Originally Posted by s/v Jedi
I can assure you that the view of the definition of "in distress" will be very different than what most think it is. A crew member must be near death. Broken down engine is not distress for a sail boat, etc.
Many "plan" to come in under a 3-day innocent passage or distress call, expecting to circumvent the need for a visa. That is when the handcuffs come out.
October 2001 when entry at Rochester was only two days a week, we entered on an off day after battling 20 footers for about sixteen hours. We called USCG and they watched us come into the harbour ready to lend assistance. They were very welcoming and were amazed that we were out in those seas in a 37' trawler
. We phoned immigration and explained that we had been headed to Oswego to check in properly but dangerous conditions forced us into Rochester. Immigration (Toledo) ordered us out of the country immediately ! We put the USCG commander on the phone
to explain that it was too dangerous ... immigration response ... Don't care, get out now or be arrested.
After four hours on the phone
talking to various immigration officials from Toledo to Washington
we ended up back with the same official who informed us that Border Patrol was on their way to arrest us if we were not gone in 15minutes. I politely informed the official that we would be gone in 15minutes and that 15minutes would be used to contact the local Rochester TV, radio
and newspaper to extend an invitation to come down and watch the Canadians killed in their harbour. After a very long pause he said we could stay until morning.
This was the only unpleasant experience I have had in hundreds of entries to US waters.