Day 152 – Customs Again!!!

Day 152 16th December 2010

Bayona  – ???

Faraway John handing our papers to Aduanas

Had my last shower in Spain, possibly my last shower of the year, knowing John’s patterns! Any I sneaked in a few items to wash (despite the sign insisting that clothes should not be washed in the showers). The yacht club was amazing, just the laundry cost, €12.50, well unbelievable really. The Marinero, whose arms I fell into whilst trying to get onto the launch, took me back to the boat for the last time. He put on a sad face at the news I was leaving and gave me a hug, kissed me on both cheeks and wished me bon voyage! He was the kiwi fruit Marinero!

John had rowed ashore to stock up on the following;

 Fresh water – 20 litres

Diesel – 60 litres Sails – x 2 (the Portuguese boy’s dad’s friend had left 2 for us)

Double safety line x 1 (for me, the dodgy thing I’m expected to wear is diabolical – a three strand rope split with………well it’s totally unacceptable)

 I was getting the handy billy ready to hoist Nearby on deck, when I came across the broken battery charger, the one John said he would dump in Wales! He just moves things about, hides them from me, but I am all seeing and all knowing about these things! Below decks, I got the shock of the day, I saw John’s bunk! That could only mean one thing, the coats had been hidden somewhere else. It was weird being able to see it, I preferred it when it was hidden. I wondered when and where I would find the coats. I will tell him that I know he has sabotaged the water pump in the head. He just doesn’t want me to use the water. Apparently it’s a trick regularly used by Skippers. Actually, I will offer to take it apart and fix it, that’ll get the wind up him! John brought back all the items on the list plus, some extra line, like we need more? Finally, we were prepared for sea, with the decks reasonably clear and we were bound for Portugal, where my ancestors were from before leaving for India. About 3 miles out, a helicopter flew over, I looked up and I couldn’t believe it, Aduanas again! They flew over again, low enough to have a good look at me and I had a good look at them and they left again. I kind of sniggered to myself how funny it would have been to be boarded from a helicopter then thought no more about it. Well whaddya know, there’s a big Aduanas patrol vessel approaching us at speed astern of us. As usual, no communication on Channel 16. John and I went out and asked them in Spanish what the hell they wanted this time. This was the 4th time in a fortnight they were going to board us.

Aduanas alongside Faraway

I was seething and told them they were harassing us and asked if they had nothing better to do. John gave them a mouthful in Spanish, then told them he wanted to speak English. The tirade continued, first John, then me. We said we wanted our respective embassies called if they attempted to board us. We handed over the paperwork and I took a picture. They warned me no pictures, I said, you took a picture of me, I will do what I like with my camera. They threatened to withhold the paperwork when John asked for the Aduanas name and number. They were unbelievably unprofessional. Their final act – they motored away astern of us from the direction they approached, then when they had built up enough speed, turned back, came flying along our starboard side leaving the biggest wake ever to hit the boat in my entire 5 months aboard. I almost lost my footing and the books above my bed fell off the shelf and a carton of milk was spilt. John went on the VHF and told them that he was reporting their appalling behaviour and the danger they put his crew in. He said it in Spanish so that all ships in the area could hear us. I went back to cooking the dinner, but so was so cross about the entire affair. I said “John, I’m going to write to the King, yes I’m going to write to King Juan Carlos and let him know how two foreign sailors came to Spain, saved the life of a drowning Spanish Fisherman and in return were boarded by officials at anchor in Fisterra, boarded in transit near Muros, boarded at our mooring in Bayona, a helicopter sent out to circle us, then another attempt to board us which we objected to about 5 miles south of Bayona.  The final straw, when they acted like petulant teenagers with daddy’s power boat and attempted to upset us with their wake, putting both John and I at unnecessary risk. All this in the space of a couple of weeks or so! Now all of this officialdom I could understand if they thought we were high risk smugglers or pirates, and came aboard and searched us, but, here’s the deal – They seemed to enjoy completing paperwork for the sake of completing paperwork! After all, for the 4th time that the paperwork has been examined, completed, examined again then double checked, it seems they still haven’t realised that Meraid Éireannach does NOT exist! I wonder how much this has cost the Spanish Government? They didn’t check us with a sniffer dog, or even look anywhere. It might have been really interesting to see what they could uncover! John thought they might find his lost gold!

By 1800 we were becalmed, engine on, then a little breeze from the North and we got motorsailing. After dinner I went to bed to get some rest before my night watch. I was still a bit highly strung even though it was 2030, but before getting undressed, I took down the Spanish courtesy flag, stuffing it into the kangaroo pouch of my beloved red fleece, we were in Portuguese waters at last. Adios España! I got undressed and into my sleeping bag. I was just at that nodding off stage, when I could hear John walking over the hatch. A powerful engine was turning, John said disbelievingly, “Hey, we’ve got company!” I pulled on my clothes in a hurry. 

Were we going to be boarded by Portuguese customs now?  I told John to dig out the spotlight and to call them on the VHF and tell them to identify themselves.  We were lying a hull, waiting to be boarded again.

John had gybed trying to avoid a head on collision.  I told him he should have called me to help.  They identified themselves as the Portuguese Coastguard and asked us if we were ok.  John explained that he was extremely on edge due to the behaviour of Spanish customs and had gybed trying to avoid them as they seemed to be heading on a collision course with us.  They had come across the bow and shone a spotlight on us. Thankfully, they took our details over the radio asking for passage plans, where we had come from, how many onboard and our nationalities.  They said good night and that we could call them if we ever needed to.  Back to bed again for another attempt at some rest.  John decided to motor through the night.

Menu today

Breakfast – Porridge with apple raisins and cinnamon, pain au chocolat, croissant

Lunch – Cheese on toast with a tomato salad and a chocolate bun

Dinner – Chicken in a cream and leek sauce with potatoes and carrots (everytime I have chicken, I think Boomba, mmm, que sexy!)

Snacks – Orange, rocky bar, dried pear and apricot, fresh kiwi Designed by Tim Sainburg from Brambling Design

Designed by Tim Sainburg from Brambling Design

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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