There is something sad and awkward with this picture. A peaceful recreational marina seems an unlikely setting for the slow meanderings of a high-speed U.S. Coast Guard vessel decked-out with a machine gun turret. The scene is reassuring and yet at the same time unsettling. Do a bunch of sailboats and small powerboats warrant protection with so much firepower? On the other hand, is it just another unavoidable sign of the times?
Several years ago, a similar high-speed Coast Guard craft, minus the machine gun, pulled up alongside my sailboat in the Gulf of Mexico just outside the entrance to Tampa Bay. The crew gave me a passing grade on the safety inspection and then proceeded to search the large cockpit lockers filled with fenders, raft, mooring lines, spare anchor, and so forth. I asked the leader what they were looking for.
With a barely concealed smile, he said, “Canadians.”
It felt good to hear some humor in an increasingly difficult situation. I tell myself that we are no different from other species showing off manes, quills, puffed-up fur, and gaudy feathers to establish our superior “manliness” (excuse the chauvinism) in a hostile and competitive world.