Sunday, June 2, 2013

Game Warden Files--Staten Island, part 3

One of the new guys out of the academy was John.  He was only in the region a couple weeks when he went back to the academy again for Defensive Tactics Instructor school.  He was young, eager to work hard, and fun to work with.  Early on with John we were out on the water in New York Harbor in the Mako and saw one of our local lobstermen tending a pot line about a half mile off the sea wall along Brooklyn's Promenade.  This lobsterman, though not a bad guy, was something of a bandit--as were most of them.  At that time, the big issue in the harbor was undersized lobsters.  We always assumed that they were being sold to either neighbors or small restaurants in the lobstermens' neighborhoods, as they never seemed to make the major markets.
I'd caught this guy once before at the dock as he was off-loading about 200 short lobsters, so after we'd watched him long enough to see that he wasn't throwing anything overboard, so we assumed we'd find him "holding shorts."  Our boat was readily identifiable, so our method of approach was to disappear for a while, hide behind a larger vessel going in the direction of our suspect boat and then appear from behind it to make our surprise visit. It usually worked pretty well.
All went pretty well actually.  We ran a few miles out to sea and got lost among some inbound tankers and freighters.  We got down in the wake of a rather fast moving freighter and waited until we were in what we thought would be the right place to make our move.  I hit the throttles, pointed the bow over the wake and as we crested the peak of it saw the lobster boat RIGHT THERE!  Apparently he'd move off the line he'd been working and was now on another one.  So, here we were, surfing down the other side of the wake on a collision course with a much larger boat.  I put the throttles in full reverse, and as my mind recorded the scene in slow motion, the wake passed beneath both boats, bringing our deck on the level of the the lobster boat, John stepped very gently aboard the lobster boat, with all the workers busily pulling pots on the other side.  I blew the siren to let them know they'd been boarded, and disappeared behind the wake as it passed beneath me.  I can only imagine the minds of the lobstermen when they heard the siren, turned around and had seen ECO's standing on the deck of their boat, with only a wall of water behind him.  Where did he come from?
After the wakes had fully passed, I circled back to the lobster boat and found John calmly talking with the lobstermen.  After a complete check of the boat, he'd found them to be totally in compliance.  All that hard work for no violation; but I'm sure those lobstermen were always looking behind them after that!

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