Monday, February 11, 2013

Grenada Cast Guard

We seldom see the Grenada police, but the coast guard is another matter. Lately we had many encounters with them and I am impressed. Their main center in the south is at the Prickly Bay, next to the Spice Isle Marina, where their various size powerful boats are stored. 

The first time we saw them in action, we were lazily lying on our front trampoline, reading and looking around. A medium sized boat came near a mono-hull anchored almost in front of us, which was owned by an older gentleman. The boat, Santa Lucia, had a prominent Norway flag, and some other smaller flags, which we discerned one of them to be Spanish, though not the others. 

Anyway, two islander coast guards called out to Santa Lucia, whose door was open. When they could not get an answer, they had a discussion with another boat close-by, and left. We were kind of curious, and started to examine Santa Lucia. Al noticed that the dinghy was tied at the back, but its engine was dismounted and taken to the boat. Al thought that the owner was probably getting ready to move away. We wondered why the coast guard would be interested in that man, whom we had seen puttering around the boat alone and having drinks with friends. About half an hour later the coast guards returned. One of them started snorkeling and diving around Santa Lucia, and quit after half an hour. The boat left, and came back with two scuba divers this time. They dived and searched the waters for an hour more, but did not seem to find anything. In the meantime, an elderly couple came to Santa Lucia, looking around and straightening the inside of the boat, I presume. They stayed at the boat for several hours, and left in the evening, after locking the doors and hatches. We learned afterwards that the body of the owner was found a few days later, along the east cost of the bay. Poor soul, he must have fallen into the water, dead or alive, sometime in the morning. Unfortunately we were out shopping that morning, otherwise we would have seen the incident, and maybe could have helped? I really felt for the poor man; although he was alone, he had good friends apparently, who must have alerted the coast guard, and looked after his property after he was gone. The next day, coast guard came back pulled Santa Lucia into their compound, awaiting the owner’s next of kin I suppose.

Then we spent two nights at the Moliniere Point, tied to a mooring ball, and got a visit from the coast guard. The nice islander guard reminded us that that area was marine protected, and charged some money for the ball. Al told him that it was our third time there, but nobody had come before to collect any fees. He did not comment. He also did not show up the next day, so the fee was for the whole week- end. (They think they are protecting the area, which is the outer portion of the bay, housing RUBIS oil storage facility. The morning we were about to leave, an oil tanker came to the bay, and anchored. While I was releasing the moor lines, I noticed the oil floating on the surface of the sea. The tanker of course was the culprit, out of reach of the law!)

We came back to Belmont and anchored close to an old mono-hull called Twostep II. We know the name, the first boat of a Canadian couple, the Shard s who went around the world and published their experienced in the boating magazines, books and videos. I had read that they had sold Twostep and got a bigger boat made to their specifications.
We saw the owner, another solitary elderly man, puttering around on his own, and going around in his wooden dinghy, a smaller version of the standard rowing boat. I could not ascertain if he had bought the boat from the Shard s.

Next morning after breakfast Al looked up and saw that Twostep was too close next to us. The wind was blowing really hard all night, and his anchor had dragged. His dinghy, which was tied to his back, was caught in our anchor snubber, and pulling the boat towards us. Al immediately asked me to bring the boat hook to untangle the dinghy, and afterwards jumped into our dinghy to help the man. He profusely apologized, indicating that his engine was somehow not starting. We assured him that it was not his fault, but it was kind of lucky that he stopped when he was caught up with us. Al pushed him with our dinghy, a safe distance away from us, and dropped his second anchor to get him stop there. After that day, we greeted each other while passing. The other day Al saw the coast guard coming to his boat and taking him somewhere. Al speculated that he must have asked for their help, and maybe they took him to a hospital or something. His boat was deserted for a while, although his dinghy disappeared and reappeared several times, but he was not anywhere to be seen. Last night his boat was quite close to us again, but downwind from us, and I could not detect any lights, although his hatches and door was open. This morning his boat looked quite a distance from us, then we noticed that coast guard had come and pulled Twostep II to a mooring ball, and tying it. The anchor must have dragged again, and the coast guard was there in no time!

Our funniest encounter with the coast guard involved a young man on a catamaran. While we were coming into Belmont the other day, we passed by the catamaran, and saw that the young man was doing something at the foredeck, buck naked in broad daylight. Al exclaimed and I looked, not for long mind you. I guessed that he was European; they do not mind being nude on water, neither do we. Anyway, we saw the man (wearing shorts) in his dinghy, having a heated discussion with a couple on a mono-hull. Then he raised one of his oars like a weapon, and started shouting for a while, then went back to his catamaran. I saw the lady of the mono-hull jumping in her dinghy, and whizzing by towards St George’s bay. A while later the mono-hull started to prepare to leave.  At the same time the Coast Guard vessel came to the anchorage slowly sailing around and checking out the boats there, especially the catamarans, ours included. Then they sailed away towards Grande Anse.  The lady on the mono-hull suddenly jumped in her dinghy and rushed after the Coast Guard vessel. A minute later the coast guard approached the catamaran with the nude guy, having its sirens on, and boarded his boat. The guy rushed inside to put on his shorts, and came out to answer questions (I presume). He went to the coast guard boat, then came back and brought out a rectangular bag (his boat papers probably), and was taken by the guard to Carenage, St George’s. We wondered if the coast guard was responding to a complaint from the lady; however their response was swift and forceful. later, they brought the naked guy back after a couple of hours. The problem was not major it seems, but at least some form of law enforcement was made known to the guy. A good thing!

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