Day 138 – Boarded by Customs!

Day 138  2nd December 2010

11.30 – 18.00

Corcubión – Muros

Nearby was tethered behind us and I asked John if he was sure we should tow her.  He seemed confident! We motored out of Corcubión and got some sails up.  Hand steering was difficult as the sea was a bit confused.  It was really cold and the wind and rain was biting.  My gloves were quickly soaked and I asked John to steer whilst I went to the loo.  I couldn’t fasten the studs on my over trousers as my fingers were so numb.  Later when I was dropping the head sail, I could feel them slipping off and went below to try again to fasten the stud.  Success! John was going through glove changes like a gynaecologist!  The man must have 40 pairs!

The rain never let up all day.  I was sitting under the canopy steering when John came towards me with huge padded mitts, gratefully I put them on and continued to steer.  At this stage we had the engine back on and John was taking down the mainsail.

I saw a dark boat on my port side, it looked official but was about 3 or 4 miles away near the point I was steering for. It came past, still port to port and it was Aduana, the customs.  It was a mean, scary looking vessel, all dark and sinister.  Even the life preserver was covered with a black cover, I guess in case the reflective patches would betray its approach. John’s voice became very deep as he commented that it was a customs boat.  “Ahem, Ahem!”


I looked around and there it was, turned and coming astern of us.  I checked the VHF was on, and there was no comment or request to heave to and prepare t be boarded.  The boat came really close and I was annoyed because I was not sure what they wanted or if I was meant to do anything.  I continued to hold my course and the boat turned away but at a very slow speed.  John called them on the radio in Spanish and eventually they responded.  I asked John what the deal was and he said “Oh, they just wanted to know where we had come from and where we were going”

“Look John, they’re launching the RIB, they’re going to board us!”

Sure enough, within minutes the patrol boat and the RIB were coming along our starboard side preparing to board us.  They had tied alongside us in seconds and two burly customs men stepped aboard.  They left one to look after the RIB and he slowly began to freeze to death.  They were very pleasant, just taking details of the ship and passport details from John, next I was called, and John took over at the helm. 

I produced my passport and watched as I was given a new name – Meraid Éireannach?

They wrote it straight from my passport.  


When they do some checking of my passport number, there will be no match.  I wonder will they ever check.  It was funny listening to the official try to pronounce my new name, it looks very exotic. They inconvenienced our arrival at the anchorage by about an hour, but we made it in daylight.  We anchored in 38 feet then a couple of hours later in a squall, we dragged about a quarter of a mile in just a few minutes.  I chucked the outdoor gear back on and John raised the anchor while I motored to a new position where we reset the anchor in 18 feet.

Gosh I missed the stove despite the smoke, it was Baltic on the boat and the condensation was dripping from everywhere.  There was snow on the hills surrounding the anchorage.

What a week it had been in the life of a sailor/adventurer!

Whatever next?

Menu today

Breakfast –Croissant and butter – real butter again! Porridge with brazil nuts, cream and maple syrup

Lunch – Cheese and tomato roll, fruit cake

Dinner – Chicken escalope, potatoes and carrots and butter! Crème Caramel followed by an Irish coffee

Snacks – chicken cuppa soup, fruit cake, banana.

Meraid Griffin

Freelance writer, adventurer and public speaker. Descibed in the Sunday Times as a 'modest explorer'. Nothing modest about me.

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