For the last few days, the RCMP’s great big, catamaran police-boat, the Higgit, has been cruising our area. It is a fabulous vessel. Goes fast. Bristles with equipment. Ooooh….quite a show of power! That boat could not have been built for under $2M dollars and most likely, it was twice that.
It appeared to have a crew of three. Each of the officers is paid well in excess of $100,000.00 a year and, with support costs for them and the boat, the $300,000 is more like $600,000 or even more (docking, maintenance, insurance, a second crew, support staff, offices, benefits….and the list goes on and on and on). Operationally, it has to be well over $1M a year. Oooooh, quite a show of money!
“Wonder why they are out here? They have been out here ‘boating around’ now for a few days. Must be nice work. Probably comes with overtime pay. Maybe danger pay, too.”
“Well, your questions may be answered. They have just pulled someone over right in front of our place.”
The great big catamaran (maybe 60 feet) had ‘loud-hailed’ a small 16’ runabout coming down from up coast to a dock just south of us. We knew the boat. We did NOT know the two people in it because they were heavily clad in wet weather gear. It was pouring.
The police bellowed, “Please come alongside. We have a few questions. It will not take a minute.” The little boat swung alongside. My binoculars revealed a man and a woman. She was about 40 or so – I saw that when she removed her hood. The male’s face was not revealed. They were addressed by the officers for a few minutes and then it looked like she was providing the officers with ID.
Most of us do not carry ID. Or a watch. Or money. Maybe some younger people carry a cell phone but it finds a reception signal only rarely. Had they stopped me, I would have had to say, “My name is David Cox. You are going to have to trust me on that or run me in or shoot me. I carry no ID.”
Then one of the officers left the police-cat and boarded the small vessel. That is a bit like a third person joining two others in a small walk-in closet. No one could move. Still, the boarding officer took the time to poke around as best he could. To give them the ‘authority’ to do that, the officer likely checked around for some absence of safety equipment or some stupid small vessel operator’s license. They need a reason to bully people. They usually find one.
If the runabout’s operator’s were polite, cooperative and obsequious, they may have gotten off with a warning but there is no doubt the cops found some deficiencies in safety equipment and paperwork. Even I could see that the registration number was not on the side of the boat and most boats around here run with minimal safety gear.
It is not as if the locals are cavalier or reckless and need policing for their own safety. They are way more safety oriented than the dimwitted police. Plus, they have plied these waters for years and know everyone on the coast, every nook and cranny and most of us just zip along not 100 yards from a shoreline. And yes, life jackets are 95% common (I am one of the few without). The police, on the other hand, have come up here several times over the years in smaller, ‘bristling equipment’ boats with giant engines and all decked out in layers of vests and radios, guns and batons, boots and crap NOT knowing even which island they were facing (swear to God). They rarely know where they are.
They regularly damage their boat because they do NOT know how to read a chart. If any cop falls in the water, they are going down like a granite boulder because they can’t float with all that crap on nor can they swim. They can hardly move on their own boats and cannot move if they board one of our smaller ones.
The main RCMP training is done in Saskatchewan. RCMP management and head office is in Ottawa. The small boater’s licensing test was designed for the lakes back east. What the RCMP knows about seamanship is akin to what Trump knows about astrophysics (although I admit that the Higgit seemed to have a designated skipper rather than just a junior officer). We watched as millions of dollars in equipment and staff time were employed over several days and the only purpose we could ascertain was to ‘check out’ the 16’ runabout going home in the rain.
They kind of had to have something to write in their report log, I guess, but I hate it. I hate the tyranny, the bullying, the stupidity and the incredible waste of resources.