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Old 29-10-2009, 04:29   #16
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I’ve been boarded by the U.S. Marshal’s Service, whilst docked in Ft. Lauderdale. A decidedly unpleasant experience! The (2) Marshals dressed and acted like very aggressive “thugs” (a little too much “assertiveness” training?); but they're in a dangerous business, often dealing with dangerous people.

We've been boarded by the Bahamian Defence Force, whilst at anchor in Nassau. The armed officers (2 aboard “Southbound” and 2 remained in patrol boat) were very politely formal.

I’ve been hailed by the U.S. Coastguard (aircraft & ship), on virtually every night crossing Bahamas to Florida. Once we identified “Southbound” (Canadian vessel), they knew everything about us - who we were, and where we’d been*. When the captain was asleep, they were happy to speak to the mate. Always friendly & polite, and closing with an offer of assistance, if required.

* When anchored at Staniel Cay, we’d see the Blackhawk helicopter patrols (combined Bahamian Defence Force & USDEA) sweep over the anchorage on a weekly basis.
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Old 29-10-2009, 11:36   #17
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David,

Nobody was as nice, and smiling as me. It's a good way to start things, but there are still tiny minds in very insecure people toting a gun, and badge.

I had a long talk with the Commanding Officer, and he knew exactly who my complaint was against before I told him any one in particular. What's that tell you?

Now I have to admit the other times were the nicest, and most polite people. I have to throw in COMPLETELY PROFESSIONAL too........i2f
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Old 29-10-2009, 12:29   #18
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David,

Nobody was as nice, and smiling as me. It's a good way to start things, but there are still tiny minds in very insecure people toting a gun, and badge.

I had a long talk with the Commanding Officer, and he knew exactly who my complaint was against before I told him any one in particular. What's that tell you?

Now I have to admit the other times were the nicest, and most polite people. I have to throw in COMPLETELY PROFESSIONAL too........i2f
My point is that it is always best to start out on a friendly, cooperative basis, even if the boarding party turns out to be a bunch of jerks. Resisting or being a smart ass will never be to ones benefit. It pleases many of their egos to no end when you "respect their authority" although deep down you probably hate having to play their little ego gratification game. The bottom line is that playing their game they way they want you to play it can make it easier for the person being boarded. They also go away feeling more important because you respected their authority. Its usually a win-win situation if one adopts the right attitude from the beginning.

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Old 29-10-2009, 12:43   #19
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Been boarded twice by USGC in St, Simons Sound. The USGC RIB actually hit the boat's overhanging arch holding the dingy. Worn the front tab off the dingy. No apology, but no other problems with the boarders. Checked the boat's papers, the crew IDs, and an overall inside inspection for equipment. The second time, we showed the first inspection form, so they left us alone.
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Old 29-10-2009, 13:00   #20
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I am not playing along. I like the fact they are boarding boats to catch bad people. If that means boarding me numerous times then that's okay.

They bullied me, and treated me as a child. Threatening to cut my boat into to pieces if I don't confess. They were simply assholes with the power of a gun, and a badge.

Once again I am in agreement with you, but like the English language there are exceptions to the rule...........i2f
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Old 29-10-2009, 13:52   #21
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Gord, Interesting that you were boarded by the US Marshal's service. Did they have a search warrant? Only the Coast Guard and US customs service can board you without a warrant. In some cases state marine patrol officers can board for purposes of checking compliance with pollution control regulations. Tied to a dock you don't even have to have safety equipment on board. US Marshal's service doesn't have any business on board a boat without a search warrant.
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Old 29-10-2009, 14:54   #22
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Gord, Interesting that you were boarded by the US Marshal's service. Did they have a search warrant? Only the Coast Guard and US customs service can board you without a warrant. In some cases state marine patrol officers can board for purposes of checking compliance with pollution control regulations. Tied to a dock you don't even have to have safety equipment on board. US Marshal's service doesn't have any business on board a boat without a search warrant.
The Marshals were hunting a fugitive, and didn’t understand the etiquette/law about boarding a boat. They didn’t take kindly to my explanation, and demand that they return to the dock; but with me close behind they did disembark. We then had a brief conversation, wherein I identified myself, and sh
owed them my car. Satisfied I wasn’t the party they were seeking they left.
As I said, a very unsettling experience to be accosted, aboard my boat, by these two very unsavoury (looked like biker punks) and AGGRESSIVE strangers.
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Old 29-10-2009, 16:47   #23
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Board 3x by Mexican Navy folks and once by the Colombians near St Andres. Never much of difficulty and after offering them cookies and sodas (the Mexican Navy turned down beers) and some brief conversations in my poor Spanish everyone was fine and appeared happy. I found them all very young, very nervous, and just fine---except for their management of their firearms which they unintentionally pointed at me and others--a couple times I move the barrels aside when they were talking to me. Generally they were laughing when they left. My Spanish is that bad.

Once, off Huatulco, they came with drug dog-- a beautiful and shy golden retriever that looked more like she belonged in the back of a soccer mom's LandRover rather than a gunboat full of Mexican kids with automatic weapons. The dog did not want to get out of the gunboat to inspect my boat, despite the entreaties of the Navy guys. So they just skipped that part of the inspection and we took pictures of each other as they parted.

Never saw anyone from the USCG when I came back into the country after being gone for 2 years and no one even inspected my boat on my return.
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Old 29-10-2009, 16:52   #24
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We had pulled up anchor in Chacala just before sunrise on our way to Puerto Vallarta. About an hour later and about 5 miles offshore, a panga approached with 6 Mexican seamen aboard. There was about a 4-foot swell running and we were under sail. The oldest of the 6 men, who appeared to be an officer of some sort, told us he wanted to do an inspection. "Aqui?", I said, "Ahora?" They indicated that, yes, here and now was what they wanted. The panga took several runs at coming along side but even the determined officer realized that it wasn't safe. From the panga he asked us questions as to how many were on board, where we were heading, where we were coming from, etc and sent us on our way. We thought that was the end of it.

We got a slip at Marina Vallarta and had friends visit from the States. One day we decided to take a day sail to Los Arcos, a popular diving spot. Unbeknown to us was that was the precise time the Mexican Navy decided to complete the inspection. Apparently, they got kind of excited when they found out we were gone and dispatched a frigate to find us. Find us they did, surrounded by boats filled with tourists. A RIB was dropped in the water and 6 Mexican Navy seamen, approached and boarded Rutea. All were carrying side arms and two had automatic weapons. One with the automatic weapon was positioned on our bow and the other on our stern. The tourists were all gawking. Two of the seamen went below and started searching while the two others remained in the RIB. Eventually, another RIB was dispatched, this time it included a dog. Fortunately, Ruthie was being very patient while I was less than pleased. The dog was shedding badly so I had to follow it around with a dust buster. Ruthie offered cold drinks and cookies.

They were very polite in spite of my aloof coolness. They gave us documents that would explain to any other potential inspectors that we had all ready been inspected. Their boots left big black marks on the deck.

I've also been boarded by the US Coast Guard 3 different times, 2 of those times also make good stories for another time.

Fair winds and calm seas.
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Old 29-10-2009, 18:25   #25
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Boarded by the USCG (in 1997) and cited for lacking a number of things, most of which (as a 28' boat) we are not required to have (but unfortunately we did not have a copy of the requirements on the boat and so could not contest). Other than the complete disbelief in the (then-common) practice of calling in to clear when arriving in Florida from overseas, my favorite was the requirement (see above) to have a copy of the "inland rules of the road".

us (dumbfounded - never heard of such a thing) "um, where do you get that?"
USCG: "you ask the Coast Guard."
us (lightbulb): "Can we have a copy, please?"
USCG: "We don't have one!"

USCG has a tough job, for sure, but stories like this one don't make them easier to respect. I think it is a bit of a disservice to link pleasure sailors and commercial vessels and terrorists into one big lump. (and then cut funding . . . )

We were tailed crossing the Caribbean by a plane and hailed on the radio. We were boarded in the DR (non-US) but I don't remember much other than them having a hard time understanding that we do not carry any soft drinks on board.

Others have it right. Be polite and friendly and helpful - they'll go away soon. If you ever want them at night, you'll be happy. (but don't ask for anchorage information - they can't share it)
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Old 29-10-2009, 21:06   #26
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Boarding party Colombian coastguard

ciao!
Nick.
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Old 29-10-2009, 23:13   #27
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Boarding party Colombian coastguard

ciao!
Nick.

Looks like just the sort of boat that people with guns may shoot up.

Its would be an interesting response!
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Old 30-10-2009, 06:40   #28
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Only the Coast Guard and US customs service can board you without a warrant.
Small correction... Only the Coast Guard and US customs service can LEGALLY board you without a warrant. When men with guns and badges show up it is best to let them do what they want and argue about the legalities later!

In fact, that also applies to men with guns and NO badges, unless you are ready and willing to engage in a full-scale shootout!
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Old 30-10-2009, 07:50   #29
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Small correction... Only the Coast Guard and US customs service can LEGALLY board you without a warrant. When men with guns and badges show up it is best to let them do what they want and argue about the legalities later!

In fact, that also applies to men with guns and NO badges, unless you are ready and willing to engage in a full-scale shootout!
While I agree with that, I find it upsetting too. The apparent lack of discipline and social skills of a significant number of US officials that engage in contact with cruisers is certainly not normal and accepted elsewhere.

It almost sounds like the government hired street gangs. While that makes sense for combat operations in war, they should not put them in a law enforcement role in a civilian environment. They are put in jail in most countries.

Our experience with officers during boardings in Central America can be summed up as very polite, some a bit shy and old fashioned gentleman-officers like in old movies (even when very young!). The photo attached to this post is the Venezuelan party that boarded us in Islas Monjes. Those are soda waters on the table!

cheers,
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Old 30-10-2009, 07:58   #30
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Boarded by French customs for doing 6 knots in a 5 knot zone, even though we were still outside the bay of Villefranche on the south coast, and teh 5 knot zone was still ahead of us on chart and GPS. A two hour officious delay - the boat was French registered but they went through all our papers etc, and did a thorough search. An opportunistic justification of their existence is the only way it felt. But I guess they have a job to do. . .
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