Though not the incident I remembered, this story is from the archives
of T&T (trawlers and trawlering). While the legality of a log isn't often tested one might as well do it right.
"I found that it said that "Commercial vessels over 75 tons are still
required to keep a logbook to document their activities, but today's
recreational boater is not required to keep a logbook by the Coast
Guard or anyone else...."
When I was in the Navy
, the ship kept a bound log that had numbered
pages, and every month, after it was certified, then it was shipped
off as a historical record
So, I kept a log, bound, and when I found one that had numbered
pages, I bought it. But if not, I numbered the pages myself.
In that log I kept things like position when underway, when crossing
state and country boundaries, various fuel
(like the annual fire extinguisher check,) any boardings (had a
separate book for guests), arrival and departure times, and anything
else of interest.
So, this log came in quite handy while I was living in Chicago and
out of Indiana, at a marina at the state line. Indiana sent
me a bill that I had to pay use tax. Now, per their (old) state law,
this was true if the boat is within state waters for 60 consecutive
I wrote back saying that I did not have to pay as I was not in their
state waters on these dates (which I listed) which proved that I
complied with the law.
I offered to provide them copies of my log entries documenting this.
What they wanted was receipts from marinas
where I had overnighted.
(Now, the law did NOT say that I had to be outside of their state
waters for any period of time...)
I asked them to provide a copy of the law that required this and they
said, this is how they interpreted the law...
I hired an attorney familiar with maritime law and had him try to
make them see reason. No luck. Then went before a local judge who
would not look at my log book because "I could have made it all up."
Off to the appeals court where they had a judge familiar with
maritime law. He accepted my logbook as fact after inspecting to make
sure there were no pages ripped out. He accepted that my entries in
it were real time, and therefore, probably accurate. He ruled that I
did have to pay the tax, and that the city had to pay all of my legal
costs because the log book, when so maintained, is an accurate
accounting of the "ship's" record
, and the city should have known that.
So, that book saved me just over $10k in taxes
, plus about $4k in