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Old 17-10-2015, 11:06   #46
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Re: U.S. Coast Guard boarding experience (not typical i dont think)

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Originally Posted by Dennis.G View Post
US Coast Guard boardings always piss me off as they fly in the face of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. You have more protection from unwarranted search running a meth lab in a condemned house than you do while innocently sailing about in your boat/home.
I'm a Kiwi so no expertise in American law, but I understand that the Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires any warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause. Cool, BUT!

Aren't there exceptions that US Courts have, over many years, decided and upheld? I think all of these can be interpreted to apply at sea. Certainly they could be argued in Court.

1. If the party gives consent.
2. The plain view/open fields doctrine.
3. Motor vehicle exception (isnít a boat essentially the same when at sea?)

But the biggie is the border exception: Searches conducted at the USA border or the equivalent of the border may be conducted without a warrant or probable cause subject to the border search exception.

Dennis your point about having a meth lab in your home is fascinating. And you're right. Seems to me that US Courts have upheld that a home is 'private' where as cars have an exception. What if the meth lab were in a motor home or live-aboard boat? How do the enforcement officers decide what is a home? (And very sadly there are many people living in cars too.)

An off topic point I know but.
In the US why are drugs regarded as a criminal rather than a health/social issue? You're locking your citizens up in their thousands for being drug addicts. Why is it OK for people to get totally smashed (and addicted) in one particular drug; alcohol? With alcohol if that person then commits a criminal offense, say like driving ok, they deserve the the legal consequences: for the consequential offense, but not just for buying/having/consuming the drug. Just wondering.
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Old 17-10-2015, 11:19   #47
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Re: U.S. Coast Guard boarding experience (not typical i dont think)

I have been boarded by the USCG in Lake Superior. They were completely professional and courteous.

One of you said in a previous post, "As the parent of a now retired Coast Guard flight officer, I can tell you, Coasties generally speaking are on the front lines most of the time. It's true they are not facing an organized army, but think about the risks they take not knowing if they will be greeted by some drugged up psychopath with a machine gun when they step on a vessel. Every day has several new threats for these folks. Also it's different from land bound police because you cant dive behind a car or something when everything goes South!"

If you don't think that drug smugglers are an organized army, think again.

The first extended interface I had with the CG was at Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam. They were responsible for weapons interdiction (Rockets, etc.) on the water as well as supervising Explosive Ordinance at the special dock for this. We worked together to prevent enemy sappers from blowing up these ships. As a counterintelligence agent, it was my responsibility to lend them any assistance I could to prevent sabotage. As a sailor today, I do the same thing. They have a tough job to do and I respect them completely.
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Old 17-10-2015, 11:29   #48
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Re: U.S. Coast Guard boarding experience (not typical i dont think)

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Originally Posted by Olde Chief View Post
I am sorry that a few of the CF members have a had problems with the USCG doing their for doing their jobs. I have always found that if you meet them with an understanding attitude everyone comes out ahead. Understand a lot of the time when you are boarded at sea, someone at the last port you were in has called your boat in as a diversion, and the CG crew have to follow orders, and check you out. As for what the crew wears, includes those boot are for their protection along with BP Vests and Life Vests, so take it easy on them, as they do not like to upset you any more than you like to up set them , because thing can get VERY difficult all around... I Know as I have boarded and been boarded. Good Sailing ALL.


Chief are you aware of the cutter boat training manual?

How does one get it changed so they aim for the chain plates versus the beam?

Aside from breaking my boat the boarding crew were pros. But bad training....

Thanks


Sent from my iPhone- please forgive autocorrect errors.
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Old 17-10-2015, 11:32   #49
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Re: U.S. Coast Guard boarding experience (not typical i dont think)

AT least this time the OP did not try his 'repelling pirates techniques' as portayed in a previous thread recently where when approached by suspect fishermen had his crew standing by with an M1 in hand and racked to scare them off. Now that would have made for a nice little money making U tube video with the USCG being cast in the role of the aggressors.
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Old 17-10-2015, 11:42   #50
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Re: U.S. Coast Guard boarding experience (not typical i dont think)

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Originally Posted by Dennis.G View Post
US Coast Guard boardings always piss me off as they fly in the face of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. You have more protection from unwarranted search running a meth lab in an condemned house that you do while innocently sailing about in your boat/home.
Actually the 4th amendment doesn't apply to boats on the water. you don't have protection from unwarranted search when on the water..
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Old 17-10-2015, 12:03   #51
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Re: U.S. Coast Guard boarding experience (not typical i dont think)

The search and rescue operations by the USCG are the finest in the world. They have saved untold lives. However, I found the video quite disturbing. As Captain Bill stated, the law in regards to boarding was intended for domestic/commercial/foreign vessels, not recreational vessels. As a US citizen you do not have the right to refuse boarding and must comply with all their demands. If they destroy your boat in the process, too bad. The real issue here is that most people are willing to forego their rights and freedoms and succumb to a police state mentality to feel safe. They justify these ridiculous searches based upon the great job the CG does in saving lives. So, why not acquiesce and allow boardings with no probable cause? The end of the film was the most disturbing with the crew members being swabbed for drugs. Why not a cavity search while you're at it, boys? With the billions of dollars of illegal drugs that successfully cross our southern border yearly, it is a perverse farce to interdict a recreational sailing vessel in the "war on drugs" . . . oh, yes, I forgot they're doing a safety check as well. I want it to be clear that I support the CG in their outstanding search and rescue operations. However, their interdiction of recreational vessels is a violation of our rights and another slippery slope to a growing police state in the USA. I'm happy to hear our Canadian friends to the North have disallowed this unconscionable practice.
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Old 17-10-2015, 12:04   #52
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Re: U.S. Coast Guard boarding experience (not typical i dont think)

Some thread drift here but wanted to mention some very recent experience with West Australian Fisheries.

We were approached in our dinghy, requested to show our catch (we had one squid, completely legal) and show fishing licence. Didn't have the licence on me but told them it was on the boat and could get it. They then asked if I would mind if they could come aboard the yacht and search any fridge, freezer or icebox for fish. Told them yes, I would mind and asked them what section of the Act gave them authority to do so and if I had the right to refuse.

Of course their ears all prick up like they are now talking to a real bad guy here but none of the three had any idea of the section of the law under which they were operating but assured me that they had the right to conduct the search.

We had a very friendly conversation about how I objected to this on the grounds that our boat is our residence, our only home, and we live there. I also told them that I knew for a fact that the Act does not allow entry into a "residential premises" unless given consent, under a warrant, or unless they have reasonable grounds to suspect an offence has been committed. They informed me that simply having fishing gear was reasonable grounds to suspect that I may have illegal fish.

Long story short, they basically sympathised with my objection but said they still wanted to search. What do you do? I allowed it and they carried out a most cursory search of our fridge and freezer. I'm talking lift the lid look in, close the lid. I had told them that we had no fish aboard at the time and either they believed that or were just ticking the box for their log/report.

Second search a couple of months later, we had nothing aboard either. I won't go into all of the rules and regs but one is that for the few fish that have a max size limit, they must be carried aboard whole. A few days earlier my wife had caught a very nice 78 cm barramundi which is above minimum and below maximum size limits - a perfectly legal fish. Now there is no way we would be able to fit this into our fridge whole. We photographed it on the measure tape and filleted it for the fridge.

We had it all eaten in a day or so but wanted to point out the practical limitations, clarify with these guys what we are supposed to do in this situation and if what I had done was enough for them.

Apparently no and if they had found that aboard, I would have been fined and had the fish seized. So what are we supposed to do with our lovely legal Barra I ask? The response was that we should have either released it or removed what we could eat straight away and throw the rest of the fish away. This from the ones out there supposedly charged with protecting the fishery. Madness, and I made it clear to these guys what I thought of their regulations and ways to comply.

It was all very friendly on both occasions and I fully appreciate that the officers don't make the laws but gee this riles me.

Anyway, apols for the thread drift. I will write to the fisheries department, minister etc etc and maybe a sailing and fishing mag editor. Will be to no avail I know but it just ticks me off that we have what I consider, these fundamental invasions of a persons privacy. Like I said to these officers, how would you feel if you were sitting at home watching TV and some official knocks on your door and wants to have a look through your fridge. They said they would be pretty ticked off too.

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Old 17-10-2015, 12:04   #53
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Re: U.S. Coast Guard boarding experience (not typical i dont think)

My nephew was in the USCG and did a few 90 day tours that were generally from Peru to Cabo San Lucas looking for cocaine smugglers and in that area most boats could be possible smugglers as that is the preferred method of transportation.

Back in the 80s I drove and cooked on a commercial fishing boat out of Ventura, Ca and on one trip we got caught in a Santa Ana blow near Santa Cruz Island and had no where to hide. The seas went quickly from the normal 4' to 5' seas to 20'. A USCG 96' Cutter were strolling by and new the situation and advised us to roll out our nets with anchors and tie off to the bow. They told us they would keep an eye on us in case of rescue. They stayed within a couple of yards for a few hours and radioed to us there was an emergency with some sailboats, but would be back. I have no idea how big the seas got, but a huge thanks to the USCG, they sat next to us for at least 18 hours
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Old 17-10-2015, 12:13   #54
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Re: U.S. Coast Guard boarding experience (not typical i dont think)

AS, It would seem, to some at least, that the USCG boarding procedures contravene the 4th amendment to the US Constitution. To those who share that opinion, it would seem that a warrant or probable cause would be required for search and seizure, either on land or at sea.

Unfortunately, most of us cannot sustain our passion for preserving our rights beyond the 2nd amendment. Perhaps if the USCG were to begin seizing firearms there would be an outcry.

In the meantime, we'll have to submit to search and swabbing
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Old 17-10-2015, 12:18   #55
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Re: U.S. Coast Guard boarding experience (not typical i dont think)

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Originally Posted by Jhhastie View Post
I have been boarded by the USCG in Lake Superior. They were completely professional and courteous.

One of you said in a previous post, "As the parent of a now retired Coast Guard flight officer, I can tell you, Coasties generally speaking are on the front lines most of the time. It's true they are not facing an organized army, but think about the risks they take not knowing if they will be greeted by some drugged up psychopath with a machine gun when they step on a vessel. Every day has several new threats for these folks. Also it's different from land bound police because you cant dive behind a car or something when everything goes South!"

If you don't think that drug smugglers are an organized army, think again.

The first extended interface I had with the CG was at Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam. They were responsible for weapons interdiction (Rockets, etc.) on the water as well as supervising Explosive Ordinance at the special dock for this. We worked together to prevent enemy sappers from blowing up these ships. As a counterintelligence agent, it was my responsibility to lend them any assistance I could to prevent sabotage. As a sailor today, I do the same thing. They have a tough job to do and I respect them completely.
They didn't do a very good job in the case of my ship, Westchester County LST 1167. She had two limpet mines attached to her Waterline while anchored at the mouth of the Mekong. 26 killed . If I had still been aboard, one of those killed would have been me.It was the compartment I lived in. R.I.P. SHIPMATES
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Old 17-10-2015, 12:21   #56
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Re: U.S. Coast Guard boarding experience (not typical i dont think)

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Originally Posted by rognvald View Post
.....and another slippery slope to a growing police state in the USA.
This is such an utter disregard for historical accuracy, it boggles my mind.

A "slippery slope" generally means something bad just got started.

This practice of boarding has been going on since the 1790s.

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Originally Posted by MarkSF View Post
Seriously, this whole subject gets discussed regularly in endless threads without number, and has long since been beaten to death.

Do we really need to do this AGAIN?
Mark's right.


We may not like it, but it's there. Get over the fourth amendment, it simply doesn't apply.

We got boarded years ago, on a Monday morning, just off the CG station on Yerba Buena Island in SF Bay.

Two pimply faced teenagers, one guy another a girl, both obviously on their first deployment, and obviously "in training", came aboard with their jackboots and guns.

"You need and don't have a garbage placard," they said.

"Not required on boats under 26 feet," I replied.

"You need an oil spill placard," thy said.

"Not required on boats under 26 feet and we have an outboard engine," we replied.

WE provided their "in training," since they didn't know their own rules!!!

This was in those good old days of frequent boardings, which, in most places, have ceased, thanks to public outcry. Kinda like the stupidity in Michigan and Ohio a few years ago when LEOs were repeatedly stopping the same boats over and over again on weekends.

LEOs shouldn't be allowed to do this at all, only the CG, anyway.

A few years ago the Alameda sheriff boats stopped us, and asked if they could board. "Of course," we said. They just hung out, asked to see our papers, then said, "Have a nice day." I later met the crew, who bemoaned the fact that they could only go out one day a week, Mondays no less (!), 'cuz the city had purchased the big bad-assed boat with HSD money, but didn't have the funds for maintenance, crew or FUEL (!) . so that's all they got to use the boat, since they needed a certain minimum number of hours to maintain their ratings to even drive the damn beast.

Logic does NOT apply.
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Old 17-10-2015, 12:21   #57
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Re: U.S. Coast Guard boarding experience (not typical i dont think)

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Originally Posted by pcmm View Post
Actually the 4th amendment doesn't apply to boats on the water. you don't have protection from unwarranted search when on the water..
Well, that's my point exactly. The big question is why the hell not?
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Old 17-10-2015, 12:27   #58
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Re: U.S. Coast Guard boarding experience (not typical i dont think)

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Well, that's my point exactly. The big question is why the hell not?

Well, WADR, you could do a little research and homework.

But here, I'll do it for you.

I just typed "boarding" in the fine search engine on this forum, and found this, three or four topics down from the top:

USCG Legal Search Question?
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Old 17-10-2015, 12:38   #59
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Re: U.S. Coast Guard boarding experience (not typical i dont think)

To take a slightly different tack, but one that remains, I believe, faithful to the spirit if not the letter of the thread; what do people do with flares that have passed the expiry date. I have dozens of the things that are creating a storage issue. Can I keep them aboard my vessel and use them first, saving the newer ones as a fallback, or is that illegal?
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Old 17-10-2015, 12:41   #60
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Re: U.S. Coast Guard boarding experience (not typical i dont think)

Here's the text, begging the question; When is a boat not a house and when are your body parts not your person?

Amendment IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
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