OK, folks, everyone has to take a look at this series of messages just copied from the AGLCA forum. All I can add is that this reminds me very much of the lyrics of one of my favorite 1960’s songs:
“It’s a strange, strong world we live in, Master Jack!”
Memsahib was stopped by Homeland Security for a routine document check about 10 miles south of Tarpon Springs. The Coasties didn’t even come aboard — we just handed them our papers and that was it. But it was a nice day and they hung around talking about the boat and the trip. etc.
One of my comments was that I couldn’t understand the economics of the stone crab business because on our Gulf crossing we started seeing pots 32-35 miles out of Tarpon in 50 feet of water. How could anyone afford to fish those traps? The boss security guy became very, very interested and asked if they were rows or singles (singles and pairs), whether there was evidence of any otherpot lines in the area (no), whether we saw any suspicious boats (no — just that night’s Looper Flotilla). Seems that planes are dropping drugs way out and marking them with crab pot floats so nobody thinks anything about it.
Thanks to a rendezvous with Catmandu to dodge pots, we were exactly on the rhumb line to Buoy R4, so I was able to give them a pretty accurate description of where the pots were, but I didn’t have my tracking feature turned on, so couldn’t give them a GPS fix.
I would strongly suggest that if any future crossers see single spots way out in deep water, that they plug in a waypoint and phone it in when you land. Also, that’s another good reason to reach Crabland well after dawn,
since running into a black Cigarette boat full of drug fishermen wouldn’t be any more fun than snagging a pot line.
For what’s it worth, when we came across last week, the crab pots appeared to be in straight lines, typical of normal fishing style. When we saw a single, we sometimes had to really look for its mates but normally saw them. Also, we observed typical lobster boats working those traps. That said, everyone should stay alert to suspecious activity. Cruisers are the best eyes and ears for Homeland Security and they know it.
Tom’s right, what appear to be isolated pots could well be in lines so far apart that they are hard to spot. Still, I felt badly that I couldn’t give them a good fix, and hope any ohters spotting really dodgy ones will do so.