Thursday, April 30, 2009
Ship on the Horizon
We were sailing along at a comfortable 8 knots in 1/2 meter easterly swell having a glorious morning when John,one of the crew, yells "hey it is the Coast Guard". We are 200 miles from the nearest land and I say "that is not good news". John expounds on the CG as he and I both were Coasties at one time in the past.
Sure enough I turn on the VHF to 16 and voila there is this boat giving my position in Spanish . I respond and they ask me some details and tell us to monitor 22. We continue our glorious sail when they announce they plan to board. They have determined We are a US documented vessel so they have the right. I reduce sail to about 1.5 knots.
Up until this point the previous days sail was rugged and today has been what dreams are made of....one reef and full headsail....8 plus knots and now these people want to come aboard uninvited in the middle of the ocean? What is a sailor to do I ask you?
The boarding party was very polite and tried to be professional but you could tell it was a training mission. The 1st class boat was the only one with obvious boarding experience. They checked out flares, life Jackets etc. THEN they instructed us to roll up sleaves and they swabbed our fore arms. Then they swabbed areas of the boat then the swabs were transported to the mother ship while the boarding party waited for the results.
Needless to say I was incensed at the assumption we were drug traffikers. WE WERE BOARDED 200 miles from Venezuela!!! When the results came back I was informed they found traces of Heroin and Marijuana on surfaces in the boat. I called BULLSHIT and we had a little standoff. They looked through lockers and engine room. Fortunately after 4 hours of this Bullshit Neptune came to our rescue. Even though the Coasties were at sea for up to 2 months there were seldom in a small boat so mal de mer!. By the time they left they were all a little green around the gills.
It is no wonder Americans have a bad rap around the world when our government boards boats for no apparent reason in International waters.