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Old 18-04-2010, 16:56   #1
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USCG Boarding - Good Experience

Surprisingly, last Wednesday during really sloppy conditions (25-30kt easterly winds, seas 4-6ft) I was boarded by the USCG just west of south Key West channel entrance. We were motoring east through the slop on our way to Boca Chica. A cutter was southbound in the channel, saw us and then turned our way and launched a RIB.

The coast guard guys were very professional and finished with me in less than 30 minutes. They found no issues, so I was happy of course. This was the absolute 1st time I've ever been boarded, and the experience was a good one. They even took my ribbing about being shallow-water sailors (I'm ex-Navy of course) and listened to some of my sea stories while pretending to be interested.

They checked each bilge, engine room, documentation, placards, flares, whistle, etc, as they should. When I told them I was surprised they came out in these conditions, they said their CO actually made them do this on rough days for "training" that will prepare them for the days when they must do their jobs in lousy weather. Makes sense to me.

My hat's off to them - young guys who care about the job they do. Next time you have an encounter that doesn't completely go your way, just remember that these guys work for our collective safety - and by and large do their jobs well. They shared a few horror stories about situations they've encountered that had peoples' lives at risk. And the bizzarre - like the guy who last week stole a jet ski in KW, claimed the CIA was after him and was last seen heading south on that jet ski some 10 miles south of KW. They deal with all kinds...

Anyway - my thanks to the USCG crew that came aboard, did their job with professionalism and left me with good thoughts about what they do.

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Old 18-04-2010, 19:30   #2
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Good post!

If you know what unit they are in, you might send a copy of this to their base commander. These guys save our asses repeatedly for little compensation, put their lives at risk and are on call 24/7 - things most of the rest of us never even think of doing.
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Old 18-04-2010, 19:48   #3
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Just prior to 9/11, we were in Charlette Amalie, St. Thomas. We went across the harbor to go pick up a boat part and the Cutter INVINCIBLE was there. We decided to ask permission to come board for an ispection, and were welcomed aboard. We had met a bunch of the guys the night before at happy hour, and they remembered us. After a full tour, we sat and just chatted. The Coast Guard, over the years, have been given numerous jobs, besides Safety of Lives at Sea. They said if ever boarded, just co-operate, and if you do have any weapons, inform them. The first ten minutes sets the tone for the inspection.
I have always respected the Coast Guard, but after some socializing, you realize that they really do believe in what there mission is, and very proudly perform their duties.
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Old 18-04-2010, 19:58   #4
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Interestingly enough, today I had a similar experience, only with the Homeland Security Border Patrol part. We were bringing our boat from Victoria BC to Port Townsend. They caught up with us a few miles into US waters on one of their RIB speed boats.

Again, very professional, thorough, polite and respectful. I've got no problems with these folks and while I understand that occasionally some people might have problems (and everybody, some times, has a bad day), I was both impressed with their work and thankful for their service.

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Old 18-04-2010, 23:57   #5
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Originally Posted by markpj23 View Post
I was boarded by the USCG just west of south Key West
I would have done a full Anti-Piracy Maneuver and filled their skiff with smoke flares and jabbed at their belly buttons with the bread knife lashed to the boat hook.
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Old 19-04-2010, 10:48   #6
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I'm ex-Coastie, have been boarded a number of times and I have only ever had one bad experience that was just annoying because of a really disrespectful attitude yet a commercial fisheman I know had a horrendus experience that led to a broken back, both of these during the height of our homeland security fervor when I did sense a difference in attitude, intentional or not, when being boarded. The homeland security mission has added an element that I am glad I did not have to cope with and while neccessary I imagine it to be not a favorite element of contemporary Coastie service.

The mission has been adjusted, as it was in response to World War II and Viet Nam since I was in and even as a cook (who volunteered helm time and to participate in boarding Japanese, Russian, Korean Longliners who were known to be fishing illeagaly in Alaskan waters and had radio watch and SAR duties on the Great lakes) my pride in the organization had just a bit more to do with our longstanding core mission in search and rescue and emergeny response than anything else.

In trying to keep up with the Coast Guard, I see one of the evolving missions since the 70's (I think... correct me if I'm wrong) has become another point of pride and that is the role as environmental guardians... I recently saw a couple of Coastie publications generated by the environmental arm of the organization and was really impressed with the scope of their expertise in prevention and emergency response in this area...congratulations on that!

I also understand...and please help me out on this, that the new Commander of the Coast Guard has stated publicly (I read a small article in the L.A. Times) that he is looking forward to re-emphasizing the Coast Guards traditional role as emergency responders and I have been hearing others relate a different tone and attitude when boarded now.

It remains a great organization with a proud tradition and I have always been proud of my own service.
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Old 19-04-2010, 11:12   #7
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As a former U.S. Navy helo pilot, I found my many interactions with the U.S. Coast Guard to be of the highest professional quality and highest mission readiness of any navies of the sixteen countries with which I had experience. I will not comment on my ranking of the U.S. Navy in these categories.
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Old 27-04-2010, 07:15   #8
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For some reason I get boarded quite frequently, I would say I was being profiled , but that cannot be the case since I'm always on a different boat , different place , different crew. Juts 4 days ago I was boarded by the CBP off Key West , and I have to say the same as I say of the USCG : they are a very efficient , professional and courteous lot and I could never figure out why some people object and complain about their work.

As to complaints that the CG should assist people in distress and not just pass it on to Sea Tow or something ...well, if you sailed in South Florida and saw the kind of things that go on on these waterways and the way some people go to sea you too wouldn't want tax payers money bailing out some of these guys.
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Old 27-04-2010, 08:16   #9
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. . . As to complaints that the CG should assist people in distress and not just pass it on to Sea Tow or something ...well, if you sailed in South Florida and saw the kind of things that go on on these waterways and the way some people go to sea you too wouldn't want tax payers money bailing out some of these guys.
I would heartily agree with that. I have seen numerous incredibly "stupid" things done on the waters by some people. One big power yacht was running up the channel from Biscayne Bay to downtown Miami - a vary narrow channel - and he was at his "maximum size wake" speed rolling sailboats and others to their gunwales. Lots of cursing and arm shaking at this incredibly rude boat. As he made the turn at marker 51 to run east to Miami Beach he turned short and ran his mega-sport fisherman solidly up onto the "Flats."
- - Asking the USCG or other tax-payer supported entity to drag his boat off the flats would have added insult to injury. Instead two commercial tugs worked for an hour to get him off the flats. Meanwhile every smaller boat passing him while he was up on the Flats was waving and laughing and quite cheerful.
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Old 27-04-2010, 08:19   #10
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Instead two commercial tugs worked for an hour to get him off the flats. Meanwhile every smaller boat passing him while he was up on the Flats was waving and laughing and quite cheerful.
Awww . . . I just love a happy ending!

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