It was great to be back in St. Pete. The weather was ideal for walking along the pier, riding bikes, taking a dinghy ride through the harbor and having dinner at the end of Albert Whitted Airport runway. From there we headed south again, and back to Cabbage Key where we took the dink ashore to check out the Cabbage Key Inn and their famed cheeseburgers. The story goes that their take on the all American classic sandwich inspired Jimmy Buffet to write "Cheeseburger in Paradise." We intended to try it last year, but we arrived for dinner, and burgers are only served at lunch! It was worth the wait. More on that soon over at the food blog, MarthasGalley.blogspot.com.
A day or to later, enroute to Sanibel Island on a gorgeous day with a classic 'blue sky breeze' we had some surprise visitors. Christine and I were chatting in the salon, when I overheard the Cap'n responding to a call on the radio
Radio Voice: "How many passengers do you have on your vessel Cap'n?" (that's a weird question, I thought)
Cap'n: "Three, plus myself."
R.V." Please ask your crew to gather in the cockpit, then slow your boat and maintain that speed. We are going to board you"
Me: "Huh? Who? What's going on?" I called out as I jumped up to look out the window
There on our port side was a large black inflatable boat, with three Lee County Sheriff's Dept. agents dressed in full camo gear complete with flak jackets. Guns at their hips.
By now, Andy was in the cockpit, readying a line, but the officers simply jumped aboard once our speeds were in sync -- I think they had done it before.
While one officer engaged Christine and I in conversation in the cockpit, the second joined the Cap'n and Andy in the pilot house. First order of business, I suppose, was to hear us speak, and then to assess our demeanor. Before long, the Cap'n asked me to locate our boat documentation. The officer's eyes followed me as I descended the steps to retrieve the paperwork.
Next we were asked to show our safety equipment: radio, flares, ditch bags (supplies in case we have to abandon ship). When, at the Cap'ns direction Andy pulled out the Gumby Suits ( to be worn in case we have to abandon ship in cold waters) the officer realized we were set for most anything and stopped asking questions. After reviewing our ID's, they motioned to their mothership and in a flash, they were gone.
"What was that all about?" I wondered out loud. The officer in the cockpit had revealed he is typically on Gangs and Drugs duty. Our dinghy can outrun Freedom, so I hardly think they thought we were running something. But you never know, I suppose.
"Pretty Girl stop," was the Cap'ns theory -- the officers just wanted to see if Freedom is as good lookin' on the inside as she is on the outside. Who could blame them?
No matter what the reason, it added more than just a bit of excitement to our week.
|Lee County Sheriff's Dept. motoring away from Freedom after a boarding|