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.