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Old 10-08-2011, 13:50   #16
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Re: Freedom on the waters?

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Originally Posted by osirissail View Post
Actually no big deal. Vessels are different from land vehicles and houses as there are ancient laws on the books dating from when various countries were trying to invade or take over the USA or interfere with the Civil War. These allow warrant-less searches of vessels in USA and international waters.
- - Whether the stopping of a vessel in international waters is legal under international law/convention is also moot as they simply do it based on "national security" or "drug interdiction."
- - It is normally a random occurrence unless you give the USCG cause to suspect you are just another ordinary cruiser. The USCG has priorities for vessel interdiction and it is normally drugs; illegal immigrants; etc. But if they are having a really slow day they will "practice" by boarding and inspecting you. It is an interesting experience and you should be always prepared with valid documents and required safety equipment. Then it is a quick and easy process.
- - Coming back into the USA is simply a matter of making yourself and boat available for inspection if the officials want to or just processing paperwork by phone or in person. There are numerous options/programs available to make the process easier which are discussed in other CF threads.
Actually a random stop is nothing more than a safety check..the inspection is limited in scope because there is no warrant for a "search".

To actually "search" for anything probable cause is necessary and it takes forever to get that clearance sometimes...maybe a fer minutes...but I have seen it take many, many hours if not almost days. Fotr foreign flags the process is even harder most of the time.

Anything in plain sight is always fair game to law enforcement....if not in plain sight in "man sized" compartments or when looking from those man sized compartments into accessing the bilge...then you are probably safe from "prying eyes".
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Old 10-08-2011, 13:51   #17
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Re: Freedom on the Waters ?

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Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
Theres plenty of anti-authoritarian dickheads cruising. Its funny to watch them always get their comeuppance in just about every port in the world
Mark

Yessir; and not just cruising. They've even organized to the point of ...nah, better not go there.
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Old 10-08-2011, 15:40   #18
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Re: Freedom on the Waters ?

The probable cause thing, although sounding good, is not an impediment to the
USCG when they board for a "routine safety check." As part of that "routine safety check" one of the USCG team goes below while the others keep you up in the cockpit. The one below is carrying a Ziplock baggie full of cotton puff balls. He will wipe down all the boat bulkheads, overheads, and inside of lockers and cabinets with the cotton balls.
- - After he is finished he will be ferried back to the USCG Cutter where the cotton balls will be put through a Gas-Chromo machine that looks for any residue signs of drugs. If he radios back that he has a positive, off to jail you go and the boat is confiscated. If he radios back everything is okay, then they finish the paperwork and equipment inspection and wish you a happy voyage.
- - On one crossing from the D.R. to P.R. I got boarded and everything was fine except they found a vial of catnip in a drawer of my nav desk. Up against the wall I went despite my protestations of "see the cat, catnip is for the cat." Problem was the whole team were "dog people" and only after the vial was put through the "gas machine" was it confirmed to be catnip. That was a close one and all the catnip was subsequently thrown overboard much to the complaints of my cat.
- - Being boarded is a seriously "no-nonsense" situation which greatly hinges on your displayed attitude and the cleanliness (drug-wise) of your boat. I always advise folks who purchased a new boat to take a bucket of soap and ammonia and proceed to wash every wall and surface in the boat both visible and inside cabinets. It is reported that the "machine" can detect drugs going back a whole year.
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Old 10-08-2011, 16:10   #19
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Re: Freedom on the Waters ?

Although I am outraged by official heavy-handedness, I also know that the great majority of CG guys are just like you and me and are just doing a job. They are the good guys. They can be a great help in a real emergency and I'm glad they're out there. If they want to board my boat, they better be prepared to have a cup of coffee. Sure, they do some stupid things like giving my brother a ticket on his clam boat for a dirty air filter.
Here's a little anecdote about these bad guys: About 28 years ago, my daughter, a toddler, fell out of a deck chair and opened up a gash on her head. Being in the middle of Block Island Sound and dealing with a head wound, I wasted no time in getting on the horn to Block I CG. They shook a few boats up getting out to me very quickly to transport her and wife back to Block where they brought her to an Md who stitched her up. Well, in the fray (it was rough) about 150' of 1/2" nylon, the dink painter, had wrapped itself around one of my props. One of the Coasties and I dove under and started hacking away at the ball of line, coming up for air occasionally. We both started to get dizzy and realized every time we surfaced, we were breathing in CO from the CG vessel's huge exhaust...smart. Anyway, whenever I see the CG, I wave and appreciate what they do. Just read "The Perfect Storm" if you think our rescue folks are a nuisance.
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Old 10-08-2011, 17:59   #20
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Re: Freedom on the Waters ?

If they stop you, they're a pain in the arse and it shouldn't be allowed...

If they stop the other guy, and find a couple of towelheads with explosives, they're national heroes, and every flag waving American sticks his chest out and sings Star Spangelled Banner, buys a drink, says "...ain't it great".

You can't have it both ways guys
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Old 10-08-2011, 21:53   #21
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Re: Freedom on the Waters ?

Have been sailing going on 50 yrs. Have never encountered these heavy handed bullies, where do you find them.
They pull up next to you, request permission to board, which they don't nees to do, come aboard and do their quick inspection, say have a good day and then they are gone.
Then you have the so-called skippers of pleasure boats that believe they don't have to be safe around themselves and others and can do whatever they want and telegraph their body language and talkativeness, all which thror up red flags to LEO's.
And then to refer to them as gun toting Rambo's really shows a lack of respect to the people protecting your a$$.
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Old 11-08-2011, 07:20   #22
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Re: Freedom on the Waters ?

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Originally Posted by Wavewacker View Post
Roughly, it's my understanding that you can visit, filing documents to go but you just can't spend a penny while there.
Better check the laws before you decide to go to Cuba. Your understanding is wrong. As a U.S. citizen you can only go if you get permission from the Dept. of State, and permission is only given for a few, specific reasons.
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Old 11-08-2011, 07:42   #23
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Re: Freedom on the Waters ?

Actually, Wavewacker is correct but there is more to the story. The US government considers your "presence" there as "spending money." Remember that with bureaucrats logic or common sense never enters their thinking and it is public knowledge that marina fees and check-in/out fees exist.
- - However, a new opportunity has arisen for those not wanting to take a boat to Cuba and that is the "educational" visit as part of an acknowledged "educational" outfit. You don't get to roam free in Cuba as you have to stay with the group.
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Old 11-08-2011, 08:05   #24
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Re: Freedom on the Waters ?

Yes there is Freedom on the High Seas: That is when you are far offshore, you have the freedom to express your opinions about any government in the world. That is if your better half allows you to.
But 92% of us sailors are civlized and behave in a like manner. The other 8% have left their common sense and civility ashore and ruin it for everyone. We really need to carry paint ball guns to permanently mark that 8% for life.
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Old 11-08-2011, 08:24   #25
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Re: Freedom on the Waters ?

Recently in Latitude 38 someone was reportedly at gunpoint from the USCG for sailing (not motoring) too close to a Naval ship. To me that is a little over the top. That being said Courtesy is key...even if it's not returned.

MarkJ said..."Theres plenty of anti-authoritarian dickheads cruising".
Strong language for someone who is merely inquiring about authorities. The same could easily be said for "Sheople" dickheads cruising...I'm just sayin!
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Old 11-08-2011, 08:34   #26
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Re: Freedom on the Waters ?

Maritime laws and rules are not the same and I've had acquaintances boarded by the USCG far out to sea... They described the encounters as professional but tense....
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Old 11-08-2011, 09:29   #27
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Re: Freedom on the Waters ?

There are differences in who can board a vessel without permission depending on whether the vessel is a documented vessel (U.S.or other flag) or is state registered. I recently read about a foreign flagged vessel that was boarded by some local LEO and there was hell to pay by the local agency when the owners made an issue of it. Sorry, don't have a link. I didn't bookmark the story.
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Old 11-08-2011, 10:24   #28
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Re: Freedom on the Waters ?

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Originally Posted by Celestialsailor View Post
MarkJ said..."Theres plenty of anti-authoritarian dickheads cruising".
Strong language for someone who is merely inquiring about authorities. The same could easily be said for "Sheople" dickheads cruising...I'm just sayin!
Yes, my language may have been a bit strong.
However the point some times needs to be firmly put imho.

I have seen quite a few people who display an unreal attitude to officials, who really display quite a grumpiness for very little reason, and some that completely change from mild mannered gentlemen to some devil incarnate.

Recently clearing into to another country I witnessed a friend do it and I was absolutely amazed. For no reason he provoked an argument where none need be. The stamp wavered above the passport for 5 minutes as the whole office stopped and I could feel the whole Search and Destroy mission being planned by the nice and reasonable (at first) Customs and Immigration officers.

Another friend who is a peacenik, quiet and loving person, showed me his stance when any official gets on his boat. He stands legs apart, arms crossed and tells them he will check everything to see if they steal anything.

Another told me never answer questions! A few have told me only answer questions yes or no and never supply information.

Another case when a guy cleared into Australia his attitude got hima full search and cost him $16,000 in repairs (so he claimed against the Government).

My attitude is to smile and keep smiling, answer questions fully and offer what information I can. I offer to take people below to search, I tell them I can help. I always offer to sit below to do paperwork instead of the cockpit - it seems more inviting and less reticent to show below.

Sure, I haven't been to the USA and have heard they are right on the case with small boats. But my method is the one I will use and if they want to rip down the ceiling liner I will show how its done, or do it myself, so it is less likely to be wrecked.

The old hoary grumble: "I've just made a passage and I'm tired" is total bullshit. If you get tired go hove to for a day before entering port. (I have also heard that crap on airport Immigration/Customs when people have stepped off a luxurious plane after doing bugger all for however many hours.)

Cruisers should ram their attitude up their butts and when boarded smile, say "Good to see you guys! Its an honour to show you my boat!"

In horrid countries like Egypt its even more important to be nice. Take them below and serve them coffee and cookies and when they ask you for a present give them a small souvenir (we have tiny kangaroo keyrings that cost $2 per dozen) and present to to them in some manner of grace: "This is our National Emblem and its very important to me and I would like you to have it because we are so pleased to be in your country."

You think thats over the top? Much better than "I'm tired but I'm watching you"





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Old 11-08-2011, 11:13   #29
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Re: Freedom on the Waters ?

Mark...I've always known you to be an honest and informative cruiser. I have followed many of your posts, especially when "out there" and really doing what we all strive to do. Your opinions are valued, I was just trying to present the other side of the coin. Thanks fore your input.
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Old 11-08-2011, 11:52   #30
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Re: Freedom on the Waters ?

Apparently Mark likes to plead the Fifth when dealing with the USCG... Not very helpful when they are doing a safety survey of your vessel.
But The predecessor of the USCG was the Revenue service. And they were given the right to board and search without any warrents. Because Uncle Sam wanted his taxes paid up front and smuggling was, as now, frowned on very much in those days. That is why the LEOs, here in the states, can board without warrents or probable cause.

Plus the USA is a Signetory nation to many International treaties that deals with Shipping and those treaties set many International laws that all vessels have to abid by. Whether on inland waters or far out on the Ocean.
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