Crossing the border into the good old US of A brought back lots of memories. My Captain’s Log shows that at about 14:00, on May 10, 2011, at N32 32, W117 12.06 we entered US waters. The sail across San Diego was nice, wind was good, skies clear. I counted 6 or 7 black helicopters and 3 pairs of fighter jets overhead during the 2 hours it took us to cross the San Diego bay. Looks like the military has been pretty busy.
The real surprise was entering the channel. I didn’t think we were that suspicious looking, but they really rolled out the welcoming committee.
San Diego Coast Guard patrol boat
This little guy was fast, and armed. But the “back up” unit really impressed me:
Sub leaving San Diego
So we tied up at what is called the “Police Dock” to clear customs/Immigration. The crew stayed aboard, and I climbed up the dock to the payphone, and called Customs. Then I returned to the Sea Bear, as instructed and waited for the agents to come to the boat to clear us in.
I expected dogs, and an possibly a search of the boat after being asked many questions about what I was trying to bring into the country. Instead I got two armed Border Patrol who, after very few seconds, told me, as Captain, that I could get in big trouble…smuggling illegal aliens into the country! Yes, our German crew had no Tourist Visa, they had instead a “Multiple Entry Visa”, and I don’t carry blank Tourist Visa’s aboard. The senior agent seemed to be on quite a power trip, or at the least, his strategy was to see if he could shake me up. My reply was ” I don’t see how it could be smuggling, they are here in front of you, with Passports and Visas.” He then focused on them. Demands for “papers” sounded like an old comedy skit. Then for another ID (I guess the German Passport is too easy to forge??). Then lots of questions. When the crew stumbled over language issues, I tried to help out, and was brusquely told to be quiet, and not interfere.
This went on until the Police Harbor office closed (5 PM) so we couldn’t check in and get the codes for the shower. It may have also been their quitting time, I don’t know. But all the sudden, they took both Nils and Carolin to their van, issued all the needed paperwork, and asked one question – “Bring any vegetables with you?” When I said “Yes”, they pointed to the trashcan on the dock, and left. No Dogs. No searching. We could have had another dozen Germans stashed in the v-berth and/or master cabin. <sigh>
We visited with a good friend, Meg, and picked up some needed engine parts. It’s a change to overhear conversations in English, and the prices of everything is flat ridiculous. I’m gonna have to find a job paying bazillions to afford avacados. And gas is $4.65 a gallon??!?
Well, still, it’s good to be back.