Its always dangerous to feel chilled and having reached that state a visit from customs late on Saturday night 04/07/2015 (23.00 hrs ish) broke the atmosphere. The announcement was ‘hello we are customs and WE ARE coming aboard, sorry for the late hour’ and I managed to interject you ‘you are only doing your job’ he said ‘yes we can do it here – the cockpit’ he was already aboard. I recalled some pilot book highlighting the importance of humor and courtesy and so i said ‘ no please come below’. ‘We need to see your papers’, ‘ah passports’, ‘yes your ships papers first’.
I have only been boarded once before by customs, and being younger and in my own country I asked for identification, on this occasion that did not seem like the right move.
Passports were presented, but the interest focused on the ships papers, and there followed the explanation that the previous owner built the yacht and there was no VAT receipt other than for the hull. First mistake was to provide an out of date small ships registry, followed by an apology and the current copy. The boss appeared to be a ‘lady’ carrying three stripes with an older officer acting as an interpreter.
Four armed customs officers on board is something to be remembered.
Finally all questions were asked and answered, but the passports had been passed to another colleague who had disappeared with them ! We were told radio checks needed to be made. Ages seemed to pass, and thoughts turned to what a French prison might look like. Even the lady and interpreter seemed to look uncomfortable at the time the checks were taking. All the small talk was used up and they just looked at us, until finally the lady shouted something to the other two customs officers on the boat and the reply seemed to be satisfactory as were bid good night. I gingerly asked if I could have the passports back …. the request was met with a smile, and an oh yes here they are.
So no longer is a British passport in its own right satisfactory it has to meet some other computer checks … hold that thought – and remember computers never make an error do they.
Why pick us, I guess we were on the central pontoon which is not linked to the shore and I don’t think they had a clue where Grimsby was.
Oh, and there was no interest in our flares which apparently the usual favorite check, disappointing as ours were all new last year.
Having taken a day or so to recover, we had hopped to move on tomorrow, Tuesday, but the wind has other ideas so it looks like time to try and chill again 🙂
At 04/07/2015 18:27 (utc) our position was 4938.78’N 00137.21’W