was getting close they requested that he
shoot off a flare to mark his location. Dan
complied. Seconds later, he watched a set
of navigation lights getting closer and closer,
which, to his surprise, turned out to be a
Mexican Naval Patrol boat. Dan called the
The next few minutes were “scary and
chaotic.” While he was on the VHF, his son
overheard two men on the Mexican Naval
Patrol boat talking in Spanish about getting money, and told his dad. Another man
stepped aboard, and told Dan to switch to
Channel 11. Dan learned later that collisions
with tuna pens typically resulted in large,
even enormous, fines.
Young Brian, whose mother was born
in Mexico, spoke perfect Spanish. He began
telling the men that what they were trying
to do was illegal, “That pen wasn’t marked.
My uncle works for the Mexican Border
Patrol and he will hear about this,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Coast Guard arrived, and
sent over an inflatable with five crew aboard.
Two climbed onto Dan’s boat. One of the
Mexican Naval officers said they didn’t want
money, they only wanted to help. It was the
man who owned the damaged tuna pens,
however, who did want money. A Mexican
Naval officer in scuba gear dove under the
Seaswirl and, with the help of the patrol
vessel, pulled the badly damaged boat out
of the pen. It turns out that the same officer
later told Brian that the accident wasn’t his
father’s fault and gave him his contact information, just in case his father was charged
for the damage.
At this point, Dan said he was becoming optimistic. The Mexican Navy and the
U.S. Coast Guard had been talking back
and forth, and Dan thought his boat was
about to be towed back to San Diego by
the Coast Guard. But they were in Mexican
waters, and the Mexican Naval officers said it
would be towed to Ensenada. Dan opted to
stay with his boat. At his request, the Coast
Guard took Brian home, but not before the
young man gave instructions in Spanish
about how his father should be treated.
The rest of the story involves a long
list of concerned people, none of whom
had ever met Dan Richter. The first was
David Walker, a towing dispatcher at Vessel
Assist in San Diego, who made a phone call
to Fred Ventura, an emergency dispatcher at BoatU.S. headquarters in Alexandria,
By Mexican Navy
Dan Richter and his son
Brian got more adventure
than expected when they
inadvertently sailed into
a commercial tuna pen off
the Mexican coast.