We have spent the last week around Cocoa Beach, FL, being spoiled by family and friends.
Our list of “last-minute” items and meals was fulfilled by Grant’s Aunt taking us around to Panda Express for lunch and to get snorkeling fins at a place we could not have walked to.
That weekend we met our friends from MD who have also made the change to warmer weather and now live in FL. We all went our for burritos and then had sushi for dinner. We walked the beach, and slept in a real bed! We were very spoiled and happy to see our friends.
Our story of inadvertently “trespassing” onto a military base:
We are both USCG Licensed Captains. This means we “get” to pay Lockheed Martin $140 for a Homeland Security background check that gets us a Transportation Workers Identification Card (TWIC). The TWIC card gets you clearance onto secure ports of entry in the US (shipping ports) and is what the TSA uses to work airport screening (you can use it as your sole ID to board a plane), and in some cases it grants you access to military bases. The Captains License itself is a valid US passport.
There wasn’t a safer or more covenient place to leave the boat in Cocoa Beach, FL while meeting our friends, so we called the marina at an Air Force base to ask if our TWIC card would let us stay the night. The answer was yes! We were very excited!
When we got there, everything was great and everyone was very nice. A few people even came by and were interested in our boat. Showers, good wifi and laundry! The only thing left was to ask if our friends could come pick us up at the marina or if we would have to walk outside the gate. The marina said we would have to ask security. We walked up to the main gate and explained our question. Then it went downhill from there…..
Apparently we are not allowed on the base. The security seemed confused as well, but it was decided that those permitted on-base with TWIC cards are on “official business.” And the game of “who said we were allowed?” was passed around a few different teams without any success other than “a person in security when the marina called to ask.” By now it was dark and after 4 hours of questions and confusion, we were told we could stay the night but had the leave in the morning. A thorough report was filled out about the incident.
The guard was extremely nice and said he felt bad. He basically told us what to do to stay- anyone with a DOD Military ID can get us a 3-day pass to enter and leave the base. (So, just to clarify, we could work airport security and enter ports of entry but cannot use the military base marina, but, if anyone with a Military ID vouches for us we can enter and exit by ourselves for 3 days. But we could in fact enter with a TWIC card if there was a work-related reason, but using the marina does not count.) Yes, it is all clear now, thank you. (Note: We respect that Military Bases are for military personnel and do not believe that we were entitled to be allowed on in any way, it is just an interesting situation.)
We were permitted to walk back to our boat. We got back to the boat and quickly found some nice retirees among the Friday night Tiki Bar Party to “sponsor” us the next day for the 3 day pass. Soon after, our guard called to say he had to physically see that we were on the boat. He came by with two other guards carrying machine guns that were a bit more aggressive. The one with a gun said we were “trespassing” by being on the dock next to our boat and to get back on our boat. He also enlightened us by informing us that he had never heard of a TWIC card. Then they left us for the night. The retirees apologized for the intrusion, explaining that you never see them, let alone wielding guns at the marina—especially during Friday night Tiki Bar.
The next morning we had our 3 day pass. We were okay with the situation. Everyone was extremely polite and helpful including the guards. They accommodated us instead of making us leave and went out of their way to help us stay. I was really blown away with how great everyone was. But when the marina thanked us for staying and implied we should come back, I really don’t think we will be back!
Grant did a rig check when we were at the marina. Everything looked great, especially the spreader boots Grant had sewn out of leather! Coming down the mast he also greased the main sail track to make the sail come down faster.
Now we are headed to Lake Worth, FL for a weather window to the Bahamas.