During the writing of Andaluz Blood, I stayed on board a small yacht near Almería and was able to gain an insight into the world of drug smuggling from the Moroccan coast to mainland Spain, a practice which often happens in the dead of night in all manner of craft from sailing yachts and kayaks to motorboats and RIBS (rigid inflatables). The Guardia Civil vessels are on patrol and regularly make seizures, often with force, as illustrated below by the plethora of bullet holes in this motor boat.
Although Andaluz Blood is fictional, many of the encounters faced by the lead protagonist (Charles Hale) and other characters are drawn from news items, accounts from people at the marina, and real seizures (the latest, an 11-tonne haul of hashish).
A walk around the boatyard reveals many boats, some abandoned or wrecked, which I’m sure have interesting stories associated with them.
Extract from ANDALUZ BlOOD
The Guardia vessel – a stealth machine bristling with technology, deployed to track modern-day pirates, immigrants, and drug smugglers – moved into position at the marina tower. Spray and smoke swirled about the decks under the brilliance of its lights, the twin jet turbines churning up the water, turning it to foam. The boat edged into position against Puerto de Santa María’s quay.
Behind, Blue Too rocked gently. Hale idled the engine, waiting for instruction. It soon came as the radio burst into life over the deck speaker: “Blue Too, moor at the tower. Blue Too, moor at the tower.”
Jack acknowledged on the radio handset. Hale brought her about in the damp, the rain having now turned to drizzle. He moved her in closer to the quay, opposite the lights of the marina office, the office that never slept.
Over the years, Hale had often been out on deck at night, unable to sleep on board. Looking west, there was always someone operating the marina tower night and day. Marineros – smoking, bored, looking to pass the hours – hung around waiting for a call. Holidays, fiestas, or normal working days, it made no difference. Vessels were always at sea or visiting the port for some reason.
Dean threw a line from the bow to the marinero ashore while Hale mulled the inevitable question from the authorities:
What was your business at sea tonight, Mr Hale?
James Smith © 2017
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