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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Sorry, don't want to waste anyone's time with my total lack of elementary knowledge of sailing but I thought this might be a good place to learn.

I'm contemplating writing a work of fiction in which a petty criminal, in way over his head, attempts to smuggle about 2 tons of cargo half way around the world. How plausible would this be in a boat that could be sailed by one person?

I figured flying it would require too big a plane and too much logistical support. This guy is pretty much on his own.

Also, my humble apologies to "Landlubber" for sort of copying his nickname. I should have known it would already be taken but the name fits my predicament.

Thanks in advance for any help. :)
 

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Well illegals smuggles more than 4000lbs of pot & coke all the time on small boats, so it doesn't sound unbelievable.


What's the cargo in your story ???
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I should have prefaced the question by saying that this is something that would have happened 30 years ago (cargo is gold). Has the technology changed significantly enough in the last 30 years that it would affect the answer to the question?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks everyone for chiming in. Another question: What kind of craft would we be looking at in terms of nomenclature? Obviously not a dingy. I know that much. And how do I get ahold of Mr. SimonV?

Thanks everyone.
 

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Ahhh...gold is heavy...could be used as ballast in the keel instead of lead.
Big problems:
30 years ago...no electronic navigation. Would need to use sextant and charts.
Can single hand a boat that large...say 35-40 feet full keel sloop...but need experience in sailing at least smaller boats to even attempt it.
Also need to be sailing in the right direction at the right time of year which may influence your plot.

If yer gonna do it...don't make a botch of it like Patterson recently did with SAIL!!
 

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Well since the cargo is gold, the subject can afford to buy a state of the art at the time, fiberglass boat in the 40-45' range. A Cal 40 would have been an ideal candidate to smuggle 3,986.67 lbs of gold. They were very fast, had a cavernous bilge to hide the loot and could be rigged to singlehand. Of course the bilge is so deep due to the internal ballast that customes agents would probably never find the gold, especially if it was painted dull gray or better yet, glassed over like the lead ballast was.

Of course, 2 tons would bury the waterline on about any 40' boat 3-4 inches. Nothing a little paint couldn't fix.

Happy writing.
 

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Didn't Gene Hackman do something like this in The Heist? The gold was part of the boat, then not, etc....

Good idea to make the keel gold. A good plot twist is that the smuggler didn't know diddly about boats and installed the gold keel with iron keel bolts that corroded and the keel fell off in 200' of water.... boat went turtle, CG came to the rescue, but the smuggler didn't want to be rescued.... had to come back with Donald Sutherland & Mark Wahlberg (The Italian Job) and drive off with it using underwater scooters...... but Wahlberg's g'friend double crossed him, cut his air line and ran off with the loot (Casino Royale).....

Sorry, couldn't resist.....
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Gold in the keel has been done before:) The Golden Keel, Desmond Bagley. In this novel the sailor is experienced, but he still looses the keel somewhere in the med during a storm.

TC
Oh, the old "gold in the keel" trick, eh? Well, good thing it's not a big part of the story. Although, maybe the character could say, "I've got it! I could stuff it all in the keel just like in that old Desmond Bagley novel." ;)
 

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Might work:). the book is a good read though. Might give you a couple of ideas, of what could work and what will not.
Could fill the bilges and water tanks with the gold.
Just pm SimonV, he is a member here. Should be able to find him in the member list.
 

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Ahhh...gold is heavy...could be used as ballast in the keel instead of lead.
Big problems:
30 years ago...no electronic navigation. Would need to use sextant and charts.
Can single hand a boat that large...say 35-40 feet full keel sloop...but need experience in sailing at least smaller boats to even attempt it.
Also need to be sailing in the right direction at the right time of year which may influence your plot.

If yer gonna do it...don't make a botch of it like Patterson recently did with SAIL!!
Well actually one less problem, there was an electronic nav system that started up in the early seventies called Omega. World wide coverage with 8 land based transmitters. Did need to buy paper charts with Omega nav lines on them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I read the thread on Patterson's book and saw someone else I'd like to PM, a published author who might have some suggestions on getting the research, etc. But I have to get to 10 posts before I can PM anyone. You guys are great. I really can't tell you how much I appreciate the insights you're sharing.

Unfortunately, I'm land-locked and my meager resources don't allow me to follow painkiller's advice and try it for myself. ;)
 

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So here it is, ya got this down & out charactor that crewed on one of the early 70's Tahiti yacht races, who either stole or found a stolen golden taiwanese idol worth millions and she must excape from Vanuatu on a formosa 51 she stole from the Vanuatu Cruising Yacht Club. :D
 

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Sorry, don't want to waste anyone's time with my total lack of elementary knowledge of sailing but I thought this might be a good place to learn.

I'm contemplating writing a work of fiction in which a petty criminal, in way over his head, attempts to smuggle about 2 tons of cargo half way around the world. How plausible would this be in a boat that could be sailed by one person?
It would require a bit on knowledge and skill on the part of the petty criminal, especially as you say this is set in the 1970s or so... when instant satellite navigation fixes from GPS weren't readily available. :)

As, Cam has pointed out. Gold, due to its physical similarities to lead, would make wonderful, if expensive, ballast. Getting the gold hidden in a sailboat, especially an older, full-keel design, would require some work, but nothing that a determined person couldn't do by themselves.

The real problem is in getting the sailboat from point A to point B without sinking it or getting lost. :) The character would have to have at least some basic sailing experience... a lot of the navigation and such could be muddled along the way, as proven by Tania Aebi during the first part of her circumnavigation. :)
 

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I read the thread on Patterson's book and saw someone else I'd like to PM, a published author who might have some suggestions on getting the research, etc. But I have to get to 10 posts before I can PM anyone. You guys are great. I really can't tell you how much I appreciate the insights you're sharing.

Unfortunately, I'm land-locked and my meager resources don't allow me to follow painkiller's advice and try it for myself. ;)
Heh heh. Sorry, Lubber. Didn't know you were legit. I once tried to help somebody who "hypothetically needs to hypothetically transport 2 tons of hypothetical something across a hypothetical international border using some kind of hypothetical vehicle/vessel" because they were "writing a novel". And if I ever show my face in Tijuana again... :)
 
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