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Old 09-05-2008, 13:10   #1
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Documentation Papers

It is my understanding that documentation papers need to be kept on board the boat at all times. Does this mean that the origianl needs to be aboard and if so can it be laminated to prevent damage?
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Old 09-05-2008, 14:25   #2
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Charlie, I would leave laminated color copies (two-sided where relevant) of everything on the boat. Notarized as bona-fide copies if I were really paranoid about that. But the original papers are safer in your "boat bag" that travels home with you, so they can't be pilfered from the boat while it is unattended. In the worst case if you forget them...you've got the copies on board, and unless a water cop is REALLY pissed at you, they should be able to understand that and accept it.
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Old 09-05-2008, 14:27   #3
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I don't often disagree with Hellosailor, but I think you are required to keep your documentation certificate with you on board.
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Old 09-05-2008, 14:36   #4
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Sean, we don't disagree on what the law requires here. Let me be clearer:

I'm saying the law is impractical and dangerous, and a reasonable accomodation to it can be made which serves the purpose adequately, without leaving vital documents unattended and unprotected.

Requiring a ship's papers to be onboard at all times makes sense for commercial vessels that are always manned and crewed--which is what documentation was originally concerned with. Having them onboard while traveling, makes sense.

But keeping them onboard while in home waters, on an unattended pleasure craft? Any "cop" capable of sneaking up on a doughnut knows that you just DON'T leave papers unattended in a motor vehicle. Shouldn't be an issue--regardless of what the law may call for.
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Old 09-05-2008, 15:19   #5
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I don't often agree with Hellosailor (just kiddin yes I do) But locally when out for a day sail or such originals seem to be over kill.
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Old 09-05-2008, 15:42   #6
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My boat is documented, and I thought about this situation. I decided to make one color copy for the boat, along with a copy of the paperwork from the company that did the documentation, and file other copies with the originals at home. It wouldn't be that hard for the USCG to check me out if they wanted to...if I was a terrorist I'd bet they would know who I was before they boarded.
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Old 09-05-2008, 16:31   #7
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Is there something they can find out about me that they can only get from the original and not a good copy?
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Old 09-05-2008, 16:46   #8
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Is there something they can find out about me that they can only get from the original and not a good copy?
Actually, everything. A “copy” may very well be a forgery.
Would you want a copy (or an original) of a US $100 note?
They might both make the same promise to pay …
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Old 09-05-2008, 16:50   #9
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I don't know... I guess I follow little laws like that to a "t" because I don't want to pay any fines. It's kind of like going out for a drive without your car registration, or with a nice copy of it.

Anything you can do to speed the officers along (or coasties) and not make waves with them helps you avoid fines or delays.

I keep the originals with me in a nice, sealed plastic thing. Plus... you have to renew it anyway each year, so...
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Old 09-05-2008, 17:25   #10
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I don't know... I guess I follow little laws like that to a "t" because I don't want to pay any fines. It's kind of like going out for a drive without your car registration, or with a nice copy of it.

Anything you can do to speed the officers along (or coasties) and not make waves with them helps you avoid fines or delays.

I keep the originals with me in a nice, sealed plastic thing. Plus... you have to renew it anyway each year, so...
I agree anything to help them on their way, but it seems kind of dangerous to me b/c you are leaving what is essentially a pink slip on the boat. I wouldn't do that with my car. I think the idea of keeping it in a boat bag along with a color copy that stays on the boat is a good idea.
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Old 09-05-2008, 18:02   #11
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I agree anything to help them on their way, but it seems kind of dangerous to me b/c you are leaving what is essentially a pink slip on the boat. I wouldn't do that with my car. I think the idea of keeping it in a boat bag along with a color copy that stays on the boat is a good idea.
Ahhhh... no. Actually you are not leaving the title on the boat. If the vessel is documented (which this conversation is about), the "title" is on file at the National Vessel Documentation Center.

The Certificate of Documentation is analogous to the registration paper you have to keep in your car. Without your express consent (as in a completed US Coast Guard Bill of Sale complete with signatures and notary stamps), the ownership of the vessel cannot be transferred.

Does that help any?
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Old 09-05-2008, 18:10   #12
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Sean is correct.

I keep my original documentation certificate on the boat, protected in a plastic sleeve, and take a color, two-sided copy in a plastic sleeve with me when I clear in. I can't imagine why someone would steal a documentation certificate off your boat. What would they do with it?

If I kept it at home, the greatest danger is that I would forget it and leave it there, and the customs agent would demand to see it.

If it's lost, it's easy to get a replacement by applying online.
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Old 09-05-2008, 18:49   #13
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Federal law requires vessel documentation to be on board and available. About 20 years ago, I was was sipping a sun downer anchored off Shell Island near Panama City FL when a coasty pulled alongside for an inspection. I explained that I left my documentation at home but assured him all was in order. He wasn't very simpathetic. The judge wasn't very simpathetic either. Although he finally let me off with a warning. I'll never take my documentation off the boat again.
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Old 09-05-2008, 19:27   #14
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Gord, there's a difference between the documentation papers and a hundred dollar bill. When the hundred dollar bill is being shown, it is usually being used immediately as currency with no way to confirm what it is. But if someone asks to see your papers, there is no reason to see the originals. In fact, one could argue that with the quality of counterfeits, it is grossly negligent to examine the papers on the boat--unless they also confirm the information on them directly with the USCG/NF database.

The same way that a street cop may ask to see my license and registration--but ALWAYS calls it in to verify the information.

If someone feels that they must follow the letter of the law, the best thing is to carry the papers in your boat bag. I wouldn't feel any need to do that in home waters, jward's experience to the contrary aside. Dunno why the Coasties were so formal with him, maybe he had a Gung Ho with a bug up his butt looking to write summonses. Sadly, every uniform service including the USCG has its share of those.
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Old 09-05-2008, 19:29   #15
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Ok I'll keep the original and a copy on the boat. I just saw the form on the back of the document and thought that a signature would release the title but it says,"the certificate on the face of this document is not conclusive evidence of title in any proceeding where ownership is in issue. Complete records are on file at the NVDC. The sale or transfer section below is provided for convenenice only."
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Between us there was, as I have already said somewhere, the bond of the sea. Besides holding our hearts together through long periods of separation, it had the effect of making us tolerant of each other's yarns -- and even convictions. Heart of Darkness
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