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Old 05-02-2009, 22:05   #31
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In addition to letters to the local authorities, a few letters to the Chamber of Commerce might get some attention. Or is Charleston trying to discourage crusiers from stopping by?

www.charlestonchamber.net
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Old 05-02-2009, 22:12   #32
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The search laws and the requirement for obtaining search warrants do not apply to boats, even if your boat is your home. Don't ask my why but they don't. If they want to come aboard, they can and they don't need a reason. This has been fought all the way to the Supreme Court a few times and each case lost.

I totally disagree, but that's how it is.

Is this true or is it the Coastguard that has the right to board a boat. My understanding (not based on fact) is that only the Coastguard has that right. Not a police officer on the water. I think that if I were in that situation I would break out a video camera and video tape everything that they did. I would also not allow them to bring dogs on the boat. After all it was a video tape that led to the demise of the cops that beat up motorist (not convicted felon) Rodney King.

I would not count this as the ultimate truth but here it is in a court ruling,"
The Coast Guard’s authority to search vessels is found at title 14 United States Code section 89(a): “The Coast Guard may make inquiries, examinations, inspections, searches, seizures, and arrests upon . . . waters over which the United States has jurisdiction, for the prevention, detection, and suppression of violations of laws of the United States. For such purposes, commissioned, warrant, and petty officers may at any time go on board of any vessel subject to the jurisdiction, or to the operation of any law, of the United Sates, address inquiries to those on board, examine the ship’s documents and papers, and examine, inspect, and search the vessel and use all necessary force to compel compliance.”
This statute gives the Coast Guard plenary authority to stop vessels for document and safety inspections, but like any federal regulation, it is subject to constitutional limitations, including those imposed by the Fourth Amendment. (United States v. Watson (9th Cir. 1982) 678 F.2d 765, 771.) The Fourth Amendment impresses a reasonableness standard which calls for balancing the competing individual and governmental interests. In deciding whether a particular law enforcement practice is permissible, we balance the objective and subjective intrusion on the defendant’s Fourth Amendment interests against the promotion of legitimate governmental interests, evaluated in light of alternative mechanisms available.

To my reading this would give me as the owner of the boat to refuse police officers onboard and dogs.
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Old 05-02-2009, 22:29   #33
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Except for the border patrol...

Which by presidential order lays claim to the right to search anyone within 150 miles of a US border and customs jurisdiction. Which, of course, includes almost everywhere in the USA. And any Homeland Security action can be covered under that. There are a number of people who are looking for a test case for that...

Aqua: Very sorry to hear of your experience. If you are interested in following up on it, you might consider calling the ACLU or a more local to Charleston non-governmental organization which similarly acts to protect citizen's rights. But if so... well, it's no longer a cruising topic at that point.
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Old 05-02-2009, 22:34   #34
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If you actually read the rulings on the subject it would appear that the right to board and inspect your vessel applies only to the USCG and Customs service/border patrol. In practice local law enforcement has used the same rulings to justify their boardings and the courts have been backing them up. The supreme court is refering to the 1984 ruling and refusing to hear the cases. ACLU lawyers don't seem to be interested in fighting it as the court has spoken. Unfortunately all of the cases I have seen involved real bad guys, usually drug runners, trying to get evidence thrown out of court. None of them involve actual innocent boaters whose personal civil rights were being violated. The issue is that most people can't afford to spend a fortune to take a case forward when in reality all they would get would be a few thousand dollars worth of damage paid for even if they won. The
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Old 05-02-2009, 22:37   #35
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Sorry hit the wrong key and posted before I was done. The key here seems to be that Aquaholic went with the locals and then the border patrol/customs and USCG did the search. Even if the dogs belong to the locals as long as a border patrol officer is present thay can pretty much do anything they want.
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Old 05-02-2009, 22:47   #36
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Here's a present: CharlestonPolice@ci.charleston.sc.us The Charleston police email address. Give the word Aqua, and Although I only speak for myself, I believe they'll be receivin' some fan mail...
I just now was able to get back on my boat. It was sitting on land an hour ago and hanging on by 2 bow lines. Pretty hairy.

Christian, thanks for the support but I believe thats the Charleston city police. This was county/sherrif's dept that ran me through the ringer.
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Old 05-02-2009, 22:48   #37
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Well Capt. Bill if you and others are correct, seems that just goes to prove that America as we knew it is over! TEA PARTY anyone.
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Old 05-02-2009, 23:13   #38
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If this thread wants to get political then we will close it. It's not that it's off topic but it is political. In an international forum it usually ends up a mess. Legal and political commentary has generally led to more argument and less substance. Hijacking this thread to entice political debate is not a proper use of the forum.

The facts of this situation are significant and appropriate though it seems much of the commentary is not. We are not a political forum or a chat room.

Thanks for the kind words, Paul. However, it seems to me that if you close threads for containing insignificant commentary, there would be few threads left open. Everyone here is 'playing nice' and all replies seems to be in complete agreement with the exception of yours.

Stand vigilant in your moderating duty but if everyone is getting along you really should give us a little more room to run. Even if it's one of my threads. Forums are for discussing things after all.

Just my two cents. Please don't ban me or close my thread.
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Old 05-02-2009, 23:18   #39
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It's like the old frog story, if you throw it in boiling water it will jump out, but put it in cold water and turn up the heat slowly and it will stay there and cook. Unfortunately a lot of people haven't recognized that we are approaching well done.

Lets not romanticize the old america. The reason that I have a problem with things like this is that as a young man, while preparing to go scuba diving, I was taken into custody by the Volusia county sherrif's department in Florida. I had done nothing, just like Aquaholic I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. While they held me they proceeded to search my car supposedly looking for drugs. There weren't any, so they eventually let me go. In the meantime they had stolen the scuba gear out of my trunk! I complained to every law enforcement department I could find and was blown off by all of them. This was nearly 40 years ago.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-police, my daughter married one. The issue is that a lot of police officers are on a bit of a power trip. I have met and worked with a number of courteous and considerate police officers who do a difficult job for very little money, unfortunately the power tripping guys the ones you hear about.
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Old 05-02-2009, 23:19   #40
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Sorry hit the wrong key and posted before I was done. The key here seems to be that Aquaholic went with the locals and then the border patrol/customs and USCG did the search. Even if the dogs belong to the locals as long as a border patrol officer is present thay can pretty much do anything they want.

Actually, Bill, there was no USCG present. If there were, I think it would not have gone so badly.
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Old 05-02-2009, 23:21   #41
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I stand corrected.
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Old 05-02-2009, 23:40   #42
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Aqua, can you provide specifics, time, exact location, officers names, agency, uniform color, car colors etc. I for one am going to send e-mail, unless you would rather not, as I am sure you are still stranded, and would like all of the info available.
I can only provide some of those. Location was at approx. mile 475 in ICW. Time was from about noon until 3:45. The dog guys and customs were in plain clothes and civilian type trucks/SUVs. The rest were cops wearing mustang jackets and I didn't get their names as I was trying to be cordial to speed the process along and felt if I started writing down names and badge numbers they would find something else to harrass me over.

I don't care if anyone wants to send an email, but honestly can't see it making any difference and if I follow up it will likely be through the newspaper editorial page where at least it will be seen by someone. It's my word against all of theirs together so I'm not expecting much action from the authorities.
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Old 06-02-2009, 00:06   #43
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They wouldn't have wasted their time or yours without some good reason. You either pissed someone off who knew who to call and the right words to say, or your boat matched one that they were looking for. The CG and now the Homeland Security People have the right to board your boat, even in the Marina.

When the drug war was the thing in the '70s, the CG was boarding boats right and left. When we got back from SoPac, we were boarded at least 6 times in a month and, once, twice in a day sailing around Hawaii. They weren't just picking on us 'cause we just returned from overseas, they were boarding boats all around us. It seemed to be a common thing all over the country. The intense scrutinay subsided after awhile but the CG still does random 'Safety Inspections'.

There apparently was a list of suspected drug smuggling boats that was disseminated around the world. There was a large, modern Ketch that got hassled in every country they went to. The people had gotten a good deal on the boat but never met or knew who the owner was. Apparently the owner had been into drugs but may not have used the boat for smuggling. Since the boat was associated with a druggy, it made the list. Just wasting their time and sicking dogs on them would have been a good inspection for them. When they checked into Papeete, the Gendarmes virtually dismantled the boat. They were never actually given the list of offending boats but the cops kind of intimated that the list existed but wouldn't officially say so. The bad part was they couldn't pin it down that the list actually existed so couldn't get the boat expunged from the list. They eventually sold the boat to get out from under the cloud.

Unfortunately, it's something that we are going to have to live with until the crazies decide to stop doing crazy things.

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Old 06-02-2009, 04:27   #44
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If this thread wants to get political then we will close it.
IMHO this comment is out of line. In your opinion, discussing the rights of boaters is political?

Boater's rights are apolitical.

As a valuable member of the boating community, this forum must certainly strive to understand the difference.
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Old 06-02-2009, 05:41   #45
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As Cartman so convincingly sang....Blame Canada! LOL J/K but as a Canadian reading stories like this it makes one wonder if it wouldn't be better to head south via the Carib 1500? Sure would be a shame to have to miss the US East Coast due to draconian enforcement of laws that allow for little recourse if you feel wronged.
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