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Old 17-03-2015, 03:37   #1
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Deplorable behaviour from Marina manager and other yachties

Sailing back virtually non stop from Thailand to the UK single handed in a steel cutter I got stopped at sea by the Spanish Guardia and forced into Bayona marina at the point of several machine guns for a good going over.

Tied up on a pontoon I had several drugs police search the boat along with a local magistrate , I was suspected of cocaine smuggling apparantly. They took the boat to bits, amusingly calling off the search when they found my bread flour made up in small polythene sealed bags to prevent infestation, a flick knife was produced and dipped and then run under a tap, solved that one.

Anyway, while on the jetty several British sailors who were on a rally walked over and commented that I gave the yachting community a bad name and other rude abuse, talk about guilty until proven innocent. Fortunately, the owner of a large british flagged motor boat moored nearby, was kinder and sent over coffee and biscuits to me while being guarded on deck.....

When they finally decided that I was not what they thought I was I was ordered out of the marina by the woman manager, I said I needed half a day to re build the boat but she was adamant, she said no smoke without fire and that my boat had a few rust streaks on it so I probably was guilty, of rust??

So if you ever go to Bayona in NW Spain be sure to have just come a few miles from another marina with a spotless boat, avoid rally yachtsmen and women, especially British ones, but mainly, avoid Bayona.

(I should add that in Lisbon when I stopped overnight to re fuel the boat was broken into but nothing was stolen. In Bayona a technician removing a burnt looked electronic tracking device from a locker commented that it worked better with 12volts
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Old 17-03-2015, 04:00   #2
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Re: Deplorable behaviour from Marina manager and other yachties

When you got to Lisbon, who knew you were coming from Thailand? Where had you been too prior to arriving in Portugal?
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Old 17-03-2015, 04:36   #3
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Re: Deplorable behaviour from Marina manager and other yachties

While it almost never happens, this is where I really wish we could hear the other side of the strory.

I guarantee there is more to it.
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Old 17-03-2015, 04:51   #4
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Re: Deplorable behaviour from Marina manager and other yachties

Tracking device? What do you mean by that exactly? Did someone plant that in your boat in the Pacific, then track you across the globe, to search you upon arrival?

Or are you assuming the person who broke in, while you were in Portugal, planted that device.

I'm sorry you had such an experience, it may have been a case of mistaken identity, as happened to us in France.

My wife and I were boarded and investigated in France. They were very polite, and decided not to search, in the end. But they did park a 100 foot cutter outside the marina, stopped all entry and exit to said marina, then came in a 20 foot rib with 4 heavily armed guys aboard, to talk to us. All very exciting.

They had word to look for a similar boat coming up the coast, and were taking no chances with us.

I can't stress enough how "un-american" the experience was. No guns were pointed at us, and we were never treated as criminals. They made requests, rather than demands. And not one of them "glared" at us. They never ordered us to do anything, just politely asked questions until they were satisfied we were not the people for whom they were looking.

As a bonus, 10 miles up the coast, the next day, that same RIB with the same folks aboard came out 2 miles from the coast to greet us, waving and wishing us a good trip. And one mile after that, a military jet gave us a low pass and tipped his wings 3 times for us.

Man, those French really know how to appologize for a mistaken identity!

Cheers,
Paul.

As an aside, there are as many asses cruising as there are otherwise. It's a common theme where folks think if there's smoke there's fire. After all, you did have a rust streak there for all to see. Also, nothing against Rally folks, but many rally folks aren't full time cruisers, and have little understanding of "free" cruising, without the parties and "support" at every stop. They sometimes look down on the rest of us "rogues", cruising without an organized plan.
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Old 17-03-2015, 05:28   #5
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Re: Deplorable behaviour from Marina manager and other yachties

Well Valhalla, all I can ask is were you on that rally? Other readers will see from that remark what you are up against sometimes.

As far as suspicions go Thailand is not a place to buy cocaine exactly, which is what they were looking for. And yes, I do suspect that a tracker was fitted in Portugal. My log book did show I had visited Venezuela, but a couple of years before that visit. They went through the log book in Lisbon.

And no, prior to sailing off into the sunset I was the founder and subsequent director of a NASDAQ listed IT company, not a drug smuggler with a record.

I should add that on arrival in Brighton from Venezuala after the earlier trip I was searched by Newhaven Customs, the man there was convinced I was a smuggler of sorts because he couldn't see how I was retired at only 42..He even later called me at home wanting me to sell my boat to a known smuggler in Holland to prove I was on his side...so to speak. As I didn't fancy being shot by some dutch heavy I declined his offer of a fair market price, subsidised by customs, if I understood his drift correctly. He was not happy.

That may well be what caused the search off Spain as the female magistrate did mention Newhaven Customs involvement during the 6 hour search.
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Old 17-03-2015, 06:25   #6
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pirate Re: Deplorable behaviour from Marina manager and other yachties

I've been stopped a few times in my travels.. both as an individual and as a delivery skipper..
The last occasion was when I brought a Garcia 45 with its owner from Marsailles to Chatham UK..
We were drifting along off the French coast about 20miles E of Ushant.. barely any breeze and dirty fuel meant no engine as we were saving the last new filter for the run up river to Chatham when we got to the Thames Estuary..
Anyway.. this French Customs cutter roared up and commanded us to alter course and head for aber Vrac'h.. so we altered course and trickled along through the drizzle at about 2kts.. we were also instructed to stay on deck.. so a couple of hours later we were cold and hungry so I gave em a shout on the VHF and told them I was going below to make a brew and sandwiches.. they said I could not.. to which I said 'Tough ****.. arrest me.. ' then went down and knocked up some food.. In the meantime they were getting annoyed as it had taken us 4 hours to travel 6 miles and there was still a few miles to go.. 'Start engine..' 'No.. you want more speed you tow us'.. which they would not do so we sailed all the way in and finally they launched their dinghy to help us dock..
By this time it was around 5pm and 7 uniforms and one dog boarded us.. by this time I was getting twitchy.. Marsailles being what it is.. they turned the boat over and around 9.30pm gave us the all clear... but no reason for the stop.
Got 2 free nights alongside tho'
It happens.. suck it up.. switch off the paranoia.. just like the Dirt police they have to do some 'Tugs' if only to justify their existence.. and in the main are courteous unless provoked.
As for Bayona.. I love the place.. and just coz the odd sailor craps out.. thats not reason enough for me to stop going there.
Also.. if they would not let you stop at the main marina (the other is the old Club Nautico).. why did you not just move to the anchorage..
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Old 17-03-2015, 06:35   #7
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Re: Deplorable behaviour from Marina manager and other yachties

Thing that has always scared the stuffing out of me is the fear that something will be found that was not there before they boarded.
Then what do you do?
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Old 17-03-2015, 07:03   #8
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Re: Deplorable behaviour from Marina manager and other yachties

re stuff being there that wasn't////

After the find of the flour they were getting pretty pissed at me and I asked the magistrate to get them off the boat and to come back on in underwear only as that was what worried me too. they called off the search then and left the boat.

As to the other post re French Customs, I too was boarded not far from L'Aber Wrach, around the corner at Le conquet, they had a dog and were polite, quite different to the Spanish. BTW, I was on the Club Nautico jetty at Bayona, have been there before without this treatment, however this time I was an escorted vessel with armed company, quite a different entrance!

Indeed, I came into Bayona another time from the Azores in a force 10 and a fishing boat came out to escort me in as virtually no visibility, the marina had sent them out after I radioed I was coming in, at 11 at night.. Shouldn't really have made for the entrance in that weather but its an easy entrance with the wind from the south and didn't fancy toughing it out at sea.
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Old 17-03-2015, 07:12   #9
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Re: Deplorable behaviour from Marina manager and other yachties

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Thing that has always scared the stuffing out of me is the fear that something will be found that was not there before they boarded.
Then what do you do?
Remove your tinfoil hat?

Other than in adventure novels, when have you ever heard of this happening?

IF it did happen, you'd obviously be completely screwed and it would cost you a whole lot of money and probably your boat and some time in the pokey, but how is that any more likely than a land based policeman deciding to frame you for murder? I suppose it theoretically could happen and probably does happen once every million murder investigations or so, but go through life being afraid of it happening to you seems too bad. Most policemen and immigration officials are honestly trying to do their jobs to the best of their ability, and even the ones who come across as "jerks" or are on some kind of power trip, aren't so evil so as to completely ruin someone's life by planting drugs on their boat or framing them for murder.

The thing I've occasionally considered is that the guest of a previous owner might have unintentionally left behind the remnants of a joint or dropped a small quantity of an illegal substance in an inaccessible spot, and it's been lying hidden until years later when it's MY boat and a drug dog finds it during a customs inspection. Then, how do I prove it's not mine? But to avoid this, why not go to your local police department and explain your concern and ask if they have a drug sniffing dog and would be wiling to search your boat just to make sure it's clean. Their dog gets training in a different environment than it's used to, and you get peace of mind.
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Old 17-03-2015, 07:20   #10
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pirate Re: Deplorable behaviour from Marina manager and other yachties

I was worried when the dog came back up topside after a search below (young bitch Lab) and buried her nose in my crotch... However I did enjoy a coupla great nights in the pub..
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Old 17-03-2015, 07:53   #11
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Re: Deplorable behaviour from Marina manager and other yachties

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Remove your tinfoil hat?

Other than in adventure novels, when have you ever heard of this happening?

IF it did happen, you'd obviously be completely screwed and it would cost you a whole lot of money and probably your boat and some time in the pokey, but how is that any more likely than a land based policeman deciding to frame you for murder? I suppose it theoretically could happen and probably does happen once every million murder investigations or so, but go through life being afraid of it happening to you seems too bad. Most policemen and immigration officials are honestly trying to do their jobs to the best of their ability, and even the ones who come across as "jerks" or are on some kind of power trip, aren't so evil so as to completely ruin someone's life by planting drugs on their boat or framing them for murder.

The thing I've occasionally considered is that the guest of a previous owner might have unintentionally left behind the remnants of a joint or dropped a small quantity of an illegal substance in an inaccessible spot, and it's been lying hidden until years later when it's MY boat and a drug dog finds it during a customs inspection. Then, how do I prove it's not mine? But to avoid this, why not go to your local police department and explain your concern and ask if they have a drug sniffing dog and would be wiling to search your boat just to make sure it's clean. Their dog gets training in a different environment than it's used to, and you get peace of mind.



My thing is if I'm ever searched, I'm as nice and as polite and respectful as I can be, to try to avoid the possibility, I can imagine maybe if you show your arse, well maybe they will teach you a lesson, just possibly?
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Old 17-03-2015, 07:53   #12
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Re: Deplorable behaviour from Marina manager and other yachties

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Well Valhalla, all I can ask is were you on that rally? Other readers will see from that remark what you are up against sometimes.

.
Nope, I wasn't there and never made any assertions as to what happened.

But on the rare occasions, I've heard similar stories and was able to get the rest of the story, it usually paints a far different picture. Not always what you expect but usally much different from the original story.
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Old 17-03-2015, 08:23   #13
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Re: Deplorable behaviour from Marina manager and other yachties

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My thing is if I'm ever searched, I'm as nice and as polite and respectful as I can be, to try to avoid the possibility, I can imagine maybe if you show your arse, well maybe they will teach you a lesson, just possibly?
That's only human nature so I expect you're right about that. But even if you're the nicest guy in the world, if the dog finds a burnt out roach or traces of some illegal powder in some dark recess or your boat, you're going to be on the defensive as you try to convince them that you have no idea how it got there. But if you proactively have your boat searched to eliminate that possibility and continue your policy of being polite and respectful when you're boarded, I think you have very little to worry about!
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Old 17-03-2015, 08:33   #14
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Re: Deplorable behaviour from Marina manager and other yachties

Unfortunately, the authorities sometimes get misinformation. We have transited the Suez several times. A number of years ago, we were stopped mid-way to Cyprus by what turned out to be an Israeli naval vessel. We had heavy weapons pointed at us and were boarded by several armed marines. We did not appreciate having guns pointed at us and our children from one meter away. The marines were coldly polite and indifferent to our coomentary. Despite our protests we were forced to sail to Ashkelon in Israel where our boat was searched for weapons. The fact that we sailing away from Egypt toward Cyprus was lost on them. The Israeli's did not care about the issues they caused us (we forfeited our winter mooring in Cyprus and our deposit) and they offered no apologies - naturally they found nothing - they even brought sniffer dogs. They left a massive mess behind and then had the audacity to charge us marina fee's.
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Old 17-03-2015, 08:47   #15
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Re: Deplorable behaviour from Marina manager and other yachties

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Remove your tinfoil hat?

Other than in adventure novels, when have you ever heard of this happening?
Al the time. It is all about motive. In most places, the motive is simply money. When the Mexican police shook me down, they didn't want to put me in jail -- they just wanted money. The Italian civil servant who was sitting on my wife's application didn't want to sit on it forever -- they just wanted a little money to grease the application's way through the system.

a64pilot, if someone does plant something on your boat, they're probably just looking to make some money off you. (not that this is a good thing...)
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