Originally Posted by jaga
This is all so incredibly confusing for non-Americans trying to enter by 'yacht', and near impossible to get a consistent answer. I'm a yank but spent the winter (on my boat) in Victoria B.C. and had several marina neighbors very concerned about this, particularly those who were non-American or Canadian. One was told clearly by someone in U.S. Customs that it applied to all non-US yachts, while I asked on their behalf at the customs dock
in Roche Harbor and they were totally unaware of it, just handing me the standard entry to the US by boat pamphlet (which makes no mention of the pilot fee) when I pressed.
It is annoying, and I regret it. I wrote to my legislators, but I don't actually expect it to accomplish anything useful.
The law referred to is a Washington State law, and I don't know of any enforcement mechanism for it, which is appropriate, because it is completely idiotic. Clearing formalities are handled by Federal authorities, and they wouldn't have much interest in enforcing a state law.
In many countries, there is no real division between local and national enforcement, but in the US we have city, county, state, and federal levels of government
, each with their own laws and enforcers: City police, county sheriffs, state troopers (usually patrolling highways,) and various federal enforcement agencies for different kinds of laws. On the water
, you would be dealing at the federal level with the Coast Guard. All of the federal stuff has been reshuffled, with many enforcement agencies now part of the Department of Homeland Security
. On salt water
, you are usually dealing with the Coast Guard, if you aren't in a harbor with its own jurisdiction, which would normally be handled by city police in boats.