BOARDING in Ponce!

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Yes, we got boarded in the Ponce de Leon Inlet area by two very intimidating fully armed Coast Guard Officers! They were checking MSDs, the heads for onboard vs. overboard. The boarding was VERY fast with very little warning and they were in the cockpit through the zipped enclosure before either one of us could even say, “Sure, come aboard!” Two officers boarded while one maintained his boat speed off our stern quarter. These guys were fully armed and with full bullet proof vests and they were very intimidating and LARGE! I welcomed them aboard and they asked…”Sir, if I were to place dye into your toilet and pump, where would that dye show up?” I answered that it would show up in the holding tank. “OK, we would like to inspect that,” and below they went with Radeen following behind. I kept driving around the markers, avoiding the many shoals and making my way through the inlet.

Down below…. As usual with us, we are pumping into our holding tank and keeping a count of the down strokes on a sticky note on the head wall. We know that 330 down strokes fills the holding tank, and our sticker was at 210, so were not yet full. Radeen gave the guards a tour of our head, pointed out our tabulation sticker, and then opened up the locker and explained our plumbing system, showing how it was going into the tank. The lead officer decided NOT to put the dye into the head and pump. Next, they checked our photo IDs and our vessel documentation numbers, asked us our destination, and left promptly to go board the next of 6 sailboats all heading south.

I thanked them for their services and their work, but they were too serious to accept the compliment. I will say, this was a very stressful situation, and I cannot imagine how scary this would be if you WERE breaking any laws. This is only the second boarding on Island Spirit. The other one was offshore approaching Block Island from sea in 2002, under sail with a reefed main. Those three officers boarded our leeward side and were onboard just as quickly. They were training a new officer in vessel boardings. I am happy to help with their training and their work and I appreciate that they are doing the work they are doing. Now let’s inspect a few more container ships BEFORE they arrive in port!

Map…of boarding location

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