Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Crowd Welcomes Us in Bermuda

As customary, upon arrival in Bermuda we first cleared customs and immigration. Afterwards, since the winds were favorable, we went to the fuel dock. Already my captain and I were reminded how friendly Bermudians are. It felt good to be back. We anchored and commenced cleaning the boat and ourselves in preparation for going ashore for some land time, a cold beer and a good meal cooked by someone else. About an hour later, things took a wild turn.

A police boat flew into St George’s Harbour and immediately pulled along side us, insisting that we return to the customs dock immediately. The police boat circled the boat while we put the dock lines and fenders back on and lifted anchor. (We could already see people out on boats with their binoculars!) We were escorted to the customs dock where over 10 assorted officers & officials were waiting for us. Several of whom promptly boarded us with a dog. They were looking for drugs. Meanwhile others questioned my captain and me separately. After the dog found nothing, two men searched the boat. Luckily they were not destructive to anything as they apparently often are and lawfully can be.

Thankfully we had nothing to hide, but it was still an unnerving experience. Especially hearing all the whispers (voices travel far on/near water) from onlookers (there was a cruise ship in town) and people waiting for the ferry.

Eventually we were safely on anchor again, but the talk of the town. As my captain said “we were tried, convicted and sentenced by a large peanut gallery."

Endless chats about the ordeal with friends and other locals confirm that this was not a routine search or training exercise (apparently only the big boys were present). What little we can learn is that the authorities had been tipped off, which is the most bazaar part to us. Many believe we were either used as a decoy or they had our boat mixed up with another. Despite trying, no one can find out anything more so we’ll never know. If I learned one thing it's to not assume anything the next time I see drug dogs on someone else’s boat or on or in their anything. Interesting how we jump to conclusions. Even our closest local friends who were witnessing the crowd drawing event admitted that they were saying to themselves, "couldn't be so, could it???”

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