Hello, Sailor

Unlike many of our boating friends down here, we went almost 19 months without any boarding by the Mexican Navy. During our recent departure from La Paz, we finally got our “turn.” You’re not going to see a great photo of these guys, we weren’t sure it was even cool to ask them about being photographed, so we snuck in a few shots from a distance.

The panga (~24 ft.? open boat) that approached us (we were motoring, not sailing), put two men aboard our boat, while two others cruised around us and took photos of the boat (or appeared to). We’ve heard jokes that their guns have no ammunition, so perhaps their cameras have no film or memory cards, but we would not want to test them on the “ammo” question.

The two men who came aboard limited their visit to our cockpit. They had no interest in looking around “down below,” contrary to the experiences of many other cruisers who have even had their equipment, such as radio gear, below-decks be photographed. At least one of them brought a serious large weapon aboard with him (Bill thought it was along the lines of an AR-15 or -16, we didn’t want to be too nosy).

One the sailors spoke quite good English and conducted an interview that consisted mainly of what type of (primarily safety) equipment that we had on board, how many radios, engine type and maximum speed, liferaft, etc. The second guy made notes on a clipboard. When the process was finished (~5 minutes?) they had a short survey (in Spanish) for us to check and sign. We noted (or at least intended to) that they did their job efficiently and politely. Fortunately we had just provisioned in La Paz so we had some individual packaged cookies (bought in part for this purpose) that we gave to the guys as they departed. We’ve seen some small hints of their life “at sea” and it and their boats do not look plush by any means, the least we can do is give them a little something as thanks for watching out over us mariners (they do have a good reputation for responding to requests for assistance).

Navy guys decide to skip a visit to Firefly in Balandra.

Then, two days later while at anchor at Puerto Balandra a few miles north of La Paz (our first stop!) we were visited AGAIN. This time by a different crew (maybe they heard about the cookies from the first set of guys, but our shopping had not anticipated two visits so close together!). Another interview in the cockpit with slightly different questions, first guys asked if we had drugs or guns aboard, second set didn’t. Their English comprehension was not as good because we were unable to explain that we were just boarded two days previously (maybe it wouldn’t have mattered).

This was also a quick visit, check and sign the survey at the end. There were three other boats in the anchorage they could have boarded, but after finishing with us the guys left, maybe they had an emergency call to respond to.