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Old 16-12-2013, 14:45   #241
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Re: Civil Rights Attorney Needed Marathon FL

At least this thread is providing some reasonable entertainment (popcorn anyone?) while we await an update from Thin Line (the OP) on the results of their meeting with FWC. In the interests of further obfuscating the issue, here are my latest $00.02....

While the USCG historically had and currently has broad powers for boarding and inspection of US vessels (documented or undocumented)
under maritime law, their inspection and boarding abilities have recently been broadly expanded under statute law since their transfer to the Dept of Homeland Security from the Dept of the Navy, and passage of the "Patriots Act"

I am not particularly fond of these changes, as in my experience the "boot" (newly rated) officers in charge of these boarding parties seem intent on establishing an immediate adversarial relationship upon first contact. I am sure this is a result of their training rather than any personality problems, as now most Coasties are trained as if the service was descended from the US Marshals Service rather than the US Lifesaving Service. It use to be that the CG was my always friend, providing weather services, communications, navigation aids and in the worst possible case, rescue and lifesaving coordination and support. While these services still exist (all be it with severely reduced budgets in light of their current law enforcement responsibilities) the one on one contact with CG members has changed. No longer friendly discussions, I find myself well aware of posture and attitude, both mine and their's. Again a result of their training which now more resembles that of a "peace officer" rather than a "lifesaver" .... I miss the old days.

As to the FWC officers... As stated earlier in this thread, all Florida Wildlife Commission enforcement officers are now part of the same group. No more separation between Game Wardens and Marine officers. All are sworn peace officers, and as such early on in their training they are taught that it is easier to stay on top than to get on top, so "big-dog" your contacts with civilians from the start. More experienced officers are more adept at doing this with out being overtly intimidating, but the rookies are lacking in experience and sometimes finesse.

No matter how you are approached onboard your vessel, with or without attidude a member of FWC is allowed to board your vessel to inspect your MSD at any time by Florida state law. They may board your vessel to inspect areas where fish may be stored at any time by Florida state law given "reasonable suspicion" (in Florida statutes the concept of reasonable suspicion reads as "knowledge to believe") or "probable cause" to expect you have been engaged in harvesting marine products (fish, shellfish, crustaceans, etc). Reasonable suspicion would be having a fishing pole visible from the FWC boat. Probable cause would be having a fishing line in the water. The law however does specifically exclude "living spaces" from inspection, so put those 20 lobsters under the vee berth. Make sure the FWC officer doesn't see them while he is inspecting your MSD or he would now have "probable cause" to expand his search.

Not sure about FWC, but in some states such as Georgia, wildlife officer's warrantless search abilities extend into private residences as well, again given "reasonable suspicion" Probable cause would enable a judge to issue a warrant, but if your boat is dripping water in the driveway, with a bunch of poles still onboard it would be "reasonable suspicion" that you have been fishing. In Georgia I would have the right as a sworn wildlife officer, to check your household freezer and/or refrigerator without your permission or assent.

Bottom line is, you are better off arguing your rights in front of the bar instead of at the gunwale. Hard on the pride, possibly unwarranted cost, and a general PITA, but I have never found it a good idea to argue with a man carrying a stick and a gun and a license to use them.
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Old 16-12-2013, 15:39   #242
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This is just one more reason that Florida is so unappealing. I've really started warming up to the idea of spending some time in Florida - pun intended - but historically it is a place Ive preferred to leave to port or starboard while offshore.

I have been pulled over once in the last ten years in NC, routine check. He was from the mountains and homesick, and we bs'd about home and he wrote me a warning ticket for the throwable inflatable life sling that did not meet his standards. The seat cushion one blew overboard during a squall off Hatteras. I told him I needed to make an anchorage by dark, and he let me clear the Elizabeth city bridge and head for the sound, then caught up with me and returned my license and gave me my warning ticket.

Not sure this would happen in FL. Every time I'm on floridas waterways, I just can't relax. I guess it's like driving on floridas roads. There is a price for "paradise". Ya, I know, it's partly me. But still....

Good to hear about the dialogue between boaters and law enforcement. OP - sorry, forgot your name (thinline?), you sound like you are doing a great job representing boaters. I'm involved in local politics (elected) and I believe in talk, as a starter. In the end, it is action that matters, so hopefully they will be accountable, and do some training. I'm sure it is tough for kid officers to use good judgement, but they need to leave the harmless tourists alone. No doubt there are some sleaze bags on sailboats, but pretty innocuous bunch overall.

The places I like to hang out just don't attract law enforcement. Who wants to have to deal with them while out getting away?

Maybe they're overstaffed on the water down there, I mean I bet they like it compared to the roads. Talking police and Sherriff here. They need to quit working on their tans and handle some crime in the neighborhoods. Stopping in transit to check toilet? Come onnnnn..

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Old 16-12-2013, 16:35   #243
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Re: Civil Rights Attorney Needed Marathon FL

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Not being able to have more than 18 lobsters on your boat keeps you up nights, does it?

Is it a maximum occupancy thing, or is it more to do with not having enough PFDs for the lobsters?
More along the lines of if I have 19 people on my boat I would like to have not only enough PFDs for them but also enough lobsters to feed them.
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Old 17-12-2013, 17:35   #244
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Re: Civil Rights Attorney Needed Marathon FL

"Freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it." Pericles -5th Century BP
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Old 17-12-2013, 17:50   #245
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Re: Civil Rights Attorney Needed Marathon FL

Having lived in Florida for 40 years, t's my understanding that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has more power than any other law enforcement agency in Florida. And if they believe you're not obeying the rules they can board your boat, even impound your boat. Had a friend once who had this done. Took a long time for him to get it back. We were at at Boot Key Harbor in '05 for a month on a mooring ball. Lovely place to live! Water taxi, dinghy dock and lot's of fun on shore. However, this isn't the way to stay there.....I'm thinking they must have had some drug activity or something that they're looking for there. There are lot's of other protected anchorages in the Keys. I'd move out of there fast if this keeps up!
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Old 17-12-2013, 18:53   #246
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Re: Civil Rights Attorney Needed Marathon FL

Four pages back the OP, ThinLine, spoke of the positive outcome in Marathon and how pleased he was with the response of the FWC to the complaint (post 192 & 194) and here, far later, people are still insisting that, "the sky is falling". I read above that one cruiser will not stop in Florida because he recieved a warning from an officer in North Carolina and he can't imagine how worse things would be in Florida! I hear it said that they are not sure about Florida, but in Georgia they can look for fish in your household freezer! Someone even mentioned that they knew of a friend who had a boat impounded and they did not get it back for a long time! 'sounds like the sky is falling in Florida. I've been boating in Florida sine 1957 and liveaboard cruising since 1972. In 1986 I did receive a citation in Volusia County for having an expired registration and in 2010 a FWC officer cautioned me to slow my dinghy within the St. Augustine City Marina basin. I've had no other interaction with authority in Florida while on the water in the past fifty-seven years. I've anchored frequently and for as long as three months in one location.

Things are pretty good here for me. Should everyone else stay away? What about Chicken Little,- is the sky falling?
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Old 17-12-2013, 18:59   #247
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Re: Civil Rights Attorney Needed Marathon FL

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Originally Posted by CaptForce View Post
Four pages back the OP, ThinLine, spoke of the positive outcome in Marathon and how pleased he was with the response of the FWC to the complaint (post 192 & 194) and here, far later, people are still insisting that, "the sky is falling". I read above that one cruiser will not stop in Florida because he recieved a warning from an officer in North Carolina and he can't imagine how worse things would be in Florida! I hear it said that they are not sure about Florida, but in Georgia they can look for fish in your household freezer! Someone even mentioned that they knew of a friend who had a boat impounded and they did not get it back for a long time! 'sounds like the sky is falling in Florida. I've been boating in Florida sine 1957 and liveaboard cruising since 1972. In 1986 I did receive a citation in Volusia County for having an expired registration and in 2010 a FWC officer cautioned me to slow my dinghy within the St. Augustine City Marina basin. I've had no other interaction with authority in Florida while on the water in the past fifty-seven years. I've anchored frequently and for as long as three months in one location.

Things are pretty good here for me. Should everyone else stay away? What about Chicken Little,- is the sky falling?
I hear ya Force, but I hear way more about getting pestered by law enforcement in FL than anywhere else, regardless of your experience. The sky is definitely not falling, but overall I just don't like it there as much as you do. For all the wonderful, nice people like you that live or cruise there, I find it an obnoxious place overall. But that's just me....
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Old 17-12-2013, 19:11   #248
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Re: Civil Rights Attorney Needed Marathon FL

Yes, please, all you folks keep just moving past Florida. It's a horrible place to be...
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Old 18-12-2013, 03:53   #249
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Re: Civil Rights Attorney Needed Marathon FL

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Originally Posted by Thin Line View Post
The city council meeting went better than anyone could have imagined. The city manager brought the issue to the attention of everyone before I even had a chance to speak, the mayor and the city council are extremely troubled by the actions of the FWC. I spoke in front of the largest attended meeting in the history of the city of Marathon, our presence was obvious and kudos to everyone that rallied together. The mayor and the city council will be attending our meeting with FWC here at city marina on Dec 18th at 6pm, along with the city manager.

The FWC Sgt that is representing the FWC at the meeting used to be an officer here in Marathon and still lives here. When he was here the other day we discussed several of the issues at hand and both sides of the story were presented to each other. While I agreed most of the tickets were valid, he also stated that it wasn't the right way to go about things. "just because officers can do something, doesn't mean they should" We discussed the fact that while many of the tickets written were law, several of them were ones nobody would ever write. For instance there is a law that states your dinghy, if not tied up beside your boat needs to have it's own anchor light. However who writes that ticket? A new officer trying to make an impression that's who .

The Sgt will be helping us understand what they are looking for, discussing the legality of their boardings and what they can and can't do, as well as acting as a point of contact if we have any further problems. On that note, we have not seen and FWC boat in the harbor in 4 to 5 days, maybe someone received a memo? Boot Key is worth stopping, it's a wonderful place full of families and a strong sense of community. My two children are both surrounded by other kids and right now the harbor has well over 15 kids. The problem appears to be on the mend and things seem to be on their way back to normal.

Thank you CF and all those that are supporting our cause. Fair winds..
Good luck today!
If we were down in the Keys, I'd be there to lend support.
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Old 18-12-2013, 06:43   #250
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Re: Civil Rights Attorney Needed Marathon FL

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I hear ya Force, but I hear way more about getting pestered by law enforcement in FL than anywhere else, regardless of your experience. The sky is definitely not falling, but overall I just don't like it there as much as you do. For all the wonderful, nice people like you that live or cruise there, I find it an obnoxious place overall. But that's just me....
Yep! And everything you read on the Internet is true!



Florida has 4 times more tidal coastline compared to NC, and a higher multiple amount of boats cruising. Might be why there are more LEOs.

In 10 years cruising around Florida, I've been boarded twice, both times by US Federal officers, never a Florida LEO.

YMMV
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Old 18-12-2013, 06:55   #251
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Re: Civil Rights Attorney Needed Marathon FL

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Having lived in Florida for 40 years,

SNIP

There are lot's of other protected anchorages in the Keys. I'd move out of there fast if this keeps up!
First time I went to the Keys was in 1954 when my Dad took me to Jewfish Creek to go fishing. My Dad moved there in 1968 while I was in college and my boat is there now. I am not aware of 'lot's (sic) of other protected anchorages in the Keys'. In fact Boot Key Harbor is generally recognized as one of the best harbors not only in the Keys but in Florida.

Maybe you could identify some of those other anchorages that are up to Boot Key Harbor's standards.
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Old 18-12-2013, 06:58   #252
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Re: Civil Rights Attorney Needed Marathon FL

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More along the lines of if I have 19 people on my boat I would like to have not only enough PFDs for them but also enough lobsters to feed them.
This happens often, does it?

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Old 18-12-2013, 07:07   #253
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Thumbs up Re: Civil Rights Attorney Needed Marathon FL

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Yep! And everything you read on the Internet is true!



Florida has 4 times more tidal coastline compared to NC, and a higher multiple amount of boats cruising. Might be why there are more LEOs.

In 10 years cruising around Florida, I've been boarded twice, both times by US Federal officers, never a Florida LEO.

YMMV
This is what everyone seems to forget. The reason Florida has more incidents of contact between boaters and LEOs is that there are simply more boats there!

The reason for that is because people want to be there. At the end of the day, there is just more of a draw to the (relatively) warm waters there then the frozen waters elsewhere.

I always laugh at the people who suggest they will "boycott" Florida or the Bahamas because of something they read on the Internet.

There was one obnoxious poster a few years ago who used to insist on calling it "Flora-Duh" and swore he was never going back.... Of course that was before he took up permanent residence there.

This is the reason why the actions like those of Thin Line are so honorable.... Actually taking steps to make things better, rather then just whining about how bad they are helps ALL of us.

Thanks again Thin Line, hope you have a good turn out tonight.
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Old 18-12-2013, 07:11   #254
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Re: Civil Rights Attorney Needed Marathon FL

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This happens often, does it?

I can understand why someone with an 18 foot boat would have problems understanding entertaining large groups. But Seawind 1000s are certified to carry 30 people daysailing in Australia. Here is the link if you would like to upgrade but it will not fit on a trailer like your boat

Seawind
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Old 18-12-2013, 07:33   #255
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Re: Civil Rights Attorney Needed Marathon FL

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This is the reason why the actions like those of Thin Line are so honorable.... Actually taking steps to make things better, rather then just whining about how bad they are helps ALL of us.

Thanks again Thin Line, hope you have a good turn out tonight.
Yes, Thin Line, thanks!

And to those from around the globe that are laughing at the US for this kind of stuff. The reality is that in several countries complaining about the actions of LEOs would simply get you in deeper trouble, whereas here in the US, Thin Line has been able to get those involved to sit and discuss the issues from all points of view. Not all liberties have been abolished in the US!
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