Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pursued by security guards in Spain

We didn’t know what kind of very weird adventure awaited us when we stopped for one night in Puerto de José Banus at this port that could easily be called the St-Barth of the Mediterranean with megayachts lined up at the main dock in front of the most expensive stores and where Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Porches are as common as the low class Mercedes, Audis and BMWs! We, poor sailors with no revenues, came along in our dirty dinghy, attached it at the wall of the marina and dared walking these streets paved by the money of the higher castes. We even were bold enough to have dinner with Karli and Roger on La Palapa at a nice seafront restaurant. Dinner and company were charming but when we came back to the dinghy at the end of the evening a security guard was waiting for us on the dock. We didn’t notice him in fact until he tried to stop us from getting into our boat while calling for some backup. He didn’t speak English or French and clearly wasn’t something good for us so we ignored him and yelled at him when he tried to prevent us from untying the line. Usually, men from authorities such as police officers use firm and directing tones of voice in order to control us but in this case it was us who were talking down the poor security guard who probably only received two hours of training before getting his oversized uniform. The scene was happening right in front of two amused bystanders sipping their drinks on the waterfront. We left the dock and the poor powerless guard while the two bystanders were sending us thumbs up with big smiles in approval of our defiance. But we were totally unsure of what he wanted from us and it was obvious that they would be looking for us along our way out of the marina so we had the brilliant idea of hiding in the dark behind a dock for a moment which tactic has the same effect than an ostrich burying its head in the sand. We tried calling Karli and Roger, who came back to their boat about 45 minutes before us, on the VHF radio to know if they had any problems with the marina security but got no answer. Then we saw a boat leaving its berth in the back of the marina with huge search lights at its bow. Hidden in our little corner we felt like two teenagers who had done something bad and would get grounded as soon as they get busted.

After a moment we decided that it was better to leave fast then to wait for them to get too organized and we moved at normal speed toward the entrance trying not to attract any attention. But the boat seemed to follow us while guys ashore were shouting at us to stop. It became very clear that they really were onto us and that our tactic of leaving unnoticed was a miserable failure hence relegating it to the archives of dumb ideas. Following the same genius reasoning Danielle said “Come on, go go go!” and I pushed the motor at full throttle as we passed the fuel dock and with a very calm sea around us we planed immediately and left the entrance of the marina at full speed. At this point we thought “Oh my god, oh my god we are fugitives now!” even though we were pursued by security guards not units of the Marine Corp! For some reasons the other boat behind us didn't accelerate immediately and because the breakwater wall of the marina had a dog leg shape we had to turn south to exit the protected area and this made that for a short moment we were out of sight of the pursuing boat but not really of the guys ashore shouting at us. Going directly west toward Chocobo anchored not very far would have been obviously stupid so as soon as we were passed the breakwater I turned south-west toward the sea until we were well passed Chocobo. With no lights we were probably hard to see on the water, even though it was a near full moon, because by then the boat with the searching lights was out of the marina and flying at full speed due south. At this point we taught that this was probably just a boat leaving the marina and went somewhere else and we slowed down while turning toward the shore were it was clearly dark. We came back slowly to Chocobo hidden by the darkness of the night and with the music of “Mission Impossible” in our mind while the other boat was getting further south. But as we were raising the dingy on its davits it turned back and returned toward the marina with its search lights moving in all directions. They were really chasing us down We thought of leaving the anchorage immediately and go back to Marbella about 3 miles east but revised our decision when we saw that the boat had turned and seemed to have lost our trace. It would be less suspicious if we stay and just leave at 0700 am the next morning as planned and that’s what we did. We never heard of them afterward. Of course we still have a zillion unanswered questions from that story. What exactly were they expecting from us? Paying 50 Euros for using their holy wall? How much did it cost us in fuel to chase us at full speed with their big boat? How can the guys on shore be so stupid not to be able to follow us under a full moon as we ran away and tell the guys on the chasing boat? Did the guard on the dock get shit from his boss for being such a puss and letting us go so easily? How come they didn’t come investigate the only two sailboats that were anchored outside the marina? I mean, where did they think the dinghy was coming from exactly? Everybody managing a marina or a port knows that sailboats use inflatable tender boats to get ashore but these guys flew straight due south thinking we would sail directly offshore in the Mediterranean Sea aboard a ten foot inflatable boat! Do they recruit their security personnel directly from the Spanish Institute of Graduated Morons or what? But the real question that remains a mystery is what was wrong with those guys anyway? Everybody attach their dinghy to the main port walls when going ashore and no one ever bother us for the simple reason that we are not really a nuisance. I think those guys really need to get a life because they seem to have way too much time on their hands. But this whole story has the merit of having put some excitement in our cruising of the Med. After dealing with the corrupted officials of Central America, crossing the largest oceans of the world, sailing through blood thirsty pirate waters and dealing with Egyptians our trip was getting pretty dull and this poor security guard had as much chance to control us as a sardines, found in great numbers in this part of the world, to eat us alive!