Attacked by Pirates
Moreover, Nowlin clearly knew how to handle the shotgun he used on the Yemeni pirates, and he reacted to the emergency with courage and daring. However, a weapon in the hands of a hesitant, untrained cruiser in the same circumstances might not have driven the pirates off and could have added fuel to the attack.
Guns aboard also raise the question of whether cruisers are obliged to declare them when entering foreign ports. Nowlin was quite candid on this topic: "Generally, people with guns aboard don't say anything about them. Most of us don't declare them going into foreign countries. You keep them buried. The customs agents in these countries are not into tearing yachts apart looking for contraband unless they suspect you of doing something illegal, like smuggling drugs."
Nowlin noted that carrying a defensive weapon such as a shotgun is a lot easier to explain to an official than pistols or rifles, which are often viewed as potential offensive arms and tend to raise more concern.
However, failing to declare weapons and subsequently getting caught with them can land cruisers in jail. In November 2004, Australian millionaire Christopher Packer-an accomplished racing sailor-found himself confined in the Kerobokan prison on Bali for three months after Indonesian authorities discovered a cache of 2,700 rounds of ammunition, a Ruger semiautomatic rifle, two pump-action shotguns, a revolver, an automatic pistol, and an antique rifle aboard his 175-foot converted freighter, Lissa. Under Indonesia's laws, he was initially charged with running guns, which carries the death penalty, but he was later convicted of failing to declare the weapons and released. He told the court he carried the guns for sport and to defend against pirate attacks.