Sunday, March 1, 2009
When I met my chiquitita bonita Argentinita wife during a trip to Miami, I was living on a 9 metre sailboat on Galveston Island 50 miles from Houston. My prior plan had been to retire in 2008 and sail around the Gulf of Mexico, tour coastal Mexico, Central America and South America single handed. Thankfully, she was able to talk me into abandoning that plan and join her in Miami. I retired 3 years earlier than planned, instead. Eventually, we ended up back in her home in Mar del Plata, Argentina... a place that is like Disneyland for adults. Especially retired people.
In preparation for my retirement travels, I studied up on "what if...?" scenarios, and can report the following:
. Weapons on board a vessel can get you into trouble in a foreign port. Recent news articles show that weapons openly declared upon entry resulted in the arrest of a yacht owner from Florida in a Mexican port.
I don't know why this happened. It could be that the guy was a known bad actor, but it is possibly a result of various governments becoming paranoid about arms smuggling. I know that the new AG of the USA Holder has said we must ban assault weapons in the US to aid in helping the MX government get a handle on weapons control so they stop losing so many cops/soldiers to the cartels. I wish they would concentrate instead on the cargo freighters from China that arrive in MX ports every day with containers full of AKs, RPGs and especially grenades, like showed up in McAllen, TX lately. Most of the arms coming from the US are onesy-twosey semi-auto stuff, but there are occasional reports of bigger shipments through the US border. Looks like POLITICS :^( to me.
. Pirate activity largely goes unreported because the crew is dead and the vessel is re-registered in another country. However, perusal of the web sites that discuss such matters shows proof that you DEFINITELY don't want to go about unarmed at sea. I recommend a hi-capacity magazine 12-gauge with "boutique" rounds that do interesting things to wooden/Fiberglas hulls... as utilized in the most common pirate vessels these days. You may want to have a plan in mind if assaulted by a hi-speed native canoe with an outboard and 6-10 guys who have at least 1-2 firearms. You can rely on no one but yourself and what you brought with you at sea. There are lots of reported piracy attempts all around the world, and the northern coasts of the South American continent is one of the hot spots. Africa is number one now, thanks to the Somalis... but the Indonesian pirate often take over huge vessels, also.
. At sea, the security problem is not the biggest... it's the sea. People conjure up visions of mountainous waves and 100+ kph winds as their own private nightmare scenario. I know that with a strong lead or iron keel on a strong sailboat, lots of anchor line and chain out on a strong drogue type sea anchor (I had a couple of surplus cargo parachutes) placing one's bow quartered to the wind allows one to survive without rolling over... survive all but the largest of freak conditions. I am worried about fire at sea, injuries while weeks away from medical care, sudden illnesses combined with simultaneous violent weather, being becalmed for weeks with no food, fuel or... worse yet... potable water... the list goes on and on and on and...
My Argentinita saved me from all that.
. My sailing experience can be encapsulated thusly... 15 percent unadulterated joy, 5 percent gut-clutching fear, and 80 percent potentially boring quiet time. I am very comfortable being alone for long periods of time... YMMV
. Most sailors agree that one needs a minimum of 3 crew to sail safely, plus a mechanical self steering device... electrical ones are for day sailors in coastal waters. One of the three will be on constant housekeeping/cooking, watch assistant duty while the most experienced sailors work 3-6 hours shifts. THE PROBLEM: trying to find 3+ people who can get along under physically and emotionally exhausting weeks of almost unbearable closeness... without killing someone.
If any of you are seriously interested in escaping incipient doom via the high seas in a sailboat, let me know at email@example.com and I will email you some "what if... ?" scenario lists to consider preparing for, suggested reading material, and my own personal check list and handy hints as to what one might wish to consider carrying with you on such a journey. Be aware... where in the boat you store certain items takes almost as much thought as does WHAT to take. Tricky, no?
Thanks guys for all your contributions to FerFal's great community. We need to think about the unthinkable, no?
Suerte/good luck -CapnRick
Thanks Rick. Yes, "Mardel" is the Argy version of Florida.:)
Thanks for the post and all those tips.
See you around and let me know next time you visit Bs As. ok?