“Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”- Wile E. Coyote
A lot of stuff goes through your mind when you are running full throttle in the pitchblack darkness of the Gulf of Mexico at night. We were in no way, shape, or form the first game wardens to get in a chase with a Mexican shark boat. The guys in Cameron County (Brownsville) did it all the time. We had heard the stories. We knew they wouldn’t stop. We knew we had to do something to MAKE them stop. There weren’t a whole lot of choices. Maybe we could run up beside them and use a boat hook to pull the gas line? Maybe we could ram them? Maybe we should fire a shot across the bow? Shoot the motor? Until we got close enough to reach out and touch them, all we could do was haul ass and hold on.
I had a 600,000-candle power Q-Beam spotlight in my right hand, and a death-grip on that bar that follows the contour of the windshield in my left. I knew it was important to use my legs to help absorb the shock of the waves, but it was really hard to prepare myself for waves I couldn’t see. Falling out of the boat was not an option.
As we got close enough to smell the exhaust and see an amorphous white blob cutting a fluorescent green phosphorous flash through the water in front of us, I raised the Q-Beam above my head, held on, and waited for Bruce’s cue. They still had no idea we were behind them.
“Hit ‘em with the light!” Bruce said as he turned on the little blue light on the console that most people stopped for. We were about to find out that these dudes weren’t most people. We were ten yards away. When I flipped the switch, three men in a 26 ft. panga boat turned back to look at the blinding light I held in my hand, and then they hit a new gear. The helmsman was seated in the back, operating a tiller-drive outboard motor. He headed to the surf. Bruce kept our boat right on their tail. I held on for dear life.
The waves get bigger the closer you get to the shore. They knew that would be a problem for us. This wasn’t their first rodeo, but it was damned sure ours. The motor on our boat cavitated as we cleared one wave and slammed into the next.
Whenever we would get close enough to consider what we might do to get them to stop, they’d make a hard turn away from whatever side we approached from. We chased them into the surf and back out. They would speed up and slow down. We’d get close, and they’d maneuver away from us. The palms of my hands began to sweat profusely, and my grip on that bar became more tenuous with each wave we slammed into. Bruce stayed on their ass until we smashed into a particularly large wave, and everything went black. The light in my hand went out.
Bruce powered down. “What the heck happened???”
“Hell, if I know.” I said as I flipped the switch on the Q-Beam back and forth to no avail. I plugged it in and out of the 12-volt receptacle on the console. Nothing. We could hear them getting further and further away as we drifted in the darkness.
“Holy crap! What do we do now?” I asked, already knowing the answer.
We didn’t have a backup Q-Beam. It had never been an issue.
Bruce didn’t say anything. He was pissed, and so was I. He shut off the motor. The Gulf is beautiful at night – same as it was before we got our butts kicked.
They were GONE. There wasn’t anyone to call for backup. The cavalry wasn’t coming. They were GONE. We headed to a cabin back in the bay we affectionately dubbed “The Spider Cabin” due to the healthy population of arachnids that called it home. The cabin didn’t have electricity, and if you didn’t turn on your flashlight, the spiders weren’t too bothersome. We’d sleep on it and come up with a game plan in the morning. One thing was for sure - the dudes in that boat were tough: wiley coyotes, indeed.
For those of you who like keeping score, up to this point it is as follows: Wiley Coyotes: 1; Possum Cops 0.
Stay tuned for part three...