November 7, 2007

Special Ha-Ha Bulletin

The Grand Poobah sent in the following succinct report: "At the start of Leg 3, with 160+ boats and more than 600 people, having too much fun to write. Seventy-two souls stranded on beach last night due to high surf – no casualties reported yet. Air temp 80 degrees, water temp 84 degrees, chutes all over the horizon, fish everywhere. See ya later!"

Sailboat Thefts

While Johnny Depp is charming as Captain Jack Sparrow, he may be having a bad influence on Florida’s thieves. For some as yet unknown reason, 35-year-old Daniel Johns thought it would be a good idea to steal Robert Caco’s Morgan Out Islander 41 Segue from its slip near Naples. Last Thursday, Caco dropped by the marina to check Segue‘s lines before Tropical Storm Noel hit — the lines were in great shape but there was no boat attached to them.

Caco immediately called the police and began searching for his "little home on the water" from his daughter’s small plane. He’d just returned from a 10-day cruise a few days before so he knew the thief couldn’t have made it very far traveling at 6 knots. On Sunday he got the call that the Coasties had found Segue about 30 miles north of Cuba.

Owner Robert Caco thanks his lucky stars that Segue was found.

© Robert Caco

Johns was alone on the boat and authorities found no evidence of contraband. Drug and human trafficking are common activities in Florida but police have not been able to determine Johns’ motive for the theft. He’s been charged with grand theft.

Then on Tuesday, 26-year-old transient Giovanni Stoll was running from cops after carjacking an SUV in Panama City. Instead of trying to outrun the police, Stoll drove the commandeered Silverado into a bayou and swam out to a moored sailboat. The owners of that boat shooed him away so he swam to a vacant boat. The cops watched with amusement from shore as Stoll struggled to raise sail while the sheriff’s 27-ft Boston Whaler, equipped with two 225-hp engines, bore down on the thief. He surrendered without a struggle.

It actually surprises us that more sailboats aren’t stolen. The locks on most boats we see are wimpy at best, if they’re even locked at all, and many boat owners we know keep their engine keys close at hand and easy to find. As winter closes in and your trips to the marina grow more infrequent, take a good, hard look at your boat’s security and figure out ways to beef it up. Move anything that could easily ‘walk away’ (snatch blocks, outboard, BBQs) into the boat or your garage, talk with your neighbors about a ‘marina watch’, take the engine keys home and upgrade your locks to ones that aren’t easy to cut with a hacksaw or bolt cutter.

Does anyone make a Club for boats?

© Winners Int’l.

Big Brother Run Amok

We knew sailors were an opinionated bunch but you guys really had some things to say regarding Monday’s report that Homeland Security wants to initiate bomb searches on rec boats:

"This administration is doing everything it can to create a police state, using the pretext of protecting us from terrorism. The terrorists who are the most likely to cause us harm are in D.C., mainly in the White House." — Jeff Hoffman

"We do not need this becoming another ‘airport security sieve’ wherein the huge effort at inspection and control becomes clearly futile, judging from the tests that have been run. It provides another deterrent where none exists, but is clearly not a failsafe answer." — John McNeill

"Another way for someone in a uniform to harass and terrorize the recreational boater. A big waste of taxpayer money. How are they going to control small radio controlled model boats (like a drone) from doing harm?" — Klaus Kutz

"The concept of Big Brother boarding my boat for no reason except that I might be a terrorist is absurd and frightening." — Steve Morrow

"My son and I were in our kayak in the Oakland Estuary near Coast Guard Island when I realized we were being tracked by somebody with big binoculars on one of the Coast Guard cutters. We were well out in the channel – not headed their way – but it was creepy." — Paul Burnett

"There may be some minute truth to this, however why doesn’t Homeland Security deal with more realistic threats, like what if those terrorists figured a way to stuff a nuclear bomb up the ass of a turkey? It would be hell trying to get all those gobblers screened in time for Thanksgiving." — Jerry Metheany

"Security measures do indeed need to be adopted, but tactfully so as not to supplant our freedom. The terrorists have won yet one more time, not by attacking our shores, but by breaching our civil liberties, the real fabric of America." — Marc Longwood

In an effort to step up national security, Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff announced plans last month for a new anti-terrorism initiative that would screen and inspect small recreational boats for bombs.
As Farr as the eye can see – Wicked and Racer X struggle to make wakes during yesterday’s SYC Midwinters.
In the August 10 edition of ‘Lectronic we wondered about the origins of a ‘Mystery Boat’ washed up on an outer island of the Marshalls.
Five years ago, young Michael Radziejowski was bitten by the sailing bug in a big way.