Passengers on a diving excursion whose boat was boarded by armed Mexican sailors spoke to 10News on Thursday about their ordeal.
"In 25 years of diving, to my knowledge there's no permit for diving in the Coronados," said Bill Powers, who organized Sunday's voyage to Mexico's Coronado Islands through a meetup group he founded online.
The group brings scuba divers in San Diego together for similar excursions. The one that happened on Sunday started out well, but Powers said it finished on a sour note.
"I don't think anybody was near a panic, but I do know that one young person called their parents and told them to call the Coast Guard just to tell them what was going on," said Powers.
When the incident happened, the Horizon charter boat was positioned just to the north of the southernmost island in Mexico's Coronado Islands. Two Mexican naval ships approached the Horizon. A 180-foot Mexican battleship was standing guard several hundred feet to the northeast, while a 25-foot cutter came right up next to the Horizon. Six members of the Mexican Navy boarded the American boat, as the passengers were ordered to the boat's rear deck for what turned out to be an agonizing wait.
"We were talking amongst ourselves saying it wasn't a time for joking and not for asking any questions," said Scott Greene, who went on the dive excursion with his brother Ben, who took photos as the ordeal unfolded.
The Mexican warship was circling the Horizon charter during the ordeal, according to passengers, who also said the ship was getting closer and within about 50 feet about one point.
Many passengers on deck were getting sunburned and some who were still wearing wetsuits grew very cold.
The captain of the Horizon, Spencer Salmon, said the ordeal lasted more than two hours and a Mexican naval commander demanded to see a Mexican dive permit, which the group did not have.
Another passenger, Steve Fox, said the situation grew stranger the longer they were held.
Salmon said he was going to the Mexican consulate on Wednesday for a meeting with authorities to try to get this matter resolved.
The Mexican consulate told 10News on Thursday that no such meeting ever took place and that no meeting has ever been scheduled.
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