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Old 04-05-2010, 18:40   #1
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More Boardings than Normal by USCG ?

I know there was another thread about coast guard boarding in international waters but it got a little lost and convoluted as the thread grew in size. I just want to ask plainly if the U.S. coast guard harasses everyone (all international flags) or mainly the U.S. flagged yachts??

I've heard some horrendous stories about U.S. locals constantly getting questioned and boarded several times withing a few miles of where they departed for a day trip.

Can anyone fill in their experience, good or bad with U.S. coast guards? And I am not bashing anyone as I am fully aware that they are well under manned and under-resourced, but that doesn't justify their crazy behavior when you have fully compliant yachties..

Cheers..
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Old 04-05-2010, 19:44   #2
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I've been sailing for 37 years, and I have never been stopped by the Coast Guard.
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Old 04-05-2010, 20:02   #3
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I have never had any bad experience with CG. I've never been boarded but any other contact (passing on the water, contacting vessel traffic, organizing events with their support) was an excellent experience.
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Old 04-05-2010, 20:19   #4
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We were boarded on the way home from the keys on 4-20-10 at 1250 2 NM W of Naples.

I had been working on connections to the wind instruments and was having the wife change course 30 degrees at a time. Had done this a few times and I came forward to the cockpit to look at the wind instrument and noticed nothing. I looked at the wind instrument and then caught something to Port. Poof and they were there. I picked up the radio to see why we had not heard it. It was on. They said they were going to board and I said "OK, did you call me?" and they said, with a smile, "No".

They were on board for 8 minutes. They checked documentation, our ID, jackets and fire extinguishers and then gave me a nice yellow copy.

Only one long rub mark trying to get off after laying alongside to pick up the two boarders.

I wonder if my erratic course somehow attracted them.
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Old 04-05-2010, 20:52   #5
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Depending upon your location - more boardings are normally in known drug/human trafficking areas and the day of the week - more boardings on weekends and holidays when "less than competent boaters take to the waters." Otherwise is it a rare occurrence - more dependent upon your karma than your area.
- - Boardings by USCG of non-US boats is very rare unless you are in a known drug/human trafficking area and visually they can see the 100 Haitians (and/or others) you have crowded on your 30 foot LOA boat deck.
- - As others have mentioned, the first radio contact and first few minutes of their presence on board will set the tone of the encounter. Your attitude towards them is probably the most determining factor in a polite or tense situation.
- - This pretty much holds for other country's Coast Guards/Customs/Immigration officials as well. Answering their questions briefly and truthfully will shorten the time. If your answers are hesitant or diversionary you most likely will be thoroughly searched and any discrepancy dealt with harshly.
- - The yellow slip from the USCG is supposed to be carte blanche against repeat boardings within one year unless you really peak their interest.
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Old 04-05-2010, 21:10   #6
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They question what I am doing often because I do things that are pretty out of the ordinary or go into restricted areas to do my work. But they have not come aboard in many years. They generally don't randomly board commercial or work boat looking vessels.

I have not seen any more presence than usual nor any more boardings of pleasure craft than usual. Not on the SF Bay at least.
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Old 04-05-2010, 22:50   #7
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The last time I was boarded by the Coast Guard was 1977. Actually they didn't board us, they just pulled alongside and yelled at us a little.

You see we were teenagers. And a bunch of us had taken a Mako down off Newport to watch the 1977 America's cup race. We had gotten a little too close to the race - well maybe a lot too close. Some of the girls on board thought that if they took off their tops it would distract the Australian boat and cause them to lose the race. Sort of our patriotic duty. The girls had also heard that the Aussies were having great parties at the mansion they'd rented in Newport and figured this might get an invite - on further thought this may have been the primary motivation rather than patriotic duty.

It didn't seem to be working (although I was enjoying the attempt) so the girls wanted to get closer.

That's when the Coast Guard stopped us.

The Aussies did lose, I like to think we did our part

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Old 04-05-2010, 22:55   #8
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Old 05-05-2010, 12:57   #9
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Oh!
Thanks for the ROFL.
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Old 05-05-2010, 13:42   #10
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Thanks everyone for your contribution to my question. It is great to get everyone's experience, both good or bad, about your encounters. I've heard both sides and they've always been cool with me as well. Hell, I had one live in my building and I would see him all the time in the sauna and we'd chat it up about some current events.

Thank you also for keeping it right on topic with your experience!!

Cheers
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Old 06-05-2010, 09:54   #11
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I lost count of the times I have been boarded by the USCG , I never had any problems or considered it an harassment , they come on to check that people know what they are doing and that the boat is seaworthy and legitimate. I have been called ( and subsequently boarded) by cutters that I could not even see , checked from helicopters or just boarded from patrol boats , boarded in US waters and sometimes quite far . Recently they even started wearing deck shoes rather then boots when they board , and we have to appreciate that.
I'm not sure about the undermanned and overworked part , but I guess it all depends on what standard you apply. And I may well be wrong but I assume that most of the "bad" experiences that people have when boarded start with an uncooperative attitude from sailors who think that a CG inspection is an infringement of their "liberty".
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Old 06-05-2010, 10:33   #12
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I am someone who has had bad experiences with being boarded, always related to where they decided to board us. The first bad experience was when operating a small powerboat crossing a marked shipping lane. We were crossing perpendicular with plenty of room (there was large vessel traffic) and the coast guard came over and told us to stop so that they could board us. I politely asked whether it would be alright if we motored in company out of the shipping lane and did it there. Their response was that it would be fine to do it right there. Needless to say, we got yelled at by the harbor pilot on the radio and I ended up motoring out of the lane with some of the coasties on board who were not real happy that we were moving but we were directly in the way of a large commercial vessel who had gotten much closer than I was comfortable with.

The next time we were beating into 10-15' seas and were hailed by a nearby cutter. They started the conversation by telling us to drop all of our sails and hold position with the engine so that they could board us. I politely suggested that if they were willing to wait half an hour, we would be in the protection of an island and it would be safer for us to take the sails down (what a pain regardless) and it would be safer for their guys to get on board. They refused to accept this and launched their boat while we had to take down the sails with the foredeck going underwater. I felt alot better when the inspection was cut short because both boarding officers had become seasick. Beyond being a pain, it was dangerous for us and for them and highly unprofessional.

The last bad experience was this year when I was working on a commercial sailing vessel which ran aground on an unmarked rock while making ~.5 knots under power in a narrow channel. Once it was clear that we could be there for 3 hours or so, we ran a line to a nearby mooring to give us control over the bow when we would refloat. The coasties showed up (that was nice) and put an investigative team onboard who proceeded to make it much harder for us to do anything productive. They insisted that we should hire a tugboat (which there wasn't room for) to pull us off as soon as possible which would have caused much more damage than waiting for the tide since it was perfectly calm. In addition, even though they did not know what plank on frame construction is, they tried to explain to us that we should be worried about the "deck to hull joint failing catastrophically" on a sailing vessel that was heeled only slightly more than 10 degrees. Our concern was over the torsional force placed on the keel to frame joint which could cause the vessel to sink and was the only force not present under normal operation. In addition, requiring every passenger and crewmember to wear lifejackets is fine, but only if the coasties do it themselves and set a good example, they took theirs off immediately before telling the crew that we needed to wear them. After we floated off and moved to a safe anchorage under our own power, after much debate, we agreed that having a diver who knows wooden boats come and inspect the hull was the right thing to do. The sum total of the damage was a splinter about the size of your thumb on the wormshoe. The outcome was that the owner of the vessel was given a warning for trying to back off the rock before calling the coast guard rather than trying to back off while there was still a chance before the tide fell any more then calling them.

I have had some perfectly fine experiences with them but as explained above, not all of them have been. In the first two situations, the officers created a dangerous situation out of an otherwise reasonable one and in the last one, they prevented a crew who was extremely experienced and knows wooden boats quite well from working on the problem correctly.
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Old 06-05-2010, 12:03   #13
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Why is the topic heading different to the question asked?

Who cares how many time you guys get pulled over. You must be bad boatmen if the Coast Guard feels you need to be pulled over.

As the UK law always said: If the Police arrest you there must be a reason!
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Old 06-05-2010, 12:37   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkJ View Post
Who cares how many time you guys get pulled over. You must be bad boatmen if the Coast Guard feels you need to be pulled over.
You would be surprised at what people think it's interesting reading. Some people's excitement bores others to tears , some people's new experiences are old hat to others . Maybe I am a bad boatman , but you are not in the position to say it and as far as I know the CG does not need any break of rules or seamanship to board you , I never had any citation or even a simple warning .
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Old 06-05-2010, 12:41   #15
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B.S.

"Who cares how many time you guys get pulled over. You must be bad boatmen if the Coast Guard feels you need to be pulled over."


I used to respect your opinion.
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