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Old 24-02-2016, 12:46   #1
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Coast Guard/DEA boardings

I've been watching youtube sailing videos. I am surprised when I see the Coast Guard or DEA board someone's vessel, especially when there doesn't seen to be any probable cause.

How often does this happen?

I have heard the Coast Guard can examine the head and make sure it is plumbed properly. Does this actually happen?
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Old 24-02-2016, 12:57   #2
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Re: Coast Guard/DEA boardings

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Originally Posted by lindabarzini View Post
I've been watching youtube sailing videos. I am surprised when I see the Coast Guard or DEA board someone's vessel, especially when there doesn't seen to be any probable cause.

How often does this happen?

I have heard the Coast Guard can examine the head and make sure it is plumbed properly. Does this actually happen?
The USCG boarded my boat in Norfolk, VA. They did not examine the head plumbing. They asked to see our photo IDs and the boat's documentation certificate.
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Old 24-02-2016, 13:01   #3
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Re: Coast Guard/DEA boardings

I've been boarded twice, once by US Boarder/Customs and once by US Coast Guard. Both times they were polite and professional. No problems and they have my respect.


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Old 24-02-2016, 13:02   #4
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Re: Coast Guard/DEA boardings

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By enacting the Revenue Service Act, the first Congress showed unequivocally that the Coast Guard’s significant law enforcement authorities to board and search a U.S. flag vessel anywhere in the world, as well as vessels intending to call on U.S. ports, were consistent with the Fourth Amendment. U.S. Courts over the last 200 years have consistently validated the right of the Coast Guard to board and inspect vessels, probable cause or not
The Fourth Amendment Rights vs. Boarding Power of the United States Coast Guard |

Its been discussed many times.
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Old 24-02-2016, 13:05   #5
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Re: Coast Guard/DEA boardings

To put it briefly. You do not have 4th amendment rights on the water.
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Old 24-02-2016, 14:33   #6
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Re: Coast Guard/DEA boardings

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Originally Posted by lindabarzini View Post
How often does this happen?
Quite often. And remember they confiscate your boat if they find anything. Remember any drug smoking guest on board leaves cannabis resin on every surface they touch. The oil lasts for months and a simple swab and there goes your boat. Some states may have legalised it but on a boat a whole nother story!
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Old 24-02-2016, 14:52   #7
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Re: Coast Guard/DEA boardings

why do folks persist in believing that the constitution covers boats underway???? get real. it does not.
uscg does not need probable cause. suspicion and suspicion of suspicion are adequate. not only in usa waters, as uscg declared mexican and canadian waters as their own home base waters. awesome, isnt it.
remember there has been a war on drugs and human trafficking and other wondrous water based activities. and do not forget the terrorist watch list....
donot forget the patriot act..it iS still in full force...
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Old 24-02-2016, 18:55   #8
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Re: Coast Guard/DEA boardings

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Quite often. And remember they confiscate your boat if they find anything. Remember any drug smoking guest on board leaves cannabis resin on every surface they touch. The oil lasts for months and a simple swab and there goes your boat. Some states may have legalised it but on a boat a whole nother story!

Mark I gotta call bulllllogna. Do you have proof that cannabis resin has resulted in a seizure? BI believe they have to find at least a joint or two.

While technically legal impounding a boat for a joint would probably get the crew ridiculed. Of course if the lazarette is stuffed with bricks of marijuana or Coke- kiss it all good bye.

Don't misunderstand, although retired; I could still pass a CDL drug test.


Sent from my iPhone- please forgive autocorrect errors.
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Old 24-02-2016, 20:50   #9
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Re: Coast Guard/DEA boardings

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Mark I gotta call bulllllogna. Do you have proof that cannabis resin has resulted in a seizure? BI believe they have to find at least a joint or two.

While technically legal impounding a boat for a joint would probably get the crew ridiculed. Of course if the lazarette is stuffed with bricks of marijuana or Coke- kiss it all good bye.

Don't misunderstand, although retired; I could still pass a CDL drug test.


Sent from my iPhone- please forgive autocorrect errors.
Snore....sorry to go off topic....love your avatar. Ship of fools?
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Old 24-02-2016, 23:46   #10
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Re: Coast Guard/DEA boardings

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Originally Posted by lindabarzini View Post
I've been watching youtube sailing videos. I am surprised when I see the Coast Guard or DEA board someone's vessel, especially when there doesn't seen to be any probable cause.

How often does this happen?

I have heard the Coast Guard can examine the head and make sure it is plumbed properly. Does this actually happen?
===

I've been boarded, inspected and searched by USCG three times in 11 years of trawler cruising. Several were "interesting". The second boarding was in Boqueron Harbor, Puerto Rico. My wife and I had just completed a 3 day non-stop run from the Turks & Caicos and pulled into Boqueron just after sunrise. USCG was apparently waiting for us and immediately hailed on channel 16 before we anchored. We politely explained our situation and asked them to wait a few minutes while we anchored. No problem with that. They came aboard with a bunch of nice young guys, heavily armed and with combat boots, but very polite and professional. We responded in kind while they did a fairly quick search of the boat, and checked all of our safety equipment and boat papers. Apparently nothing raised their suspicions and the boarding was over in 30 minutes or less. They left us and immediately went to a 50 something sport fishing boat that had also anchored nearby. Apparently that one did not go as well for some reason and we heard later that they had called in the DEA with drug sniffing dogs. The outcome of that search is unknown but if the dogs "alert" that becomes the basis for "probable cause" and they can literally start tearing the boat apart looking for secret compartments, etc.

The last time we were boarded was about 10 miles off the Florida coast while we were going from Marco Island to Key West. There was a 20+ northerly wind and we were surfing along in 6 to 8 ft seas when we got a call on channel 16 asking us to slow down for a boarding. Sure enough, when we looked aft, a USCG 100 ft cutter was catching up to us and preparing to launch an inflatable. We eventually had to slow to almost idle speed so the inflatable could come along side and they did the boarding and inspection while we were still underway under autopilot. When asked for identification we presented them with our US passports. They then asked us for driver's licenses instead because their computer system was not set up to handle passport information! It turned out they were radioing our information back to the mother ship and trying to check us out against the NCIS database! It was tempting to start a discussion about why we should need a driver's license but discretion overruled valor and we complied with the request. Everything went OK with the inspection but when it came time to leave they had a great deal of trouble getting back into their inflatable. The helmsman was trying to match speed with us but the big waves made it difficult. The second to last man miss-stepped and ended up half in the water, holding onto one of our stanchions for dear life. The senior boarding officer and I were eventually able to grab him by the shoulders and drag him back aboard. He had literally been within inches of losing his grip and being sucked into our twin 30 inch props.
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Old 25-02-2016, 05:00   #11
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Coast Guard/DEA boardings

@ER9--- well done! Yes that is the "Ship of Fools".

@WayneB- after suffering damage from a boarding, I was told that the master of the vessel has the right to refuse the boarding if (s)he feels it will place the vessel in peril. This is based on the radio statement I got-- "prepare for a courtesy boarding". As the master I could have declined the "courtesy boarding" and offered to report to the captain of the port at the vessels next port of call.

Of course this may have resulted in me getting a body cavity search, but the boat would be okay...

And I agree if the boarding team feels something is amiss and calls for a dog; then cannibus resin can result in an ugly search. But unless there is contraband on board you don't loose the boat.



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Old 25-02-2016, 05:42   #12
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Re: Coast Guard/DEA boardings

I don't think they need a dog to justify a destructive search. If they do use one, it's just to provide additional justification. They can search without a warrant.
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Old 25-02-2016, 06:10   #13
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Re: Coast Guard/DEA boardings

As others have said, yes the USCG, under current laws, has the right to board a boat without warrant or probable cause and it seems that now includes branches of Homeland Security.

I find it highly objectionable that my home on the water doesn't give me the same rights and protections as a home on land but that's the reality of it.

From previous posts and discussions it seems that even local law enforcement authorities have given themselves the right to board without warrant or probably cause to verify your marine head complies with no discharge regulations. Have read numerous complaints about a few localities that are famous for this, quite like highway speed traps set up at the city limits of small towns to extract dollars from passing tourists.
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Old 25-02-2016, 07:07   #14
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Re: Coast Guard/DEA boardings

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I don't think they need a dog to justify a destructive search. If they do use one, it's just to provide additional justification. They can search without a warrant.

They don't, it was years ago but my Brother was boarded in his 45' Soprtfisher in S Fl.
I wasn't there, but I know my Brother, he would have been a little arrogant.
Result was every single drawer, cabinet, locker, everything was dumped into a pile in the floor, with the drawers etc thrown into the pile. I mean dishes,TV, everything.
Then they left. I feel sure he showed his arse, so they showed him theirs.
I've been "detained" but not boarded by the CBP, and I'll admit, it's difficult to not "bow up" while I'm being treated like a criminal, feeling as if I have to prove I've done no wrong, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth, but what do you do?
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Old 25-02-2016, 08:20   #15
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Re: Coast Guard/DEA boardings

Do local police actually board vessels to verify the marine head is in compliance? I hate the concept of having no rights, but with the history of drug running, I can live with it, but violating someone's privacy and boarding a vessel to inspect the head seems like a bit of a government overreach.
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