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Old 30-10-2009, 08:17   #31
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I was boarded by the USCG in downeast Maine a couple of years ago. I was very suprised, given the location (Mistake Harbor) is fairly remote. They did a safety inspection, which we passed with no deficiencies, and were supremely polite and pleasant, they invited my 11 yo son aboard their patrol boat and showed him around. They're welcome aboard anytime.

I was told later by another cruiser that the coasties out of Jonesport sometimes camp out at Mistake themselves. I can't say that I blame them, it's a lovely spot.
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Old 30-10-2009, 09:54   #32
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I was boarded by the USCG in downeast Maine a couple of years ago. I was very suprised, given the location (Mistake Harbor) is fairly remote. They did a safety inspection, which we passed with no deficiencies, and were supremely polite and pleasant, they invited my 11 yo son aboard their patrol boat and showed him around. They're welcome aboard anytime.
And that is how it is supposed to be. South Florida has a real bad reputation with non-US cruisers (harassment being the rule) and we hear about good experiences in most other places in the US, like Sahara's description. One can only hope the situation in Florida improves. We did find huge improvement with the officials at south Florida airports so who knows, maybe it will get better. In the mean time, we will skip south Florida and make our entry north of Ft Pierce or even north of Florida. Saves a lot of money too.

The red tape and paperwork is another issue. 96 hour advance notice of arrival, Customs, Immigration, Homeland Security and, with a gun aboard, the BATF (used to be ATF) and US Fish and Wildlife Service all need to be dealt with with a lot of preparation, time and effort before arriving. Customs is the only dept. that doesn't need preparation other than normal elsewhere. If the crew doesn't have the visa in the passport yet, that alone can take days, weeks or even months and hundreds of dollars, depending on which consulate is used. Much of it is about making money. A phone call for making an appointment for applying for the visa with a consulate gets you a voice response system that ask for your credit card info and charges you $25 before connecting you to a person (every time you call).

The good thing is that all the info required can be found on-line now. For years it wasn't available resulting in many incidents incl. imprisonment, just for not following (being unaware of) proper pre-arrival procedures.

All this makes a huge difference with the boarding experience because when all the paperwork and procedures are correctly done and presented, they might even be surprised you got that far ;-) When you are short of a form or paper, you present a reason for unpleasantness.

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 30-10-2009, 10:16   #33
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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.
I wasn't aware the US Marshall service had an undercover division. These guys sound more like DEA types. Did you see ID?
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Old 30-10-2009, 10:21   #34
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We were visited at the dock in France and Spain, but we handle it like MarkJ and treat them nice. One offical in northern France, who had been stationed in the Med took a long time marking our pilot books with "secret" anchorages we should visit. And they turned out to be great choices.

We were stopped in by a Morocco navy boat about 8 miles off the coast of Morocco. A little scary at first, since it was a grey boat, no flag and no one was wearing a uniform. The boarding party of 5 spoke no english and our French was not very good. But one of them had a mobile phone and they called the captain of their big boat and he apoligized for the boarding, said they would finish as fast as possible but needed to search the boat. It took aboout 45 minutes and they were very friendly. But they would not let me take their picture.
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Old 30-10-2009, 10:51   #35
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Only once and it was this summer, by a French Patrol 12 miles or so off French channel coast.

Very polite. Came out of no where at 30 plus knots, cruised half mile off as they gathered data, then a RIB was deployed and zoomed over.

Asked for permission to board in French then Franglais, three came one stayed driving rib. All armed. One chap quizzed Sue in cockpit whilst other two quizzed me down below and each time asking if it was OK, dived under bunks and searched lockers.

Lots of Q's but equally happy to help me improve my French. Tokk in total maybe 90 minutes and seems it was sparked due to past actions of a UK flagged boat with same name...............

Lotsa thanks and they were away over the horizon. Apart from time lost, actually enjoyed the experience. Picture of same sized partol boat on our blog.

Cheers
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Old 30-10-2009, 12:29   #36
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And that is how it is supposed to be. South Florida has a real bad reputation with non-US cruisers (harassment being the rule) and we hear about good experiences in most other places in the US, like Sahara's description. One can only hope the situation in Florida improves. We did find huge improvement with the officials at south Florida airports so who knows, maybe it will get better. In the mean time, we will skip south Florida and make our entry north of Ft Pierce or even north of Florida. Saves a lot of money too.
FWIW, In our conversation it came up that the officer in charge of the boarding party had previously been stationed in south Florida. He likened that duty to being in a war zone for coasties. He loved being in Maine because it was so much more relaxed - no real worries about drug interdiction and bad guys with guns, just safety inspections and rescue work. I probably got the same guy others complain about, just in a much better situation.
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Old 30-10-2009, 13:37   #37
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I wasn't aware the US Marshall service had an undercover division. These guys sound more like DEA types. Did you see ID?
These Marshals weren’t "under cover", they clearly identified themselves (when pressed) and left me a business card.
They were in “plain clothes”, though more consistent with a biker gang, than the general (or marina) population.

Undercover Marshals ➥ http://www.usmarshals.gov/foia/Direc...tions/8.12.pdf
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Old 30-10-2009, 16:15   #38
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Officials boarding your boat are part of international cruising and as many have said…it can go from the sublime to the ridiculous. You just have to smile and roll with the punches if you meet an overly aggressive one.

A common technique in security training is to purposely rattle the subject.

You suspect they are hiding something if you don’t get some kind of a body language angry reaction and ....when they do show signs of exasperation, it is then they are taught to “ask the key question”

Anyone who has checked in for an El Al flight will know this.

The most memorable boarding’s have happened to me in Japan.

Once in Nagasaki, we had a lot of wine and champagne on board for an extended cruise via Japan to Alaska….To much to fit into a bondable locker of this new 66 ft Cheoy Lee trawler.

So Japanese Customs hummed and hawed for a while, as I tried to explain (putting it on a bit thick) that it was the American Owner’s honeymoon and their dream was to go thru the inland sea during Cherry Blossom season, toasting the beauty.

“Yes…but why so much?”

Finally in a tired fit of inspiration I sheepishly said to them…..They like to take baths in it”

Well that gave off some very knowledgeable nods a couple of laughs and jokes in their language as they bid us good-day, without touching the wine.


It is all part of the experience, just learn to live with it
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Old 20-11-2009, 19:56   #39
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Pardon my ignorance but can the USCG board vesels ouside the USA territorial waters? i.e. Close to Luperon, DR as one member recalls. Can they board a Canadian flag boat say, in international waters?, or they only board boats with USA flags.
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Old 20-11-2009, 21:17   #40
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Pardon my ignorance but can the USCG board vessels outside the USA territorial waters?
The USCG operates in conjunction and cooperation with many other countries. They can and will stop any vessel they like no matter what flag they fly. Since they are a US military vessel they can fire should they choose to do so. They are not limited to US waters or only US vessels any more than the US Navy. While they tend to operate in US coastal areas they also operate with Canadian, Mexican, Caribbean, and even South American partners especially when concerning drug trafficking.

The key is they are military not civilian police.
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Old 20-11-2009, 21:24   #41
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In a word Yes

The USCG can and wil board anyone......since they are working in cooperation with local governments.



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Pardon my ignorance but can the USCG board vesels ouside the USA territorial waters? i.e. Close to Luperon, DR as one member recalls. Can they board a Canadian flag boat say, in international waters?, or they only board boats with USA flags.
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Old 20-11-2009, 22:20   #42
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Yes, we've been boarded by US coastguard in Palymyra (of all places), and American Samoa. We were also stopped off the coast of Africa, which scared me a bit, but turned out to be just fine.

I think a number of people have already mentioned here to be friendly, cooperative, and you'll be fine. When we were in Palmyra, our auto pilot leaked hydrolic fluid and that was the only thing we didn't have on board. The US coast guard gave us a couple of gallons to see us through to Samoa and eventually NZ!

You'll be right.
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Old 21-11-2009, 06:25   #43
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These Marshals weren’t "under cover", they clearly identified themselves (when pressed) and left me a business card.
They were in “plain clothes”, though more consistent with a biker gang, than the general (or marina) population.

Undercover Marshals ➥ http://www.usmarshals.gov/foia/Direc...tions/8.12.pdf
The US Marshal's Service came under some scrutiny in the mid-late 1990's for their practice of hiring thugs and biker-lookalikes and their unprofessional look, demeanor, and behavior, and were subsequently ordered by Congress to clean up their act or else (lose funding), which they should have done by now. When was your experience exactly?
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Old 21-11-2009, 07:02   #44
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As we were approaching the bar to our bay, (Oregon Coast) I called for a bar report as we had not heard one in over an hour. The Coast Guard gave us the report. In a few moments they called us back requesting information on our point of departure,final destination, time in transit, persons aboard, etc. After giving this information, they stated that it appeared that we had never been boarded or inspected and asked if this were true. I told them that I had no knowledge of that as I had just purchased the boat and we were delivering it to our slip as the final destination. They thanked me for the information and stated that there would be a boarding party awaiting us at our slip. When we arrived at our slip, I handed the Coast Guard the lines and and asked if they would mind helping tie the boat as it had been a long passage. They were quite cheerful and extremely polite through the entire safety inspection which took less than fifteen minutes. They seemed quite taken with the kids We had only one minor ding which was corrected on the spot (unsecured holding tank valve) and they went on their way. They are always welcome to board us as they were quite nice, quick and helpful. Since then, I have requested dockside safety inspections just to get that part done with (knowing that they may still board us at will if they choose).
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Old 21-11-2009, 07:16   #45
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The USCG operates in conjunction and cooperation with many other countries. They can and will stop any vessel they like no matter what flag they fly. Since they are a US military vessel they can fire should they choose to do so. They are not limited to US waters or only US vessels any more than the US Navy. While they tend to operate in US coastal areas they also operate with Canadian, Mexican, Caribbean, and even South American partners especially when concerning drug trafficking.

The key is they are military not civilian police.
Well, at the risk of turning this into something political, I have to wonder what gives the USCG or the US Navy the right to board other vessels anytime anywhere? There are no "local partners" in the middle of the North Atlantic. Is there some law that says the USCG can just stop and board any vessel anytime it feels like it? Or is it that they do it because they can. I think it's the latter.

What would happen if they decided to board say a Russian vessel while a Russian warship just happened to be in the neighbourhood? I suspect the boarding would not happen.

You can also take away a lot of peoples' rights under the guise of "drug trafficking" or some other law enforcement mumbo-jumbo.

Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. People might think you are a bully.

Forgive me for being a skeptic, but I've seen this type of thing from the inside of law enforcement and it is not something countries that promote "freedom" and "rights" should be engaging in. IMHO.

If you folks think this behaviour is fine and dandy that's great, I happen to think that stopping, boarding and searching boats belonging to people who have done nothing to warrant such an invasive action is reprehensible and should not be condoned. But I guess I err in thinking we truly live in a "free" society.
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