Here’s an actual story I published (its copy written in case a reader is a copy and paste author) that happened to my wife and I about twenty years ago.
We were anchored in the Las Ollas basin in Ft Lauder dale. It was New Year’s Eve. Our Cheoy Lee Offshore
33 had an md3 Volvo
that had what they called a dynastart system. A generator
that is used as a starter motor
that becomes a generator
at some RPM
. It was the most dysfunctional system I've ever encountered. We hand started that motor
90% of the time. Anyway, it gave up the ghost and we lost
ability. So I needed to install an alternator
. I had to travel all over FT Laud to find parts
, have brackets machined etc.
While walking in the rain with my weather
gear on a car stops and asks if I want a ride. “Sure’. Two young fellows are in the car with new, very clean foul weather gear
. They ask what I was up to as we rode
along. I told them about my predicament and they said they knew were to get the work I needed done. They also said that they too were sailors. And, that they were heading offshore
at about midnight for the Bahamas
, west end and then on to The Azores
. I was impressed. The weather was foul, as indicated by the foul weather gear
. It was blowing like stink from the north, “not a great time to be in the Gulf Stream”, I commented. They said they were used to heading out in this kind of weather and enjoyed the sailing. Youth and stupidity is what I thought. They stayed with me for a few hours and took me wherever I needed to go. They dropped me off at the anchorage and suggested that maybe they would visit later to celebrate the New Year. They were so helpful and friendly that I said, “Sure, blow your horn when you get here and I’ll row in and pick you up”. I told my wife about the two guys and how they were so helpful, and that they were sailors and had a boat called, Night Train. And that they were leaving late tonight for Europe
via west end. It was late in the day; I decided to take it easy and rest. I’ll fix the engine
Later that evening after dinner I hear a horn blowing. I go on deck
and see my new friends waving to me. I row over and bring them aboard. My wife is a good host and we sit and talk about boats and sailing. They brought a bottle of wine. It was good conversation and a pleasant time. They ask about my engine
, did I get it back together, I replied in the negative, and it was clear that it was still in process. The engine doors were open and the parts
were under the companionway
steps. I again brought up the weather and shared that I thought it might be wise to wait a day or so. They both said that this was the best weather to cross the steam in, “plenty of wind
for sailing”. That’s for sure. That was the first clue. I thought and rightly so, that that was just plain stupid. Clue number two.
So we got to talking about navigation equipment
and the one fellow asks me how to initialize and NorthStar GPS
. At that time North Star didn’t make a GPS
. They only made a Loran
. So now my instinct kicks in, and then uncertainty, maybe he means Loran
. I ask him if it’s a GPS or a Loran, he says, “GPS, yea they make the best GPS”. The other guy checks out the engine again and ask how long do I think it will take to “get it straightened out”? Now I have tunnel vision watching the two of them. Something is definitely not right. So I go to the head
and I slip the small cocked pistol we were given by my wife’s Uncle, “just in case” into my jacket pocket..
We sit, I sit in front of Donna, she chats. The one guy ask me, “I forget what the bridge signal is to get the bridge to open, is it one long and two short or”…****. Now I know, this is not good. I sit in front of my wife, I have my hand on the loaded, cocked automatic in my pocket and I’m waiting for one of these assholes to make a move. I can hardly hear anything. I think, Christ Donna is really going to be upset if I have to shoot these two. I watch their hands, their eyes. Looking for anything to tell me something. It gets uncomfortable and kind of quiet. “Well, I guess we better be on our way”. They get up and I ask the one to row because of my back. We bid each other farewell and they’re gone.
I row back to the boat and tell Donna what was going on. She said she thought something was wrong with me. Then I began to second guess myself and think about the consequences of me shooting someone. We locked ourselves inside for the first time ever and went to sleep. The next day we went ashore to get some breakfast and to do some laundry
at the Bahia
Marr marina. While doing the laundry
Donna asks the staff if they have a boat there named Night Train? We are suddenly surrounded by a half a dozen security
police. It turns out that two young, armed, fellows stole Mr. Hinkley’ personal, beautiful blue Hinkley and were apprehended making random horn signals at the, 29th St. Bridge (I think it’s called that). That bridge does not open on demand. It’s on a clock. It opens every twenty minutes. They loaded up the boat with food
and supplies and were headed offshore to they’re probable demise.
We tell the security
people our story and they agree that we probably dodged a bullet. We talked at length about it and the wife tells me to trust my instincts when it comes to our lives. What would have happened if the engine was in working order? I don’t know. Would they have forced us to sail offshore and then done away with us? Possibly. Seems likely to me.
So the lesson learned. Pay attention. When others befriend you, keep an open mind, but don’t go to sleep. I personally feel that if we had not had a weapon on board, we would have simply been at the mercy of two knit wits. Had one or the other made some sort of move the least that would have happened is he would have had a gun in his face and they both would have been swimming back to their car. The worst that would happened given that I had the drop on them is one or both would have been dead. And maybe one of us.
So folks can say whatever they wish about weapons. On the larger boat that we have today there will be one in the forward cabin
and one in the aft cabin
. Locked and secured, but easy for the wife or I to access. There will be softer measures for certain but extreme defensive measures will be on board. The most important thing is to train in the use of deadly force. Have a plan and be clear about it. Think ahead, and do not panic. Pay attention.