I was witness to a disturbing but seemingly more frequent occurance this past weekend at one of my favorite sailing haunts. The harassment of a fellow sailor, in a dinghy at that!
This past weekend at Pirates Cove in Josephine, Al the wood boat festival was underway The Perdido Wood Boat Association
. There were lots of boats, both power and sail in attendance. Pirates Cove restaurant sits on a peninsula at the entrance to Roberts Bayou, a popular anchorage. After a brisk sail with my two year old son, I rafted up to my Dad's boat in the anchorage to share a coldie and catch up.
As we sat there chatting here comes the ELITE Alabama Marine Police into the anchorage. We promptly made the beer less noticable, since even a glimpse of an amber, lager, ale, or stout will elicit the unwanted attention of these fine gentlemen. We watched the Gestapo...errr officers! turn on their disco lights and pull over an ancient sixteen foot runabout filled with drunken twenty somethings. After checking for life jackets and fire exstinguisher they were allowed to proceed.
A friend of my Dad's, I will leave out his name and boat name for obvious reasons, had been sailing around with some pretty young thing trying to teach her the ropes of dinghy sailing. (PUN INTENDED) He was in his handmade roughly ten foot catboat. NO MOTOR only sail or oars. The FINE GENTLEMEN decided to pull him over next.
The gestapo err cops told him to drop his sail?!?! and then came alonside. They spent about fourty five minutes alongside this dinghy and gave him a ticket for no registration and the young thing a DUI then sent them on their way. This is the first time I have ever witnessed something like this happen to a sailor on the gulf coast. I assure you, they were not drunk, and the dinghy was marked as the T/T for a larger documented boat.
Is it just me or does this situation just seem wrong? All of the sailors I know tend to be courteous mariners and law abiding citizens. The sad fact of the matter is that while these officers were pulled along side this DINGHY there were probably dozens of powerboats full of people in drunken stupors pulling away from Pirates Cove with hundreds of horsepower and double vision.
My question to you folks is this. Is this common among the "local" law enforcement in your area? Around here the Marine Police used to be local watermen who just wanted to keep things civil. NOw we are getting more and more of these sea pigs. What do you think?
Oh and by the way. To all of the Coast guardsman who post on this site. I don't include you in this. I have only seen professionalism in the case of the Coasties. Keep up the good work. What can we do about these State and Local guys though.