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Old 24-05-2008, 10:23   #1
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What happens if you're boarded by the Coast Guard?

I've never been boarded before. Is it like a police traffic stop? Do you just give them your ID and boat papers?

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Old 24-05-2008, 10:33   #2
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Old 24-05-2008, 11:23   #3
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Before you even get boarded, make sure your documentation or registration is in order and your boat complies with all the safety and pollution requirements.

When getting boarded, be friendly and respectful to them. That goes a LONG way towards making your boarding easier...even if the average age of the boarding party is 20 years old. The Coasties can make your boarding a miserable experience if they choose to do so. So get on their good side as soon as possible. Keep in mind these are young men and women who are following a script of what they are supposed to just go along with their program.

Oh yeah, offer them some donuts. Just kidding.

Second, do what they want and answer their questions. Most of what they request is usually pretty reasonable.

Yes, it can be irritating and a seeming waste of your time to get boarded, but do those things and chances are very good that there will be no problems and it will take a minimum amount of your time.

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Old 27-05-2008, 20:37   #4
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Old 27-05-2008, 23:48   #5
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Old 28-05-2008, 05:12   #6
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It's also important to note that you lose most of your inherent rights and freedom when you step onto your boat. Unlike at home or in your car, you have no protection against illegal search and seizure. In your car, they can ask you for your ID and registration, and then if they want to search they have to have 'probable cause'. If there is no probable cause and you've done nothing wrong, you can tell them to get lost-you don't have time to deal with being searched, and they have to leave you alone. At home, they have to have a search warrant to enter, or again, some real 'probable cause'. On your boat however, any water cop can pretty much board and pillage your boat at their whim. Hence, all the advice to be really, really nice to them.
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Old 28-05-2008, 07:16   #7
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I believe that the Coastguard Auxillary does safety inspections on private boats where they will tell you your deficiencies but will not recorrd this as a problem. In fact I was thinking about getting that done the same day that I was boarded by the CG. They were very freiendly and professional. I didn't have three items. A ships Bell (Which was misplaced but on the boat), My documentation papers (I now keep them on the boat), and I had an outdated copy of the rules of the road. They didn't nick me for two other items -- Documentation numbers affixed to the hull and a locking sustem for the head handles. I fixed all the items within a day of being boarded. I just called everybody sir and was very polite and respectful.
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Old 28-05-2008, 08:01   #8
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I haven't been boarded by the Coast Guard, but a few weeks ago, I requested a safety inspection by the Auxiliary. He went through the boat in a very courteous way, checked that I had no deficiencies, gave me the current rules of the road, discharge regulations sticker and then affixed a safety inspection sticker under the HIN on the transom.
In all it took about 15 or 20 minutes.
He said that since I had the safety inspection sticker, it was unlikely that I would be boarded by the Coast Guard for any reason (except if we had an accident, were seen drinking alcohol or just being stupid )
It was well worth the little time it took in my opinion.
Oh, ya - he gave the kids all coupons for free ice cream since they were all wearing their PFD's around the water.

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Old 28-05-2008, 09:59   #9
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I had a safety inspection done about 6 months ago by the Auxiliary CG, they were very nice people. Everthing pasted fine, they even inspected the dinghy and gave me a inspection sticker for the boat and the dinghy.
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Old 28-05-2008, 13:15   #10
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It depends on the reason for the boarding. If they are out doing routine inspections, you can expect the Coastee to go over a check list of items: documentation, life vests, fire extinguishers, rules of the road; fresh flares, and other required items on board. Sometimes they are looking for drugs and may just ask questions. iI you're anchored under a bridge fishing, or doing something suspicious, they may ask what you're doing. I haven't been boarded in 20 years but I see others boarded occasionally. I hear the Coastees are profesional and curteous around here.

A few years back, the Coastees came to the aid of a boat a few slips down from me. The guy was taking on water fast. He radioed the CG for assistance. The first question was location. The guy says municipal harbor, slip 14. Tne next question, how many souls on board. Answer- one. Long pause. Next question: can you step off onto the dock. Answer: why would I do that, my boat will sink if I leave my pump. A short argument ensued about whether the Coatees would bring a pump since no life was in peril. In about two minutes the Coatees were there and kept the boat afloat while the owner fixed the leak. By then we had all gathered around trying to figure out how to suspend the vessel from the dock but were no match for the equipment provided by the CG. They are good to have around when something goes wrong.
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Old 29-05-2008, 00:41   #11
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U.S. Coast Guard Boarding Policy:
U.S. Coast Guard Boarding Policy

The U.S. Coast Guard is the primary maritime law enforcement agency of the U.S.

Authority: Section 89 of Title 14 of the United States Code authorizes the Coast Guard to board vessels subject to the jurisdiction of the U.S., anytime upon the high seas and upon waters over which the United States has jurisdiction, to make inquiries, examinations, inspections, searches, seizures and arrests.

What to expect: A uniformed CG boarding team will notify you that they are coming aboard to conduct a CG boarding. Like other law enforcement officers, they will be armed. Once on board they will conduct an initial safety inspection to identify any obvious safety hazards, and to ensure the sea worthiness of your vessel. The boarding officer will then ask to see the vessel registration or documentation, and proceed to inspect your vessel. The scope of the vessel inspection, during most boardings, is limited to determining the vessel's regulatory status (e.g. commercial, recreational, passenger, cargo, and/or fishing vessel) and checking for compliance with U.S. civil law applicable to vessels of that status. The CG may also enforce U.S. criminal law. The boarding officer will complete a Coast Guard boarding form, and note any discrepancies. You will get a signed copy before they depart.

Report of Boarding: When a CG boarding officer issues you a boarding report, they will either issue a yellow copy, if no discrepancies were noted, or a white copy if there were. A white copy will indicate a warning or a notice of violation. The CG boarding officer should explain the procedures to follow in each case. In any event, those procedures are written on the reverse of the form. If you have any questions ask the CG boarding officer, or call the U.S. Coast Guard Infoline at 800-368-5647.
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Old 29-05-2008, 12:03   #13
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FWIW, the can board anytime, anywhere rule does apply dockside. If you live aboard dockside, your home can be entered without permission, and you can not decline.
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Old 18-03-2009, 13:27   #14
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While bringing home the new (to us) boat on Saturday we were boarded. I suppose they had their choice of us or the 5 tugs out working.

They came up from behind, and those boats are quiet, and after identifying themselves asked if the could board.

I was asked to get my registration and ID ready while they readied themselves. They hung out fenders and got the boarding officer into postion. They asked about weapons on board before sending him over. Once they were ready the did all the work to get close and over comes the boarding officer (pimples and 9MM). I opened the lifeline gate for him and he seemed to appreciate that.

He went through the questions quickly and politely (number of people on board, PFDs, throwables, sound device, etc) and sent my registration (a temporary one while I wait on the great state of Maryland to get me something permenate).

While we waited for them to sort the paper work he made small talk.

In the end it was 10 minutes, we kept making time towards home and the whole crew (total of four on the boat) were polite and friendly.

Once we sent them back their crew they beared away and put some distance before going on plane. Those boats disappear fast (and did I mention how quiet) when they hit it. I don't believe they are just twin 225s on there.

All in all it really was no hassle other than killing our moving average. We were only 45 minutes from home on a 7 hour trip and it was cold. New experience and I should be "good for the rest of the season" on boardings.
Sing to a sailor's courage, Sing while the elbows bend,
A ruby port your harbor, Raise three sheets to the wind.
......................-=Krynnish drinking song=-
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Old 18-03-2009, 15:49   #15
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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.

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