The "residue" test procedure involves using cotton balls to wipe down bulkheads, inside drawers and lockers, and the overhead. Then the cotton balls are processed through a GCT machine which will analyze the sample and determine if any "controlled substances" are present. Supposedly the test can detect such things going back as much a one year. They don't really need to find any actual "illegal substances" anymore since they can posit that you had them on the boat but threw them overboard
prior to the boarding.
- - Remember this is only applicable to US flagged vessels which the USCG has total legal
rights to board anywhere in the world.
- - This procedure was developed in response to a PR fiasco the CG got into by literally tearing boats apart - at sea - including drilling holes in soles, cabinets and occasionally the hull
. They did this when the "zero tolerance" program was first instituted a decade or so ago. BoatUS got into the middle of it as they were having to fork over $10K to $30K for repairs
to boats they insured and the max US government
liability was US$2K. It didn't take long after the program was started for the USCG to move from "your buddy" to your "arch-enemy" because of these (insert a bad word here) searches and damage. PR-wise they have never fully recovered from that fiasco.
- - Problems with "hitch-hikers" are they are young and stupid and carry/buy what is considered by the USA Feds "illegal substances." Any removal
of the substances from its plastic bags and contact with any interior
surface of the boat will leave a residue that can be detected up to a year after the hitch-hikers have left the boat.
- - It is really a touchy situation when you are bringing "clients" onboard who are younger or the same age than "Willy Nelson." A total wipe down with ammonia and soap water
solution will remove the residue, but that is a very labor intensive procedure.