You had better have all the documents and licenses, etc. for several reasons. You are asked for your USCG documentation, passports and visas if necessary, at each foreign country you enter. You cannot get legally back into the USA without a valid US passport for each US citizen on-board. More and more you are being tracked by computers
in each country as they modernize and link into the US Homeland Security
system which is growing rapidly in the Caribbean
I have been boarded while at anchor
in a French Island by the Customs
officials and they wanted to look at everything.
Also the US Coast Guard roams the whole Caribbean looking for "drug runners" and when they have a "slow day" they will board your US flagged vessel and do a "safety and security
inspection" which includes all the fire extinguishers, PFD's, flares, paperwork, licenses and anything else that is required for US vessels. And they will do this anywhere in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico
- and even in the Pacific and - even inside the Bahamas
. So you had better save yourself potential serious grief by having all the required paperwork and other necessary safety parts
of the vessel.
- - And one other little "zinger" - if your vessel is over 40 feet long (LOA) you will need a USCG approved waste disposal "trash plan" or be subject to a US$500 fine if you do get boarded by the US Coast Guard and they are really having a bad day. That little document is their "ace in the hole" to "got-cha". If you successfully pass the inspection
they will give you a copy of the report known as the pink sheet which you can show to any subsequent US Coast Guard boardings and get a "free pass" for one year. You can find examples of the "Trash Plan" by goggling it or looking on the BoatUS website - it used to be posted there. It is a simple one page document that states that one particular person onboard - the captain
- is responsible for the proper collection and disposal of all trash from the vessel. It came about from the experiences with cruise
ships and freighters who dumped their trash just before entering a US harbor and when caught claimed that some "seaman last class" did it unauthorized.