Originally Posted by lindabarzini
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.