VietNamNet reporter Vu Trung spent ten days in the sea of Hoang Sa on a fishing boat. Before the boat set out, he was advised to throw his camera, laptop and documents into the sea if the boat was chased by Chinese ships and to take care of himself if the boat was captured by Chinese.
This is a somewhat abridged English language version of the VietNamNet special report by Vu Trung.
（这是越南网的特别报道。记者 Vu Trung随几艘越南“渔船”“勇闯”中国西沙群岛海域，跟随报道10天）
On the second night, our boat passed Phu Lam and Tri Ton islands, parts of the Hoang Sa archipelago that have been controlled by Chinese for 36 years.
“Our boats have to pass these islands at night to avoid Chinese patrol boats. Each time we pass these islands, we feel hurt. It is our land but we can’t look at it,” said NVA, our helmsman.
Before our ship passed Phu Lam island, Captain TT asked me to put my camera and laptop into a plastic bag and hide it in the hold in case Chinese boats should detect and chase our boat.
During the ten dark hours we passed through this area, all lamps on the boat were extinguished. Captain TT was tensely alert. He explained that with 22 years of experience fishing in this area, he knows it intimately and he can recognize other ships by their lamplight. If he detects Chinese boats while they are still far away, his boat can escape.
At one am on the third day, our boat had passed through the “sea of death.” Captain TT pointed out Bom Bay island. There are no Chinese soldiers stationed on this island but they patrol very often and arrest Vietnamese fishing boats.
One day before our boat arrived in the sea off Bom Bay Island, I made contact with another captain, Nguyen Thanh Tuan, via two-way radio. Captain Tuan’s boat was catching fish in this area already. Tuan agreed to let me transfer to his boat when the two ships met each other near Bom Bay.
However, the fishing grounds around Bom Bay island are quite safe for Vietnamese fishermen at night.