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Old 06-09-2011, 22:46   #1
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Exclamation Living Aboard in NSW: The Fast Track to Being an Outlaw ?

Yesterday, I was once more reminded of the pains of living-aboard in NSW Australia. After a favorable sail from Newcastle to Swansea Heads I moored on the 24 hr courtesy buoy in the channel waiting for a morning bridge opening. 11.05 I was through the bridge and roped off at a public wharf sign posted 2 hour limit. So what do you know, here come the Water Police! Next minute the officer is subjecting me to a barrage of abuse accusing me of overstaying my welcome at the wharf and of having done the same at Newcastle. He also asked when I was going to get a permanent mooring.

I was quick to point out the 2hr limit posted on a sign and the fact I regularly paid for use of the particular wharf at Newcastle. Noting, in a slow boat like mine, it was good seamanship to wait at the wharf where I was being questioned until the tide turned so I did have to battle the strong current in the channel. I also stated my legitimate reason for being in Newcastle and the fact that I had spent part of this time cruising further north around Port Stephens. Then why should I get a permanent mooring when I have just about got the boat ready for some serious cruising?

Really though, why should I have to justify anything to these authoritarians when I was not committing a violation? Then again, even in a criminal matter you have a right to silence and a presumption of innocent till proven guilty.

Yet I was subjected to nothing but harrasement. I am also sure that the issues the officer tried to argue where out of his jurisdiction and matters for the Maritime Services Board (MSB). Strangely, I did have a much more friendly conversation with the MSB when they did a patol around my boat in Newcastle and they had no issues with my movements. So what's the story with the cops; in their limited mentality, just because I actually use my boat, am I now some sort of second class citizen or even parasite ?
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Old 06-09-2011, 23:18   #2
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Re: Living Aboard in NSW: The Fast Track to being an Outlaw?

Help the NSW Police...






... beat yourself up!
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Old 06-09-2011, 23:23   #3
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Re: Living Aboard in NSW: The Fast Track to being an Outlaw?

If you got his number you should make a written complaint.
Regards,
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Old 06-09-2011, 23:30   #4
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Re: Living Aboard in NSW: The Fast Track to being an Outlaw?

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Originally Posted by boden36 View Post
If you got his number you should make a written complaint.
Regards,
Richard.
I am considering doing the same, but am worried that that it might just result in more bullying as I have seen happen before.

One good point could be that it was only one of the two officers on the boat who said anything. I had a similar run with an MSB officer before and the first thing everyone I mentioned him to said was basically how they would like to punch him in the nose. Nevertheless, I have met his superior a few times and he seems to be a really genuine bloke. In following, this might just be another case of a serial ah#le with an inflated ego?
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Old 07-09-2011, 00:21   #5
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Re: Living Aboard in NSW: The Fast Track to being an Outlaw?

I should also note that on this trip I was the only person using either wharf and the courtesy buoys. My theory is the reason for this is that most other people are too afraid to use their boats. It is amazing how many questions I get inundated with at these places; some in genuine interest and others just down right annoying.

The most annoying this time was when moored in Newcastle a well-dressed gent asked me in an accusing fashion whether I had to pay to use a particular wharf. Even if I had just taken advantage of the fact you can pull up for less than 2 hrs free, the real contradiction was that he was taking his 8 yr old daughter out later on a Monday night for a birthday dinner at an adjacent restaurant when kids eat for free on that night. So who is the more morally repugnant: me for bending rules somewhere I usually pay or him for keeping the poor kid up on a school night just to save a few bucks?

Oh, then don't get me started about the amount of fishing gear I pick up on my boat or the damage the wake from the tugs do when they are racing back to their wharves at the end of their shifts!
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Old 07-09-2011, 00:39   #6
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Re: Living Aboard in NSW: The Fast Track to being an Outlaw?

On the whole I have never had any issue with the water police, or Waterways in NSW.

they even saved my bacon on one occasion.

But you will always get one or two who think that the world is a better place if they yell at it or generally exert their non existent power over the poor unsuspecting public.

Sometimes a little respect will resolve the situation, but sadly it often does not.

Usually a discussion with there boss fixes most things.

If all else fails, tell them that you would like to record the conversation to ensure no misunderstanding, he has his partner as a witness, there is nothing illegal about recording provided you tell the other parties.

They usually calm down PDQ.
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Old 10-09-2011, 02:34   #7
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Re: Living Aboard in NSW: The Fast Track to being an Outlaw?

Went for the best cure all; a great sail back up the coast in 20-30 knot SW winds and 3 metre following seas. Sure beats hangiung round the mude hole where many unfortunates still seem to be suffering the Milton Acropolis blues. Police and Politicians can be a wretched combination. As the Midnight Oil lyrics go, "The rich get richer and the poor get the picture". Hopefully things are going to change, but you can still see the horror in derelict business precincts, hierarchical attitudes and the security at well-off marinas.
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Old 10-09-2011, 03:13   #8
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Re: Living Aboard in NSW: The Fast Track to being an Outlaw?

Hey Shane,
Call me a cynic but the water police are really just a state sanctioned protection racket.

Twice I needed their help. Both times they never bothered showing, did not log the call and couldn't give a flying *&^& about it. However, if they need their quota for the monthly budget, they'll be onto ya.

In Qld, they are the same.

Best police money can buy!
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Old 10-09-2011, 04:10   #9
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Re: Living Aboard in NSW: The Fast Track to being an Outlaw?

My experience was different, and typical for the UK. Coastguard turned up without being asked when I was blown ashore. I was happy to wait it out, a cat on a gravel beach is not a problem. They preferred to haul me off and take me to the nearest marina (free of charge). I was a little surprised to be met there by Border Patrol and Customs but they were all very friendly and competent. The marina made no charge for the day or so I was there so long as I moved on promptly.
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Old 10-09-2011, 05:02   #10
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Re: Living Aboard in NSW: The Fast Track to being an Outlaw?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SurferShane View Post
I should also note that on this trip I was the only person using either wharf and the courtesy buoys. My theory is the reason for this is that most other people are too afraid to use their boats. It is amazing how many questions I get inundated with at these places; some in genuine interest and others just down right annoying.

The most annoying this time was when moored in Newcastle a well-dressed gent asked me in an accusing fashion whether I had to pay to use a particular wharf. Even if I had just taken advantage of the fact you can pull up for less than 2 hrs free, the real contradiction was that he was taking his 8 yr old daughter out later on a Monday night for a birthday dinner at an adjacent restaurant when kids eat for free on that night. So who is the more morally repugnant: me for bending rules somewhere I usually pay or him for keeping the poor kid up on a school night just to save a few bucks?

Oh, then don't get me started about the amount of fishing gear I pick up on my boat or the damage the wake from the tugs do when they are racing back to their wharves at the end of their shifts!
Where is the courtesy buoy at Swansea ? I have anchored before on the North shore opposite the RSL and didn't see anything.
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Old 10-09-2011, 12:24   #11
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Re: Living Aboard in NSW: The Fast Track to being an Outlaw?

Quote:
generally exert their non existent power over the poor unsuspecting public.
Don't fool yourself, they have quite a lot of power, and many are not afraid to use it in an illegal manner.
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Old 10-09-2011, 12:38   #12
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Re: Living Aboard in NSW: The Fast Track to being an Outlaw?

So it is not just Florida?
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Old 10-09-2011, 17:05   #13
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Re: Living Aboard in NSW: The Fast Track to being an Outlaw?

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Where is the courtesy buoy at Swansea ? I have anchored before on the North shore opposite the RSL and didn't see anything.
There are a couple on the lake side of the bridge. I haven't seen anyone on there for more than an hour or so, often to wait for the bridge, or after coming through after a rough passage. They seem to stop there for a coffee and to tidy things up before heading on into the lake.

I'm not aware of any on the ocean side, but I could be wrong.
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Old 10-09-2011, 19:58   #14
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Re: Living Aboard in NSW: The Fast Track to being an Outlaw?

fwiw, i will play devils advocate here. . There is very little that is actually out of the NSW police dept juristiction. They can act on Federal, State, Council and departmental laws and regulations. Eg a speeding ticket based on RTA regulations or a noise polution fine based on EPA or Council rules. So in reality they could have booked you if you went over the two hour limit regardless of whether the wharf was managed by NSW Waterways Authority or the local council.

There is also another unspoken rule used by all law inforcement officers from rangers to federal police. Its the "attitude test" . Be polite, dont argue, yell, accuse, name call etc. As soon as you do they can and will turn on you. And they are the guys with the power and the degree in law who know if they are right or wrong. In otherwords, stay courteous and respectful to pass The Attitude Test, regardless of how big an Ahole he is.

I have experienced those currents in swansea channel. I know what you mean and why you stayed put. Hmmm, there is an international law about Not being forced to put to sea if the vessel isnt able to proceed safely. Cant for the life of me remember it all tho. Google will know. Obviously, they didnt force you to procede, so no foul on their end.
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Old 10-09-2011, 20:32   #15
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Re: Living Aboard in NSW: The Fast Track to being an Outlaw?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SurferShane View Post
Went for the best cure all; a great sail back up the coast in 20-30 knot SW winds and 3 metre following seas. Sure beats hangiung round the mude hole where many unfortunates still seem to be suffering the Milton Acropolis blues. Police and Politicians can be a wretched combination. As the Midnight Oil lyrics go, "The rich get richer and the poor get the picture". Hopefully things are going to change, but you can still see the horror in derelict business precincts, hierarchical attitudes and the security at well-off marinas.
Well Shayne, that' my little mud hole you're talking about. I'm sorry that was your experience. It certainly hasn't been mine. I'm sure you can get officious government officials who make a big deal out of nothing. I've found Proverbs 15:1 to be so true "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger". I know that the wharf immediately inside the bridge is used by many boats for dropping & picking up people and as you can guess there are many complaints because of people who overstay. Granted, this gives no one the right to blast someone who is within the rules, but hey we're cruisers, if we chill out and respect their badge (maybe it was a new one) they usually respond to that. Maybe the other two pulled him into line afterwards anyway. My experience is that the maritime guys and the police have been most helpful and yes they do patrol and check that boats are complying with the regulations. I have never had a problem with these guys on and around Lake Macquarie, Newcastle, & Port Stephens.

For the poster who was asking where are the visitor boys near the bridge, There are two on each side within close range of the opening span. It's unusual for them to be full and they are intended just for boats waiting for the bridge.

Greg
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