Many years ago when I was much younger and foolisher, I was cruising remote
areas of the Bahamas
. Our skipper
declared our rifles (2) upon entry and we were allowed to keep them aboard. Later in the cruise
, while anchored in an area far away from law enforcement help, and any other cruisers or fishermen for that matter, we encountered some unsavory fellows. With about half our crew in the water
, a few of them SCUBA diving
and several snorkeling, I watched as a large older poorly maintained sport fisherman approached very slowly. There were no outriggers or any other fishing gear
visible on the boat. The only things visible were the 5 or 6 crew on deck
, one with binoculars trained on us the whole time.
As they got within hailing distance I pointed to our dive flag on the spreader and told them we had people in the water
. They didn't appear to care as they continued to approach closer without acknowledging. I hailed them again the same way and received the same response...none. I was uncomfortable already and now am nervous. As they got closer one of their crew asked "Hey mon, which way is Nassau
?" with a look on his face that made me even more concerned. Besides the look on their faces and their general countenance and the total lack of gear
on their boat (more apparent now), one doesn't cruise
areas of the Bahamas
and not know which general direction that Nassau
lies. I am extremely nervous now. You know, the hairs on the back of the neck standing up and my heart racing
. I told them to wait a moment and I went down below, woke the skipper
form his nap and told him what was up. We decided on our plan and both came back on deck
with our rifles so they could see we were armed. The skipper pointed in the direction of Nasssau and said "that way." Our visitors gave us a smile and waved goodby as they departed as slowly as they had approached. We were much more alert after that and kept a security watch at night for the remainder of the trip.
Were we stupid to react the way we did? Were they possibly just looking for fellowship? Were they just drawn to the pretty young women on our boat? Were they up to no good and checking to see if we were a soft target? It's all debatable I guess. And I am sure many on this thread will find faults with our decision to bring firearms and our reaction to this percieved threat. However, I am convinced that we did the right thing.
Short postscript to this story: on a subsequent cruise to the Bahamas we neglected to declare our rifle (see foolisher comment above) and were later boarded by the Bahamian Defense Force. The young Ensign's primary objective was a drug bust, but finding none onboard he decided to make his case with our (now realised) undeclared rifle. The subsequent arrest, interrogations (yes, interrogated as if we they believed we were insurgents...but no waterboarding
), boat impoundment, rifle confiscation, and being held in an unpleasant facility (no, it wasn't like the Midnight Run movie
, but I still really didn't want to be there!) for two days while we had the money
for the stiff fine wired from the U.S. was a very unpleasant experience.
OK. I am prepared to be horse-whipped and my decisions to be picked apart by some here. That's OK. Go ahead. I am interested in your thoughts and would like to know how some of you would have handled the situation. To answer a few anticipated questions: Yes I am trained to use firearms and yes I was prepared to use it...and yes I was scared s***less.