Robert Courtney was aboard a small sealing boat in the Gulf of St. Lawrence two weeks ago when, he alleges, the Farley Mowat came dangerously close to him and his crew.

“They came within 20 or 30 metres of our small 19-foot boat; we had guys out on the ice retrieving seals and they busted the pads of ice under their feet,” he said.

When the Canadian Coast Guard vessel and the Farley Mowat collided, the coast guard was just trying to protect the sealers, he said.

“They (sealers) just barely made it back to the boat, but they were pretty near in the water.”

Farley Mowat, the author, put up the bail money for the two jailed crew members and vowed to use his resources — monetary and otherwise — to defend the men after their “atrocious” arrests, the CBC reports.

Paul Watson, who heads the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, posted bail at the Sydney courthouse yesterday for the captain and first officer of the Farley Mowat, which was overtaken by RCMP officers Saturday.

Alex Cornelissen and Peter Hammarstadt were charged with interfering with the seal hunt after a confrontation with a coast guard icebreaker March 30.

The society maintains, however, that it was the coast guard ship that confronted the Mowat.

Fisheries and Oceans Department Minister Loyola Hearn said the coast guard vessel was trying to protect sealers from the Mowat crew, who did not have an observation licence permitting them to be closer than 900 metres from the seal hunt.

But Watson said Sunday that the coast guard’s storming of the Sea Shepherd vessel was tantamount to piracy.

The captain and his first officer were released from custody mid-afternoon and Cornelissen said officials from Canada Border Services officials were ordering them back to their home countries.

Cornelissen said he would head back to the Netherlands and go directly to the Dutch media with his story in hopes the government will take action against Canada.

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