February 10, 2006

Boarded
Prickly Bay, Grenada

I stuck my head up just in time to faintly see four men armed with sub-machine guns in a wooden fishing boat preparing to board the Odessa in the early morning light before sunrise.

I was down below securing my backpack for the sail to Grenada, when noises from above attracted my attention. A simple wooden boat with a basic outboard engine was pulling up beside us as we motored towards the open ocean. An underground spotlight was jumping from face to face as Captain Bill asked what they wanted. Spanish was shouted back from the encroaching vessel, followed by "Coast Guard." …Right—that's what the pirates always say.

It took only moments for the boat to pull along side and for two heavily armed men to jump the rail and take control of the cockpit. Their boat, now more clearly visible in the low light, seemed to have "Trinidad and Tobago" something or other written on the side; with the men wearing life jackets with similar markings—but I still wasn't buying into it. I thought for sure things were going to turn nasty any moment.

One "officer" took the captain below and I position myself in such a way as I could grab the main sail boom and jump kick the other armed man with both feet (hopefully overboard). Below, the man instructed Bill to completely tear apart storage compartments all over the boat—including a request for me to empty my backpack. A lack of passport and boat paper requests didn't make me feel any more comfortable—these guys were aggressive and looking for something… perhaps valuables. Above deck, I asked what the deal was, and was told that there were reports of pirates in the area.

After 20 tense minutes, the Odessa was in open waters, and it was getting hard for the "Coast Guard" vessel to stay beside us in the 10 foot waves. As the two gunmen departed, their boat slammed into the side of ours (striking our mounted dingy outboard motor), and leaving us to wonder what damage they had exacted (other than a trashed cabin and an unhappy crew).

I guess this was Trinidad taking one last opportunity to make an impression, only serving to reinforce my lack of enthusiasm for the country.

Comments:

Anon

February 16th, 2006

Holy crap. I thought you were joking as I read this cynically. You drop-kicking an invader on your vessle just sounded like a Jackie Chan movie. :)

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