Break-in at Cap Sante!

4-13-23 (Day 1)

La Connor to Anacortes- Cap Sante

“Why it is not a smart move to mess with gals from Ohio!” or “You are not stealing my boat, asshole!”

The first couple of days of the journey have not exactly been filled with sunshine and rainbows. We knew that we were going to experience some pretty radical and variable weather on the way to Alaska in April because, well it just isn’t summer yet.

We left La Connor a day or two later than planned because one of our battery charges in the engine room decided to exit this world. On the one hand, we were glad to still be in La Connor when that happened so that we could get the replacement parts. It took two days to get the parts shipped to us at the dock and Andrew installed them and decided to leave that day so that we could at least get to Anacortes, fuel up and then start the voyage. But as luck would have it, we arrived at the fuel dock and they had closed 15 minutes earlier than advertised. So we had little choice but to call the dock master for a slip and pull the boat in and wait until morning. We figured we could get up early and float over to the fuel dock and take on the 350 gallons of fuel that we will need for half the summer and then head out for Annette Inlet in BC. We tied the boat up and grabbed our wallets and took the 10 minute walk into town to grab a bite to eat at Dad’s Diner, a pretty well rated local eatery with good burgers and sandwiches.

We were a little irritated that we were delayed another day waiting for fuel because at this time of year the good weather windows are harder to find so you really must float when the wind and the waves aren’t at their worst or you be prepared to accept a pretty nasty ride through places like the Straits of Georgia, which just happened to be our first real navigation challenge on the trip.

We finished dinner and took our time and walked back to the boat. We arrived, did a few little projects and then zipped up canvas closure around the back deck. On my way in, I locked the salon door, which Andrew made fun of me for, saying that it didn’t look like a dangerous place. I ignored him and locked it anyway. We shut off the lights and settled into the master to start watching the last season of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

We were about halfway through the episode when I decided I needed a drink of water. I got up and walked up to the kitchen but when I came up the stairs, I could see the shadow of someone climbing onto the aft deck, into our boat, through the previously zipped canvas covers. I shouted down to Andrew that someone was on the boat and then I rushed to the door before he could see me and unlocked it and grabbed the Halibut Gaff ( pictured below), and confronted him. It sounded like this; “What the hell do you think you are doing? Whatever it is you don’t want to be doing it on this boat buster!” I shouted as I pointed at him with the tool. Now if you know what a halibut Gaff looks like then you probably know what he did next. Well, I can only guess that he first and foremost peed or pooped himself because I imagine that he thought the boat was empty, otherwise why would he attempt to break in! The fact that he was just caught red handed and that I had stormed at him like a mini version of a grizzle bear probably added to the surprise. But I think the sight of that halibut Gaff clinched the deal and sealed his exit strategy for him. He dived back out of the boat, over the tuna door and down onto the dock, faster than an Olympic high diver. (Idiot couldn’t have known much about boats otherwise he would have opened the tuna door and walked in and out.)

I stopped for a minute but was so mad I came out after him and he was babbling about getting on the wrong boat and looking for Charlie at Slip C24, we were at slip C32. He grabbed the little wheeled half-size suitcase, that had been waiting for him on the dock, and he wheeled away as fast as he could. I suspect the suitcase was filled with tools used to hotwire and steal a boat like bolts cutters, screwdrivers etc. Still a bit shocked at what had just happened, I stepped back in to get my shoes and noticed that he had damaged the zipper and canvas and now I was really pissed. I guess I was channeling my baby brother and decided that this dude needed a proper beat down. So……… I followed after him, figuring Andrew was behind me, and that there would be other people on the dock. I planned to catch up with him and shout thief and then we would group up and take him out at the knees!

He had run ahead and up the ramp and out of the marina. A couple in a boat closer to the marina office had seen him and said that he was babbling as he ran past them. I said he was just chased off my boat where he broke in! I started to storm past and the guy was like, wait a minute, where are you going? I said, “to see where he went.” He said, “by yourself”? The guy grabbed his shoes and climbed off his boat and convinced me to go back and call the police. As I was walking back, Andrew and I met on the dock. It all happened so fast that poor Andrew had just enough time to get dressed, try to figure out what happened and come after me. He only heard the last of it because you really can’t hear much when you are in the stateroom below. It took him a few minutes to put the whole thing together, get dress (he’s not a PJ guy) and then hot foot it out to find me and by the time we met up, he had called the harbor security. We then called the police together.

The police dispatcher took the report, and the police were there before we had hung up the phone. Very impressive. They looked at the damage and began taking our statements but before they could finish, we could hear the grinding sound of someone trying use a screwdriver to bridge the starter terminals to hot wire a boat on b dock, the next dock farther to the south. Now B dock is where all the local commercial fisherman slips their boats and if he had stolen one of these boats, he would have been taking away a fisherman’s livelihood and I am pretty sure that if they had been sleeping aboard when he tried, he would have had a few less teeth when the police came for him. The police officers quickly left with marina security and headed to B dock where they caught him boarding another boat to try and start that boat. He was arrested and taken to jail.

Later, Andrew asked what I was thinking about going at the guy like that? I don’t really know except for to say that over the last few years I fell that I have lost a lot. I lost my brother Tom who I loved and admired, I lost two years of my own life, I lost my business partner, I lost time on this very boat, I lost faith because having someone die a little at a time and not being able to do anything about it but give comfort just makes you feel weak. When I saw that stranger (asshole) breaking into the Patience, the boat we named after our beloved cat Patience, the boat that helped us achieve so many wonderful fishing memories with Tom, Andrew’s parents and our friends, the boat that kept us safe for crossings and so many bad weather days, I guess I went over the edge. At that moment I decided that I was not prepared to lose even one more thing. I was not prepared to feel unsafe in this boat and not prepared to let some Idiot damage my experience on this precious boat, so I fought back! Was it a good decision, probably not. Kids, I would not encourage this at home because home invasions can be very dangerous and often don’t end well for the homeowners. If he had been armed, I might have been injured or killed and none of it would have been worthwhile. I know how lucky I was, but that thief damn should know how lucky he was. He could have been going to jail with a halibut Gaff in his backside. My sister in-law called me a badass and I must admit that made me smile a little bit. I guess if you are willing to spend your time boating in the wilderness you must be prepared to take care of yourself, so I am ok being a badass if I have to be one, but I find it sad that you have to protect yourself against other human beings. It is just sad!

The next morning, we headed to the marina office and really expected the dock master to be more understanding and apologetic that this all happened in his marina, where he manages the docks and the security but what he was interested in was collecting the slip fee for the night that we spent in the slip. We asked him to comp our slip fee and he said and I quote, “if I had to comp a slip fee every time someone had a complaint.” Every time? Is it just me or does that sound like a marina with issues and a lot of complaints? I didn’t say much because well frankly, I was not going to be able to hold my tongue and I wanted to tell the Harbor Master just how stupid he sounded with comments like, “if we comp every time someone has a complaint”, and “think about that as a feel-good story that you can tell about how you saved other boats,” and I hope he never has to comfort anyone for real because I don’t think he does not have the skill set!

The whole conversation left Andrew and I both feeling that he could have cared less that our experience was bad. Nor did he care that we were responsible and called the police and helped get the guy arrested. He said and I quote, “well just think about that as a feel-good story that you can tell that saved other boats”. I have never heard so much rubbish coming from someone who is literally paid to care. Dock master? More like an office monitor.

Perhaps he would have preferred that we just did nothing and spoke to the police the next day at which time the thief would have had ample time to steal a boat. Perhaps the other boaters in Cap Sante should be wary of the “security” in the marina. Perhaps the commercial fisherman using B Dock would have more to say on the subject. Funny and as luck would have it a very large fishing vessel on Dock B stopped us in the morning and told us the story of their boat being broken into and thousands of dollars of equipment being damaged and stolen so the story hardly sounds isolated. In fact, just on the way to fuel dock we heard several other stories about break-ins, so WTAF This infor also didn’t really track with the story we got from the dock master.

So, we paid our slip fee and we won’t be going back there for anything. I think that the harbor master at Cap Sante needs to re-evaluate a few things like the meaning of customer experience, goodwill gestures, and what security really means. Cap Sante needs security gates and control access and better security watch, cameras, schedules, etc. I would suggest since, and I quote, “they don’t ever comp slip fees”, which I hardly believe, but if that is the case use those dollars they you save on goodwill gestures to get in the game because it is not a safe place to be if people can just walk onto the dock and slip into your boat and float away with your investment.

But what fun, now we get to follow a criminal case in Washington as a victim and hope the judge will award damages for the actual damage done!

11 thoughts on “Break-in at Cap Sante!

  1. omg – glad you are both unhurt and that only minor damage occurred to Patience. That looks like a deadly weapon to me….

    1. Carin,

      Afterwards I was reminded how bad a home invasion can be by my husband and he absolutely mentioned Vegas for sure. I remember! I hope you are Bob are doing well and that Tax season didn’t exhaust you but I think I know how that goes.

  2. Wild! You’re lucky he wasn’t armed but I hate a thief and admire your temerity! Like tk think I’d done the same. Way to go! And that Harbor Master needs some Disney training. Be safe and be careful!!! W

  3. In addition to the gaff, we have a halibut harpoon. They’re a flat and powerful fish, so, when you get them close to the boat, you use the harpoon body to drive the tip all the way through the fish, and the tip comes off and turns sideways on the other side. They can’t get away then, because the tip’s roped to a boat cleat. This guy’s lucky Tammy had moved the harpoon to the flybridge.

  4. I have known you were a strong fearless woman ever since I was on the Patience and you suggested we set crab traps in the dark of night near an isolated shore in a small dingy where there was a good chance of bears or other creatures not found in Texas. Even when the motor died, you kept your cool. I pity the thief stupid enough to not run away.

    1. Hi Bob,

      Yes, I remember the trip well. Only wish we had been able to catch more fish! Hope you are doing well and enjoying retirement. Miss my Houston friends and family but Houston is always on my radar…

  5. I am so thankful he wasn’t armed and you and Andrew are safe! What a way to start your trip. Hopefully things will be a lot less scary with good exciting instead of bad going forward!

    1. Thanks John. We are fine and weather has settled so we are heading out today. It will be a long day, 12 hours but we will recapture at least one of the lost days at anchor.

  6. Andrew/Tammy,
    I’m so thankful that you all came thru this “boarding ad enture” OK. Now you see piracy on the seas and in harbor. Stay safe and giaft him in the back side next time. May be he’ll think twice before he breaks in on someone else.

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