Top Gun and Foreign Policy
17 December 2007 | Isla Espiritu Santo, Sea of Cortez
"Hey Maverick, are you going to want to buzz the tower again?" I half expected Andrew to quip as we approached two charter catamarans anchored in Bahia San Gabriel,Isla Espiritu Santo. I deserved the jab given our last anchoring episode. No I thought, we can anchor like regular yates this time. My ego was fully satiated as we had received cheers and applause for sailing off our anchor this morning from a nice couple from San Francisco. I am not sure they realized but, it is only half as hard weigh anchor under sail than to set anchor under sail. Still we enjoyed the applause.
I had met the couple from San Francisco the day before at the impromptu party at the Giggling Marlin. They had started a veterinarian clinic which had blossomed and now afforded them the opportunity to cruise for 6 months out of each year in a nicely fitted Columbia with lots of new kit. During the party they had mentioned several times that they were the boat flying the United Nations flag. Fortunately no one had bitten on this obvious political comment, probably because politics and religion are generally forbidden subjects on boats.
I thought to myself what fair weather citizens we have become. Frankly this is not the first time we have witnessed similar political comments by US yachts in foreign countries. Several times we have seen US yachts either not flying the America flag, flying a very small US flag or like in this instance flying some other flag.
I suspect in some way these boat are trying to show their empathy with the global populist disdain for recent US policy. Okay fair enough, to each his or her own, I do not want to enter this political debate, I will make my political comment at the polls. However I think using the Flag this way often has the opposite effect. Many of the locals you meet and deal with in a cruising yacht especially in developing countries would give their eye-teeth to live in a political and economic system like the US, just ask them. Look at how many Mexicans families pay their life's savings to risk life and limb trying to get across the border. Try explaining to them why you are not flying the Flag on what must be perceived as the ultimate luxury, a private yacht. I suspect they might find your political comment at best confusing and at least hypocritical.
Okay sorry for ranting. This is why wine and blog writing is dangerous. But in all seriousness, if I have only learned one thing from our 3 years cruise to 26 different countries, it is how fortunate it is to be a US citizen or citizen of the other handful of countries with a truly stable democratic political systems. Cisnecito maybe a Spanish name but we are US citizens, she is a US yacht and therefore flies the Stars and Stripes, one inch of length for every foot of waterline consistent with that maritime tradition.