Monday, November 21, 2011

Adventures of the Yellow Bikini

Ok, it really wasn't much of an adventure, but we did have a bit of excitement after we left the French side, and moved to the Dutch side of Sint Maarten. We moved over to Groot Baai/Great Bay on the south side of  St. Maarten and dropped anchor there, as we have some friends coming in on one of the cruise ships. Great Bay is where all the cargo and cruise ships come in to St. Maarten; it was simply serendipity that we would be here  "on island" during their cruise, so to Great Bay we went! Rather to our surprise, Philipsburg is quite lovely -- one of the nicest cruise ship ports we’ve ever visited! There is a nice anchorage area, deep and clear, with a long waterfront beach area fronted by small restaurants, bars and caf├ęs; numerous shops and boutiques are on a parallel street away from the water. The only drawback for smaller cruising boats is that you get waked a bit from the relentless cruise ship tender traffic. (Think of ants coming off an ant farm…they are non-stop!) Still….a decent anchorage despite that.
Equinox in Groot Baai, Sint Maarten
Then, the next morning we had an….um, international incident of a minor sort! While Ron was ashore checking into taking slip at a nearby marina for a day or so (to get our hull waxed), I was out on the back deck, in my fun bright yellow bikini, and a t-shirt cover-up. I was busy working on our aft deck table, re-attaching one of the legs which had decided to drop some of its screws and take itself for a walk. While I was working on securing the table leg, I noticed the Dutch Coast Guard cruising about the bay in their intimidatingly large black pontoon boat. I didn’t think too much about it; there has been a Dutch warship offshore the last few days conducting all sorts of exercises. We'd heard them on the VHF, hailing all nearby vessels underway, plus there were helicopters checking out smaller moving craft, and the Dutch Coast Guard inflatables were out in force, checking on anchored vessels. So, the Coast Guard was generally making their presence known.

Then, the third time I looked up from my task, the big black inflatable was about three feet from our transom and the Dutch Coast Guard was asking permission to board Equinox! (Uh…sure, ok!) Three of them manned the inflatable while three other young men came aboard with big black boots, uniforms and holstered guns, requesting to see our documents, clearance papers and such. As we stood in the salon, I was a bit embarrassed to be dressed so casually (feeling very bright yellow for myself) but I presented our papers and passports and answered their questions: what was our last port, how long were we staying in St. Maarten, what country were we going to next, etc. Then they asked if they could inspect the boat, which I admit, I wasn’t really expecting. I was thinking that they would check our helm for safety equipment (flares and such) but where did they go? They immediately went down below to our cabin and started opening up the cabinets, looking into each closet, and opening random drawers. I was startled and then...mortified! Why?? Certainly there weren't any undeclared guns or weapons, drugs or illegal aliens, nor even flares or other safety equipment for that matter, but we did have a small stash of um…er…hmmm..."adult toys" in one bedside cabinet. It was the first cabinet opened, of course! 

Yes…as I stood there blushing beet red, I began wondering what the Dutch laws were regarding such items, and could only imagine the headlines at that point! But nothing was said, no comments were made, and the young officers simply moved on to inspect different cabinets elsewhere: in the heads, the laundry locker and the other stateroom. Ron returned to the boat just as the Coast Guard was finishing their inspection; they assured us that our papers were in order and that everything was fine! While professional, everyone was all smiles as they shook our hands and took their leave.

Ron seems to think it was the yellow bikini that caught their attention and caused the Dutch Guard to swing by. I'm not so sure, but one thing is for certain: cruising is always an a yellow bikini or otherwise! 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.