Speaking English & Gun Transport in Foreign Countries

Overseas Radio Network – Speaking English & Transporting Guns in Foreign Countries

dahon bikeTopics in Overseas Radio Network Show 13, Segment 3:

  • Do you have to know foreign languages when travelling to different countries?
  • Bicycles, scooters, and other convenient transport to carry on board.
  • Declaring weapons in foreign countries.
  • Having a safe on board.

GARY FRETZ: Welcome back to our show. I am Gary Fretz and we are talking about transporting guns in foreign countries and speaking English.

For a transcript of this podcast, click below.

Is Speaking Foreign Languages in Port Required?

Now, Estelle, you are an expert on this, so please talk about do you need to know foreign languages or can you just get by on English.

ESTELLE COCKCROFT: You can pretty much get by with English everywhere. People are very, very friendly everywhere. They always want to help you. We did learn languages in the different countries, however. We learned to speak a little bit of Malagasy, a little bit of Turkish, French, Italian, by going to the markets pointing at stuff and people would give us the names of the different fruits or vegetables, or whatever we want to buy. And then, of course, going to the bar ordering your drinks.

I think those were the first words we learned in a different language. But yes, languages were never a problem for anyone of us. Certainly, I don’t think you found any problems, Stephen.

STEPHEN COCKCROFT: Well, remember, I am bilingual. I speak English and BS. So, you know, I got a wide range of communication skills. But, you know, languages are fun as long as you speak English. French is a good language to know. Spanish is a great language to know. But when you’re cruising and you’re meeting the right people who are very accommodating, you know, there are ways to communicating over and above just the language thing.

GARY: Very good…and talking about transport, transportation in foreign countries, is there anything else you can tell us about like how you get around? it just seems like kind of a mystery to a lot of people.

ESTELLE: Like we said before, you use the local transport, that’s the cheapest way to travel and the easiest way to travel. It is also the way that you learn about the country. And like we said, every country has a name for their specific transport.

GARY: Well, like, okay, if you get on a bus or something how do you know how much it is? Because it seems like when I am in a foreign country, they never show the price.

ESTELLE: No, it doesn’t. That’s why you want to go with the local people. Because inevitably somebody will take the money and say this is how much it cost and give the conductor the money or the guy who is in charge. And they never rip you off. Usually we found that with taxi drivers, you take your chances. But we have an interesting bicycle story, by the way, Gary.

GARY: Really?

Ways to Get Around While in Port

STEPHEN: Yeah, we used to carry these little fold-up bicycles called Dahons. Now I am 6’ 4” and built like a Greek God.

ESTELLE: Stephen looked like Tickey the clown. [laughter]

STEPHEN: And so, when I am sitting on a little Dahon bicycle that has like, I guess, 10-inch diameter wheels…this whole bicycle fits into a gym bag. You have to unfold this thing. Anyway, we got to Israel and I always carry weapons. I believe in carrying weapons. And we arrived in Israel and this gun boat pulled up next to us and, you know, and the Israel military ask us if I had a weapon and I said absolutely I have a weapon. So they said okay bring it with us. So I was put on this gun boat and they charge off to the port and I had to declare my weapon and sign a declarations and they kept my weapon in safe keeping. And they took me and put me back on the boat. And we went to the marina and had a great visit in Israel. That’s a story for another time. But anyway then I call them and told them, “I am ready to leave”. To send the gun boat to fetch me so I can get my gun back.

It was a pretty big gun. It was a shot gun and it looks like a giant Tommy gun. So it is not a little thing you can conceal. And they say, “No, you got to come fetch it.” And I said, “I don’t have transport,” and they said, “We don’t send a gun boat to give it back; we only send a gun boat to only take it away.” Oh, jeez! Alright, so I got my kit bag and I got this little bike and I unfolded it and got on it and peddled along. And I thought it would be a mile to the first gate to get in the port.

This is a port called Haifa which is a long skinny port that runs along the bay. Long story, short, I got on the 5-mile ride on this ridiculous little circus bicycle. I got there. They gave me my gun and I said, “Okay, now put me back on the gun boat and take me back to my boat.” They say, “No, no you can go.” I said, “You send a gun boat to take this from me, now you give it back to me and I am going to ride back right through the entire Israeli population with this giant weapon strapped to my back?” And they say, Yes, go.”

So there I was pedalling along and, you know, it was sort of like a semi highway and I am pedalling along. I got this gun strapped on my back and, as I said, it is a big weapon…pedalling along. And as I said, I was absolutely exhausted. When I got back it was terrible because the cars would go so fast the wind would hit me in the slipstream and I am shaking on the bicycle. But anyway, got back, got my gun, and then we decided and then we left. So sometimes you got to really think…next time I will just pay a taxi.

GARY: By the way, the first time I ever saw Stephen and Estelle in person, they cruise in to South Florida on their boat and he was on this little scooter they seemed to be made for 100-pound woman. And here he is 6’ 4” and how much you weigh?

STEPHEN: 200….

GARY: 200… okay, he rode up on this scooter. It was so ridiculous. This big guy, it was like I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Anyway now, concerning weapons, let me just tell you, I heard about this weapon. I don’t know if you have ever seen this, but I heard about this thing I never had one, but I always wanted one. It is a revolver flare gun and it is a totally legal. It is not classified as a firearm, you know, because it is a flare gun. And have you ever seen these things with the revolver and you carry them on the boat? And if you get hit with one of these flares, you are dead. I mean it is 2000 degrees of phosphorus burning.

STEPHEN: Hey, I just 2 days ago saw and it is actually not a revolver, it is a flare gun. It breaks like a shotgun and it takes a flare. Two days ago, I actually sold a boat 2 days ago we were doing survey and we went into the emergency kit. And I broke open the flare gun and inside was an insert that fits into the flare gun that take a 12-gauge shotgun round.

So, yes, you get all sorts of, I use to carry the little pencil flares which took a 2/2 round which you could carry in your pocket. So, you know, I am a big believer in, you know, you are sailing in international waters…you not doing anything wrong…it is for protection. And so if I am sailing around with whenever I go offshore, I always make sure that I am armed for my own protection.

Declaring and Securing Weapons While in Port

GARY: Now, some listeners asked about what is the procedure in a lot of these third world countries about declaring weapons and having weapons on the boat I mean can you just talk a little bit about that a lot of people are wondering about that.

STEPHEN: Well, you know, that every single country has a different rule. What I had was, I had a locker that you could lock and you could put a seal through it so that if customs came on board and they weren’t going to take my weapon I would agree with them I would put the weapon in the locker. It is like a safe and there is a place where they could put a seal through it so they could make sure that I didn’t access it while I was there.

But every country is different, you know, some countries, you don’t declare them. For example, I went and told them I had a weapon. I gave them the weapon number, etc. and they made me promise I wouldn’t use it. So I promised and that is the end of the story. In Israel, they sent the gun boat to fetch it.

In Lebanon…I sailed into Lebanon and they came on board and asked if I had weapons. And I told them I did and they took it away. They called me Al Capone after that ‘cause, as I said, that gun looked like a giant Tommy gun. Most European countries after that, including Turkey, just wanted to seal it so that you didn’t use it. A lot of them, you have to declare how many rounds you carry. Some countries, they don’t even care. They don’t want to know and essentially it is not your weapon. The weapon belongs to the vessel. So whenever I declare it, I declare it as the ships weapon and the ship’s equipment.

GARY: Yes, and I have talked to other cruisers who have been around some of the Banana Republic countries of the western Caribbean and they were told, you know, “Oh, you have to declare your weapons and bring them into the police station.” And they do that and, you know, they guy puts a tag on it or something and they say, “When you are ready to leave the country just come back and get it.”

Well, when they came back, they’d lost it. So that’s why sometimes they don’t declare it. Now, let me ask you something. Don’t you think it is a great thing to have like a safe on your boat? And did you ever have that?

STEPHEN: Yes, Gary. We have a safe on our boat now. We used to have a secure locker that we could lock and seal. But now we have a safe. You know, generally, if you carry weapons it is always good to have a sort of a throw away. One you declare and I always keep an extra 1 or 2 just handy.

GARY: I think that’s great advice. And we have run to the end of this particular show. And I want to thank you for all your stories and comments. And you have been listening to “Yachts: The Perfect Escape Vehicle” only on the Overseas Radio Network.


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