Show me the proof!

Scalawags and the lack of a ‘moral compass’

Had a very disappointing experience at 22nd St Landing in San Pedro. On Aug. 2, I was taking family to Catalina Island. As I always do, I had my inflatable dinghy in tow behind my boat. At about noon, while we were about a half mile out of Angels Gate Lighthouse (L.A. Harbor) my nephew looked behind us and said, “where’s the dinghy?” I turned the boat around immediately in order to back track and retrieve our tender but, search as we might, it was nowhere to be found. I was having trouble understanding this, in that it could not have been adrift for more than 15 minutes, in that this was the last time I saw it. I called the Coast Guard after about 20 minutes to explain. They took a full description and made an announcement over Channel 16 to all mariners in the area to be on the look out for an adrift vessel. The Coast Guard was very confident that someone would see it, retrieve it, either way report it to the Coast Guard or Port Police (Who I also called to report it missing) We had had to scrap our Catalina trip in order to do our own search, which encompassed my sailing all the way down the outside break wall of L.A. Harbor to Long Beach, then ran a “zig zag” pattern up the inside of the harbor back to San Pedro. Scanning all horizons we were unable to locate the dinghy that had somehow just vanished within the time frame of 15 minutes max. I repeatedly called the Coast Guard to see if there had been any reports and found that there had not. The Coast Guard advised that I, “report it stolen in that someone, under these circumstances, must have retrieved it without any intention of notifying us (Coast Guard) or Port Police”. He went on to say, “Unfortunately there are individuals out there that would take advantage of something like this if there is any tangible value to the vessel”.

I spent the entire next day driving around all of the Los Angeles and Long Beach Marina areas to see if there was any sign, without any luck. I was absolutely sick about it. Then, Aug. 4 I get a call from my slip neighbor that the pumpout service guy had spotted the dingy tied to the dock at the 22nd St. Landing, right there in our own marina! How could I have missed this? I had driven by there and gone by there on my boat the day that this happened and saw nothing. So I jumped in my car and darted down to the dock at 22nd Street and, sure enough, there it was! I saw nobody around and figured I might as well just jump in, fire her up, and get her back! In doing so, I immediately discovered that the fuel tank was missing. At the same time, I hear from a guy now standing in front of the tackle shop, “Hey…what are you doing?” I walked up and explained that this was my missing dingy and that I had been searching for it over the past two days. I added that I had reported it to both the Coast Guard and Port Police. I was somewhat shocked at the “new” attitude of this man who now decided to come at me with, “You’re not taking that boat anywhere”…”Uh…excuse me?” He went on to claim, “How do I know that this is your boat? Do you have any paperwork to prove that this is your boat?…You can’t just take that boat…the captain of the Monte Carlo found it adrift…towed it in here on Sunday”… Ok…my immediate thought was this: First of all, the captain of a commercial fishing vessel finds a boat adrift, unoccupied, and doesn’t report to the Coast Guard or anyone else that there is an unoccupied vessel adrift? He then takes it upon himself to tow it into his dock and still does not report this to anyone? The Coast Guard would have immediately contacted me, as would have the Port Police. What if there had been an occupant in this vessel that might have fallen overboard and was in peril somewhere? The family of that person would have never known what had happened. Next thing that happens is the pumpout guy that originally informed us of the boat being there shows up. I figure this will be very simple. I tell him, will you tell this guy whose boat that is? So He proceeds to explain that he knows for fact that this is my boat and that he has seen it at my slip and seen me in it several times. The response he gets is, “I don’t know that. You are probably in cahoots with this guy”….At his point I am getting the obvious idea that this “scalawag” has an eye on making off with my boat! Next, I call two other friends. One is my slip neighbor and the other a friend of mine who has not only been on my boat, my dingy and known me to own this boat for the past 20 years, but is also a very good friend and working associate of the owner of the Monte Carlo, whom he had just finished doing a substantial amount of work for. He explains to this (at this point I will refer to him as an unscrupulous individual) person that he knows full well that this boat belongs to me. At this point I have four individuals vouching for the fact that this boat is indeed mine but “scalawag” is obviously looking to capitalize on some kind of “finder keepers” situation, when it wasn’t even he that found it.

Eventually I was forced to call the Port Police who came down and sorted things out to what I like to think of as “Moral Ground”. I guess point to this experience is that there certainly are individuals out there looking to take advantage of anthers misfortune. This is the same guy that is going to grab your fishing rod that you left against the railing, pick up the $20 bill that just fell out of your pocket and not say anything or simply lay claim to anything that you cant “prove to be yours”. I believe that all boat owners have an instinctual moral compass. Of course, the direction of that compass for the scalawag that looks to own a boat by these means, I can not speak for. As far as how I missed seeing the boat at 22nd Street in my search? The boat was tied to the dock in such a way that, with the bow of the Monte Carlo was hiding it from any view from the water and the street. 

San Pedro Local
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