed their captors and was accompanied everywhere he they went, even to the lavatory.
* able to survive on Somali tea and goat meat.
* freed, along with the crew, 6 weeks later when a rumoured £350,000 ransom was paid.
* able to return to Devon where he was reunited with wife and began writing about the terrifying episode for a book, 'Capture By Somali Pirates And Other Events At Sea'.
* invited to talk to the 'Women's Institute' branch in Parkham, a village a few miles from his home.
* was stunned to arrive at the meeting and find the members in fancy dress wearing eye patches, wigs and fake wooden legs while brandishing plastic cutlasses.
Branch Spokespesrson, Stephanie George said:
"We didn’t know much about him, but the notes said he was Captain Darch and he was talking about piracy. I thought he was from a local fund-raising group who dress up as pirates to raise money for charity. Naturally everyone was aghast when we realised our mistake.
There he was delivering this harrowing story about how he was held hostage and feared for his life, and we were all sitting there dressed as Captain Hook.
We apologised profusely but Mr Darch was a great sport and it didn’t seem to faze him at all.
He was so funny and such a nice man. He carried on with his talk, which was wonderfully entertaining, and a few of the ladies bought copies of his book afterwards".
Colin said :
" They seemed to be a little embarrassed but it didn’t offend me in the slightest.
It’s been five years now and sometimes I have to remind myself just how terrifying and frightening it was. In any event, the ladies didn’t look the slightest bit like Somali pirates – more like the Pirates of Penzance.