2010 10 27
As cool as it was to further frustrate that poor old man in the Charleston anchorage I must admit to too bits:
1. it was not charitable on our part and a little bit of me feels bad about taking the position we did,
2. it could backfire badly.
With respect to backfire I want to share with you verbatim an email received recently from a man who has become a very good friend. Captain Dave is quite a guy as you can tell.
It is a good story and from what I know about Capt Dave is quite true. Dave stopped fibbing a long time ago. Here is his story in his words.
Surviving this cruising life for a long time is creating tolerance for what you call the "characters" that you encounter on your journeys. Many of these characters can end up your very best long term friends. Its not the snowbirds and wanna-bee sailors that make lasting friends. Most of these wanna-bees are.... out of sight...out of mind types. They don't last long at cruising and they are not sailors to begin with but mere boat dwellers. I am still friends with sailors I met 35 years ago in Caribbean/Bahamas and the ICW ... We sit around bitching about the good old days when you could stay overnight at a Mom & Pop marina on the ICW for $1 per boat (not foot)...the owners would remember you from year to year and you would often get a genuine hug on arrival.
Any good sailor is a character of sorts...we are all weird or we would not be living this life if we were normal.Everybody wants something and I know that you will find me a free dock in downtown London,Ontario when I sail in and even if you are anchored to your backyard. Best way to make a friend is start a fight and spend the rest of your life proving you are not violent.
Speaking of violence. Some boats are heavily armed and some sailors feel they are safer not being armed. For sure weapons can be a deterrent and for sure not having a weapon can be a daunting experience in some instances. Just pointing a gun at a native in a bum boat in Bahamas can get you 6 months in Fox Hill prison in Nassau. A friend of mine was arrested in 1991 and weighed 210 lbs. when he went in and 87 lbs. when they released him. If he had of wrapped a white bath towel around the gun and his hand when he came out on deck terrified at 2:am then he would have been charged with pointing a bath towel at the bum boaters despite the fact the natives would know what was in the towel and react accordingly. There is a shotgun/pistol out there now (no permit required in most states) Its a Colt 45 titanium revolver that uses 410 shotgun shells ....A great crotch blaster that wont backfire in your face like a flare gun....you can turn a man into a girl with one shot and most men would prefer being shot in the heart. This can stop an adversary without killing him, and most police agencies recognize that you have no intent other than to protect yourself. You can combine this weapon with a white bath towel.
In the more remote years of the Bahamas in Allen's Pensacola Cay in northern Abaco's (1977)...Eleanor and I got involved in a shootout at the ok corral with a boat load of cocaine users. We had returned from a snorkeling trip in our dinghy on the blue water side of the island only to find a big Columbia anchored in our cockpit and smacking into our bow sprit on every turn of a fickle breeze....we were unarmed as we motored up along side....I was young and furious and called out to them (a dumb move)...we were the only two boats for 20 miles...two characters came out on deck with dripping coke noses and pointed guns at us and threatening to kill us. Eleanor peed herself and started to cry...all I had was a fish fillet knife and sitting like a duck in a dinghy.... It was my big mouth that got us out of this...they accused me of anchoring on their spot even tho the bay would take 10 big boats easy with lots of swing room... I told them they were right and to forgive me for being so selfish as to take their anchor spot. I told them we would haul anchor and move quickly....they laughed at my coward behavior and I edged my dinghy to the far side of my yacht...my heart was thumping heavy as we crawled aboard..I sent Eleanor below to get the Ithaca 12 gage pump and lock & load...she obeyed quickly....I then told her to make strong coffee.... I watched from the cockpit as they were launching a dinghy and looking our way...We were well armed back in those days as cruising was very remote and the drug trade flourished in Bahamas and law & order did not exist except in Nassau and Freeport....VHF radios rarely transmitted more than 5 miles...We were on our own. It was not uncommon for cruisers to be murdered and robbed back in those days.
My confidence was restored with the Ithaca in my arms and my Colt 44 on my belt.
As their dinghy approached I pointed the 12 gage at their bow and blew off a round which quickly sunk their dinghy and disarmed them in the water...one of them swimming with blood trickling from his leg, the other unscathed they crawled back on their boat...a third one appeared in his cockpit and fired a round wildly at me...I fired back and they all scrambled below...I must have overpowered them as they did not come out and called me on the radio saying they were "just kidding"....just having fun. I returned their call with 3 blasts from the Ithaca raking their decks and causing fragments of fibreglass to fly in the air...I told them on the radio that they were dead men if they showed themselves on deck and I shot away their anchor rode and their boat drifted away... It was a long dark night. Eleanor & I huddled together in the cockpit drinking coffee as thick as tar....don't ever under estimate a woman's resolve as she wanted to kill them...she knew she would have been raped by these bastards and had murder in her eyes.......However the angels were on our side that night as the wind came up strong and their boat grounded on a coral beach and began to take severe damage as it rolled over to port and lashed by wind. They called me on the radio and begged me to tow them off....I told them to eat shit, and at dawn Eleanor & I hauled our ground tackle and sailed away.....a few weeks later in Hopetown a man told me he saw a big Columbia in the Green Turtle boatyard with extensive hull and deck damage. In those days we just shut our mouth and moved on somewhere else. We went back to West Palm and re-provisioned and then to Tortola... Having weapons on board or not having them is a damned if you do and damned if you don't situation.... There is no right answer.
Flare guns are not the answer and if you ever fired one at a horizontal target you will see why. You are more likely to kill yourself or get badly burned. Every boat should have impossible to locate gun hide-aways...In America I leave my guns on my supply truck except for a few remote places I cruise. Most of my Canadian cruising friends (the serious sailors) have a Utah conceal and carry licence which is reciprocal in 34 states. They leave their guns in storage in the USA when they cruise in Canada. I keep separate weapons in Canada for cruising Canadian waters.....I have learned to keep Canada and USA very separate and not drag anything controversial across borders. It is also folly to think there are no criminals in Canada. Canada can be quite remote in many places. I have no idea what your thoughts are on all of this and would enjoy your comments some time. Some of my friends are pacifists/appeasers and naive but I don't think that works very well. Those islands in the Caribbean clam up tight about any criminal incidents because it scares tourists away...the Bahamas is the worst for not reporting incidents from murder to shark attacks... I know a Toronto girl (Julie) who was raped and robbed in West End, Grand Bahama in the 80's and they just patched her up..gave her back her vacation money and shipped her home to Toronto and despite protests from Canadian officials she never heard another thing to this day. She ended up with an incurable venereal disease.
So there you have it. Worth reading eh?