Atlantic crossing from Bermuda 23

Sun 8 Jul 2007 11:28
Finally managed to find time to finish and sign off.
 In  the last I mentioned the possibility of surprises...... Change of plan on Saturday mainly due to the autopilot failure. Everyone very tired and fed up with having to steer by hand or constantly fiddle with the self steering. Michel decided to head for the Scillies as it was the easier option.  A fairly calm sea but very drizzly and cold as we made our approach under engine. As darkness came down we were abe to see the Bishop Rock lighthouse off to port but still some 10 miles off. Other lighthouses and flickering bouys came into view as we came nearer. We identified the Cardinal Bouy off the Spanish Ledges which was our aim point and were soon able to round it and head up St Marys sound. By now it was as black as a bag and still drizzling making it difficult to be sure of our way. The lights at the end of the breakwater were just visable but we decided to take it very wide remembering the rocky shore on its approach. Another boat, which we assumed was a fishing vessel, had been trailing since we rounded the buoy,  they started to turn towards the harbour entrance showing us their port light.  Deciding that we had been cautious enough, we started our turn towardsthe harbour entrance and throttled down a bit, at that point the engine stopped dead. A fresh breeze from the west was pushing us quickly towards the rocky shore of Samson, just visable as a sillouette, scarily close. Prompt action by Michell and co. had the anchor down in 30' of water and we swung around to face into the wind.  At that moment all hell broke loose, a black rib, loaded down with black suited and helmeted men, surged alongside. I just had time to register the 'customs' sign painted on the side before they were over the rail and being very aggressive, shouting to find out how many people were aboard and getting us all to assemble in saloon. We were not particularly worried as we knew there was nothing illegal aboard. They stayed with us for the better part of two hours during which time they took 'swabs' from various places on the boat and sent them to their mother ship, the one that had been following us in we found out afterwards, for analysis. They searched the obvious places on the boat and must have decided that we were innocent as they left it at that and made their departure. The departure was a bit hairy as by now the sea was kicking up a bit making it difficult for them to get back aboard the rib.  We had been buzzed by a plane the day before while we were still nearly 100 miles out, I asked the officers if there was any connection but they wouldn't be drawn on the subject.