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Deep-Sixed the Guns off Mexico...

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Travis McGee, Dec 26, 2006.

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  1. Travis McGee

    Travis McGee Member

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    Well, I just arrived in NE Florida at dawn on Christmas Eve, after leaving San Diego in late October on my home made steel sailboat. Okay, but what's the gun-related aspect of this? Well, I had planned to bypass Mexico entirely, due to it's tradition of shaking down gringo yachties when given the chance, particularly when it comes to guns on board. In Mexico, guns on yachts are just plain prohibited, period. "Declaring" firearms in Mexico is like declaring herioin or Semtex.

    Well, the winds were so light the first few weeks of the voyage, that it became clear we'd have to stop for diesel in southern Mexico, or risk being out of fuel and stuck off the Gulf of Tehunatepec, notorious for sudden dangerous gales. In this area, the currents were 2-3 knots against us, we were becalmed, and lingering there waiting to get slammed by a "Tehuantepecer" gale would have been really stupid.

    So the difficult decision was made to dump the guns, before heading into Huatalco Mexico for fuel. I've always advocated keeping basic and cheap guns on board, so this decision was a little easier. The day before arriving off of the coast, we had a shooting festival off of the stern of the boat, firing several thousand rounds of 5.56mm out of the Mini-14, as well as .22LR, and .357 and .38.

    The most fun was heating up the Mini with a few hundred rounds rapid fire, and then "quenching" the entire rifle by submerging it into the ocean off of the swim platform. You should have seen it make the water boil for a few seconds! Then we put more mags into it and kept going, for several 100 more rounds, repeating this process several more times before the first failures to feed. These were cleared and the gun kept firing. This is no way to treat a rifle...unless you are going to chuck it into the ocean anyway.

    As far as why I didn't bouy and cache the iron...the coast is too deep, too close to shore. It was over a 1,000 feet deep within easy eyeball range of shore. I wasn't about to risk 10 or more years in a Mexican prison for the sake of under $1,000 bucks worth of easily replaced generic firearms. And in fact, when we entered port, we had a "welcoming committee" come aboard in black BDUs, black kevlar helmets, M-16s, and with a German Shepherd!

    So now I'm in the market for new boat guns, and SHOT Show 2007 is only two weeks away!
     
  2. george29

    george29 Member

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    Nice to be rich, never had that opportunity but glad someone else can and brings us a different point of view. Next time, leave a few hundred dollar bills where the Mexican Police will find them, I hear $$ gets you out of any predicament over there.
     
  3. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    You were shooting those guns in the wrong direction.
     
  4. jamz

    jamz Member

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    HEck, if you own a boat, a thousand bucks is nothing. :) Betcha got a shortwave radio on board worth five times that.

    Sounds like a recklessly fun, once in a lifetime good old hedonistic time though!

    What other guns besides the mini did you have to dump?
     
  5. hagar

    hagar member

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    Next time, take an SKS! And I would rather throw mine overboard, than spend a single $ bribing some corrupt mexican official.
     
  6. Fu-man Shoe

    Fu-man Shoe Member

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    That's an interesting story.

    Too bad about your loss, but sometimes I guess you've
    gotta take unsavory actions dictated by unfortunate
    circumstances.

    Just an idea, but what if you had a sort of well..how
    shall we say.."discrete" type of waterproof compartment
    located on your hull somewhere, beneath the waterline.
    (perhaps by the stern, towards the engines)

    If it were bolted close on, and only accessable by a diver
    in the water, well...it'd be your little secret, I suppose.

    Just an idea.
     
  7. Kaylee

    Kaylee Moderator

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    Wow -- thanks for the report. I hadn't thought about that aspect of shipboard life. So.. what prevented leaving them at some known GPS location was the depth was too much for an anchor line to make finding anything again possible? Am I understanding correctly?
     
  8. dm1333

    dm1333 Member

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    Leaving the guns in a "secret" compartment is a bad idea. In the Coast Guard we regularly use things like underwater cameras, divers, etc. to check for things like that. It wouldn't surprise me a bit to see Mexican cops doing the same thing. Better off to dump them than spend the rest of your life in a Mexican jail. Buoying them and trying to retrieve them later is also not the best idea. People regularly pull markers, crab or lobster pot buoys, etc. to see what is attached to them. It would suck to have your guns stolen then used in a crime where they can be traced back to you by the serial number. I know of a few people who carry a few flare guns and plenty of flares for safeys' sake.;)
     
  9. Travis McGee

    Travis McGee Member

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    Rich? You all got the wrong sailor. Why do you think I have a HOME MADE steel sailboat? I don't even have radar or a SSB radio.

    As far as why I didn't cache them at a GPS point etc....the water is too deep for that, even 1/4 mile off shore. Like over 1,000 feet deep. Way deep. IOW, any place I could have done that, (very close to the shore) some local fisherman or beachcomber could have spotted the float and checked it out, or what ever. Not a risk I was willing to run. Ten+ years in a Mexican prison, vs. a few generic guns? Not even close.
     
  10. grendelbane

    grendelbane Member

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    There are some people who claim that the mini is unreliable. Nice to see that yours took so much abuse before it malfunctioned.
     
  11. FerFAL

    FerFAL Member

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    Hi Travis! Merry Christmas.
    Good to hear from you. Take care out there.
    Edited to add: Good call in not risking Mexican jail, would have done the same myself.

    FerFAL
     
  12. hoji

    hoji Member

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    Thank you for the report.
    To anyone who pipe in "Why didn't you just hide them?"
    Think about this. An empty .22 shell can get you 5 years in a Mexican jail:what:
     
  13. theCZ

    theCZ Member

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    Great story! I'd love to hear more about your adventures on the ocean.
     
  14. Travis McGee

    Travis McGee Member

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    Grendelbane: Reliability is one of the things I liked about my very old stainless steel Mini. As long as it has good mags, it would always shoot. Not a tack-driver though, that's for sure! But on the ocean, I don't really aim, I adjust fire by the splashes. Just keep banging away, looking over the barrel, watching the splashes. A boat on the ocean is moving too much to use anything for a rest, all shots are "off hand" with a rolling deck beneath you. But the nice thing is you can see your splashes impact the water at any range, and you just "walk" your shots to a boat-sized target. Usually we use balloons for targets, they stick to the water, and get further and further away until they are out of range if you don't hit them. And half of the time, they are hidden on the reverse slope of waves.

    CZ: here's a cut and paste of something I wrote today as a recap about the voyage.

    Dec 26th, 2006

    San Diego to Panama took forever, mainly due to lack of wind. The Panama transit took, I think, 8 days from arrival to departure, which is really fast considering all of the bureaucracy involved. The actual canal transit took two days, with an overnight moored on Gatun Lake. (Ironically, I went through the Canal to the Pacific 9 years ago to the very day.)

    The trip from Colon Panama to the Yucatan Channel was "dramatic." First, we headed east for 2 days toward Cartagena Colombia, to get "easting." At the bottom of the Carib, the east winds bend north, so we followed the old Spanish Galleon method, of using this north wind to fist sail east. This "easting" then gives a sailboat a favorable "slant" to head for Yucatan on a near reach instead of having to beat to windward.

    After tacking to the north, we really took off. The winds at first were NE, then east, as we expected. The winds were never under 25 knots for the 2 weeks, and we sailed under a storm trisail on the mast, and a storm jib on the staysail stay. This was a total of 400 square feet of dacron canvas, as opposed to 1,400 square feet of "full working canvas!" IOW, the wind really blew, but hey, what do you expect crossing the Carib in December?? The waves were always about 10-12 feet, from the side. Anyway, we made about 130 miles a day, which is great for a 48 foot steel sailboat weighing about 35,000#.

    After rounding the western tip of Cuba, things went way downhill. We were planning to motorsail to Key West, to get more of an upwind angle. After a couple of hours, the Perkins died from fuel starvation. This happened as well about 50 miles south of Balboa Panama, so I thought a rapid fuel filter change would solve the problem. It didn't. After a full day of trying various things and bleeding injectors etc about 20 times, our battery levels were at the point where we had to give up, in order to have enough power to run navigation systems etc. As it was, we ran the next 2 nights in the Florida Straits without our electricity sucking Aquasignal tricolor masthead light. We only put it on when ships were REALLY close. (We were getting a dozen ship contacts a night in the FL Straits.)

    Since the wind was right on the nose from Key West, instead of a one day motorsail run, we had to beat to windward under sail only for 2.5 days, until we were about 100 miles south of Key West, when we could finally tack over one more time and lay the course for Key West. The high point of the trip was about 30 miles south of Key West at 4pm, when our "collision avoidance radar detector" started making a bizarre rapid chirping, unlike the slow sweep of ship radar. 30 seconds later, from out of the cloud cover, roared a big white USCG C-130 Hercules, flying 500 feet above the waves. This was a great welcome home! I called CG Sector Key West to put in a status report, and really to thank them for the flyover. 20 minutes later, the C-130 returned from the other way, and banked around us at low level while rocking its wings. This was a huge thrill, to get two C-130 fly-overs as a "welcome home."

    We sailed up the main ship channel into Key West and anchored off the Key West Bight. All of this was done purely under sail. Next day we were Seatowed the 1/4 mile into the Key West Bight Marina. Two days later, a diesel mechanic pronounced the problem to be purely bad fuel, and the engine was restarted after some tank cleaning. (I have great access to my 150 gallon fuel tank. I can sit on top of it in the cargo hold in the center of the boat at the bottom. It has an easily removed 10" circular inspection plate on top. I built the boat, so I made sure I’d have good access to things like this. It really pays off in the long run.)

    So we let the engine run for a few hours at the dock, and at 2 PM on the afternoon of Tuesday Dec. 19th we were ready to head out again, for the final leg to NE Florida. We motored out of the perfectly calm marina into the channel (with lots of wakes and chop) and the motor crapped out again. This was a major bummer. We coasted right to a nice anchoring spot across the channel, and I went to work again on the fuel tank in a major way. The motion of the boat in the channel must have shook loose more gobs of sludge, which then accumulated around the bottom of the fuel pickup tube (1/4 inch ID stainless). This choked out the engine again.

    So I pulled off the inspection plate again, and created a little fork device about 3'feet long with wire barbs on the end, to scrape the entire interior of the tank's walls. The added motion of being in the channel assisted by moving the sludge gobs down to the bottom of the tank, like gold nuggets in a pan. After a few hours we restarted the motor and ran it at higher RPMs for over an hour at midnight. Even with the boat motion out in the channel, it ran without a hiccup.

    Next morning we ran it another hour to make sure, and then we took off again. Once out of the Main Ship Channel we turned east, once again with a 25 knot east wind on the nose. You cannot power a heavy sailboat with high forward windage into the 8 foot close period waves this kind of head wind produces, so once again we had to tack off SE under sail, until we were about 90 miles south of Miami.

    Once we had a favorable slant we tacked north and really took off. The wind went to SE and we were in the Gulf Stream. We were making 9+ knots over the ground by the GPS, which is really flying for my boat. Two days later we arrived at the Mayport jetties at midnight, and because it was an ebbing tide, it took 7 more hours to reach our new marina. We tied up at dawn on Christmas Eve. I never thought, back in San Diego, that the voyage would take so long. After our slow transit to Panama, I thought we would be very lucky to make it before Christmas. With the engine problems, I really doubted it. But we persisted, we really pushed the boat, we got some breaks at the end with good winds, and we made it.

    Now the boat is way up the river, safe and sheltered. It needs a lot of major refitting, hauling, painting, new everything just about, but at least it's on the same coast that we're living on, and we are 100% out of "Aztlan."

    I had great crew the entire way, no whiners or crybabies, all real men, my brothers. Also my wife gets major kudos for running my book business in my absence (better than I ever did it I should add.) She also was "home base" for the voyage, sending out the email updates and keeping everyone up to speed on our progress. All's well that ends well, and now my voyaging is over for the foreseeable future. Next I need to focus on writing my third novel in the trilogy, "Foreign Enemies: State of Emergency." (The subtitle is not certain.) I will say that Ranya will not be the main character in FE, it will be Phil Carson from EFAD, and it will be focused on the Southeast and central states.
     
  15. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Member

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    Travis, nice trip (no ocean passage is complete without exciting moments).

    Disregard the suggestion for a secret compartemnt. Just having one on your boat makes it subject to seizure for being outfitted for smuggling.

    I'd rather dump the guns than try to bribe Mexican officials. Then you may lose your guns, your money, and still wind up in jail.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2006
  16. ripcurlksm

    ripcurlksm Member

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    Good story, glad to hear you're back after quite an adventure! Stay dry Travis. :)
     
  17. Kali Endgame

    Kali Endgame member

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    What you should have done is landed, signed up for welfare, demanded a drivers license and petitioned to recieve SSI.;)
     
  18. Gun Wielding Maniac

    Gun Wielding Maniac Member

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    Why not seal the guns in plastic, run rope from the bag to a balloon, and drop the load in some isolated shallow spot? IT seems better to me to risk having the guns stolen then to simply throw them overboard and certainly lose them to the ocean. Screw the Mexicans.
     
  19. atblis

    atblis Member

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    Well

    it could be worse. If I had to deep six a rifle, the Mini14 would be near the top of my list.
     
  20. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Wow, and I thought John D. McDonald was dead.
     
  21. cassandrasdaddy

    cassandrasdaddy Member

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    mexican jail!!

    shudder!! i'd rather remarry wife one than go to a mexican jail.
     
  22. roscoe

    roscoe Member

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    I have wondered how they would treat one of those Mossberg line-launchers. They are essentially a white-painted 12-gauge with a barrel blocker of some sort. Seems like you could rig up a spear gun with it.
     
  23. mljdeckard

    mljdeckard Member

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    cassandrasdaddy said it all. Try to weigh a thousand dollars worth of guns, vs winding up in a Mexican prison. If you wind up in the prison, you wouldn't hesitate to give up the guns to get out.
     
  24. AZTOY

    AZTOY Member

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    Sorry about the guns.:(


    I want to see a picture of this boat!
     
  25. Zoogster

    Zoogster Member

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    You know the Mexican constitution actualy has a clause borrowed from America to have the right to keep and bear arms? However in that clause they included that the police and government could determine what type of arm was suitable. So now only .22's are legaly suitable, yet a full auto AK-47 can be had illegaly for like $500 by most Mexicans with street connections.

    Funny how you have to disarm yourself heading in the direction of the most dangerous nations in this hemisphere (Columbia, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Venezuela etc) where you actualy can run into modern pirates that cruise up in powerboats with AKs and have thier way with the people on board. Many people travel in convoys of other sailors to deter this and avoid the most trecherous areas entirely. It is a pretty good way of life for some. Some radar, and a fast cheap powerboat are all such modern pirates need to see you coming from far away. They can scrap the boat, or simply rob and scuttle the boat after doing away with those on board or kidnapping for ransom from relatives in the USA as is common in some of those places. Over 90% of them go unsolved in Columbia as well.

    Yet you have to ditch your firearms...
     
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