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Old 18-03-2009, 16:57   #16
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Originally Posted by Kiteboarder View Post
While in Puerto Rico, I was once boarded by the DRN - Called the DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES. They are pretty much the "water police" or "CG" of Puerto Rico. Although, as a US territory, the USCG operates in Puerto Rico too. So basically, there are 3 entities on the water there: State Police, DRN, and USCG.

Long story short... DRN is well known for not cutting people slack. They'll ticket you on a whim. Well, it seems they were trying to find any little thing to try and ticket me. Good that my brother and I were both prepared and we had everything up to date. No matter what he asked me, I was able to respond. Safety equipment, registration, insurance, boating license, lights, etc.

They were very polite and professional though. And all went well.
Kiteboard,

Did they really ask you for your insurance? Do they require it down there?
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Old 18-03-2009, 17:59   #17
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Things have changed a lot since then. This little incident occured about 14 years ago. So, I might need to rephrase that statement and exclude the word insurance. I was 16, and my dad used to keep up with the paperwork. Which means, we might have had insurance, or we might have not. Point being, that everything they required at the time, we had on-board and up to date.

3 years before that incident, kids were allowed to drive motorboats regardless of age. Then they passed a law that they must be 14, then it went up to 16, and finally they were requiring a license. I'm not going to go into details on that as I don't want to derail the thread. But, what I'm trying to say is, please check current information as nowadays they might require insurance. Try and google "Departamento de Recursos Naturales Puerto Rico" You might need to know some spanish for that though.
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Old 18-03-2009, 20:41   #18
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In fact I was thinking about getting that done the same day that I was boarded by the CG.
A USCG Auxiliary inspection is a good thing to do but it it won't prevent a USCG boarding inspection. I get one every year and if it reminds you to do one thing then it was worth the time. You can fail every point with the auxiliary and they can tell you all you need to correct any problems. They can't write you up and they are helpful. Better to have it done and know you are in order.

If you are boarded by the USCG you get a copy of the report and if recent that will prevent a second boarding if the reason is a spot safety check. A USCG auxiliary Inspection sticker won't deter the USCG. They tend to work better with State Marine Police and they don't often enjoy the same professional reputation as the USCG. The USCG has both police and military powers unlike police. Most carry automatic weapons. In this part of the world we have a lot of them both active and retired. They have earned the good reputation they generally enjoy.
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Old 18-03-2009, 20:42   #19
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What happened to the Fourth Amendment?
Was it repealed by the Coast Guard?
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Old 18-03-2009, 22:54   #20
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Its a smart thing to not require the USCG to have a search warrant. Boats can go to other countries, pick up bad stuff (arms, drugs, WMD's, etc) whereas your house cannot. If your car is going across the border, then it can be searched without warrant. Just make sure you are on the up and up and there will be no problemo. I am fine with them searching my boat every once in a while if it keeps bad crap out of our county. Just my 2c.
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Old 19-03-2009, 09:48   #21
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Its a smart thing to not require the USCG to have a search warrant. Boats can go to other countries, pick up bad stuff (arms, drugs, WMD's, etc) whereas your house cannot. If your car is going across the border, then it can be searched without warrant. Just make sure you are on the up and up and there will be no problemo. I am fine with them searching my boat every once in a while if it keeps bad crap out of our county. Just my 2c.
That makes total sense. I agree with you 100% on this one.
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Old 19-03-2009, 10:18   #22
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I'm afraid I have to take issue with both of you on the coast guard not requiring a search warrant. On the high seas and before one has cleared customs when coming from abroad then this position might be reasonable. Customs and the USCG are now in the same dept. It should take only seconds to determine if you have cleared in or not. If you are on the water, I might agree that they should be able to make a documentation and safety inspection. The real problem I have is their freedom to board, break into, and search your vessel when it is tied to a dock. This is no different than having an RV parked in a KOA. The search warrant is required to search the RV, why not the boat? Yes your car or RV can be searched without a warrant when crossing the border, but after you have cleared in any further searches require a warrant. I don't think it is unreasonable to be asked to be treated in the same manner and with the same rights as anyone else.
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Old 19-03-2009, 21:38   #23
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Captain Bill....do you have evidence that this actually happened somewhere?

I have been on the water most of my life, and in the marine community I have never heard about this ever happening.

Just to let you know, in Maryland, refusal to allow boarding by the DNR is a finable offence....$500.00......it mainly has to do with commercial crabbers/oystermen and other "stewards of the environment"
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Old 20-03-2009, 00:29   #24
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Chief Engineer: Oh, there we go. You said DNR - So I see that in Maryland, they use the same name as in Puerto Rico. (DRN) - Only in a different order. Interesting.
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Old 20-03-2009, 07:00   #25
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Legaly, does local law enforcement have the same right to board, search etc, as the coast guard ? I would have thought that on the water federal juristiction over "all navigable waters" would restrict the locals. At the dock is your boat different from your car ? I'm not quite willing to take Maryland's behavior as difinitive evidence.
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Old 20-03-2009, 09:55   #26
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While I have not heard of the USCG boarding vessels tied to a dock, there have been documented cases of local water cops boarding occupied vessels at marinas without warrants. Many of these cases have been in Florida under their definition of a houseboat. Note that florida law defines a houseboat as any vessel occupied more than 21 days out of 30. It also doesn't care where those 21 days occurred, so if, as a cruiser, you spend 3 weeks on your boat bringing it down the coast you are a houseboat and subject to inspection to make sure you meet their houseboat specific requirements as soon as you cross the border. It would seem from some of the descriptions of the searches that they went further than inspecting your holding tank and Y-valve lock/position. While I have not heard of cases where boats were actually broken into, I've heard unconfirmed stories that marina personnel were asked to unlock boats. Those may just be rumors, but there is nothing in the law that says the boat must be occupied when they inspect it.

With respect to Maryland law and probably similar laws in other states, the treatment of commercial vehicles has always been different than private vehicles. I have never had to pull into a weigh station or agricultural inspection station in my private vehicle. Hold on a second I take that back. I remember as a child having our car inspected and having to give up a bag of oranges when crossing the border into California from Arizona. In any case, I believe that it is pretty easy for a water cop to determine if a boat is a commercial or private vessel and to apply able to apply different standards to them just as they do to commercial and private vehicles.

For those who say that since a boat can leave the country different standards should apply to boats. I have an airplane that can leave the country. Once I have come back in and been cleared by customs, it requires a warrant if anyone wants to do more than look at the outside of my airplane or ask to inspect the documents (registration, airworthiness certificate, inspection logs, etc.). I have to show them the documents, but I do not have to allow them aboard the aircraft. They do not have the right to enter my airplane without a warrant.

For those who say the water border is more open so any vessel with access to the sea should be subject to inspection at any time without a warrant (this is the current law and the reasoning behind it), I point out that the borders with Canada and Mexico are largely wide open to anyone with an adequate 4 wheel drive vehicle. The courts have not affirmed the right of law enforcement to stop and inspect all such vehicles without probable cause or a warrant. In fact the courts have pretty consistantly come down on the side of the individual in these instances. Examples of unprovoked inspections and even property damage caused by local water cops and C&BP can be found in this forum. These customs and border patrol inspections are often on boats that have not recently been out of the country, or may never have been out of the country. I believe that this is simply abusive and that critcal resources could be better spent on dealing with boats that have actually left the country and come back. Harassing mom and pop traveling up and down the ICW is simply abusive.

My point is that private recreational boats should be treated just like any other type of private vehicle with respect to search and seizure under the 4th amendment. I know that the current law is largely based on customs laws established in the late 1700's. How many private recreational vessels existed when that law was developed? The answer is probably pretty close to zero. These laws were developed to be applied to commercial vessels and should continue to be. With AIS on commercial vessels I think it's pretty reasonable to be expect that the USCG and C&BP to be able to see when these vessels have been off shore. It may even be reasonable to require AIS on any vessel crossing into our national waters. With respect to the airplane I am required to have a transponder to cross the air defense initiation zone (the aerial equivalent of national waters). Any airplane attempting to cross into this zone without a transponder is subject to interception and possible attack. That pretty much discourages abuse by anyone besides drug runners. C&BP already keeps a large fleet of boats and aircraft for intercepting them.

I simply don't see any logical reason why in the 21st century my constitutional rights should cease to exist simply because I get on a boat.
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Old 20-03-2009, 10:43   #27
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Was Boarded by USCG in the pacific off the coast of Baja. They were very professional (and 2 of 3 green with seasickness!) I had dropped all sails which probably helped. They want to see that you have things like the discharge plaque etc. This was obviously so that they could look inside any where that the plaque etc might be mounted. Mine was on the inside of the engine access hatch, they looked in every cranny of the engine room with their flashlight . No problems though.
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Old 20-03-2009, 12:21   #28
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Coast Guard Boarding

Boating in the Gulf of Mexico in and around the Biloxi area, the USCG has a very heavy and visible presence. I have only been boarded once and I am pretty sure it was directly related to a couple of well filled bikini's aboard. They were very polite and professional. More often they just pull up beside you and ask you to hold up a life jacket for each person aboard. I know a bunch of the local guys and I can assure all that you don't want to piss them off. They are always professional but they can make it easy or hard if you push them. Make sure your boat is compliant and welcome them aboard. Remember, they are there for your safety.
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Old 20-03-2009, 12:36   #29
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Old 20-03-2009, 14:47   #30
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I heard this story last week. Is this possible.

A sailboat was forceably boarded by the Coast Guard Auxilliary, not the regular Coast Guard.

First, they demanded to know if the couple had any guns on board. When they responded affirmatively, the boarding party said not to get them, but to show them where they were. The boarding party then inspected the rest of the boat. Finally, the boarding party gave them a ticket with various violations and fines.

If this story is accurate, does the CG Auxilliary have the authority to forceably board someones boat?

I thought they were just volunteers without law enforcement authority.
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