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Old 30-07-2012, 22:42   #1
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We Are Being Terrorized

We need some serious advice and council.

We are live a-boards anchored out on our 42' long range trawler in Gulfport, Fl.

We stay here because the city provides parking and a dinghy dock.
Unfortunately what they don't provide is marine protection. (but they do have a patrol that comes out once a month, they claim limited funds)

Being a "live a-board" here in Gulfport, we are treated like third class citizens.

Our dinghies are register as well as our vessel.
We keep at clean appearance, we move our boat at least once or twice a month, the bottom is cleaned every month, and we use the marina for pump-out.

The problem is as follows:

Two months back , we were harassed by a boat full of teens that had been drinking.
The operator was at the controls of a new 20' Jetski boat.
They thought it would be fun to circle us at high speed within 35-45' of our boat, creating large enough wakes to upset our 17.5 ton vessel and break a few things inside.
We have two service animals that work with children, one was injured during this episode.

I brought our dogs to the dinghy dock 30 min. to use the "bathroom" after the disruption, only to find the boat that terrorized us was there, full of beers cans and empty beer boxes.

There were not enough life jackets on board, nor was there a Florida registration sticker on the boat. (I was told later but the police that it was a new boat and they didn't get the sticker in time to take it out for a spin)

However, the local police, told me that it was my word against the kids that I accused and even though one of the passengers seemed sorry for their actions, the police let them go knowing the boat was illegally on the water.
It even left the dock without nav. lights, and it was 11pm.

The other night, a man in his mid 30's, on a 23' center console fishing boat, was out with friends on a calm night, and drifted within 50' of us at 1am.
There were 3 people on board and the music was deafening.
To get their attention, I hit them with a spot light and asked to either move away or lower the volume.
They called us names, cursed, etc . .
But, he did start the motor and very slowly, moved away.

20 minutes later, he drifted back to us and was within 35' of us and the music louder.
Again, I hit them with the spot light, asked them to please move again, but there was resistance this time, with threats, so I kept the light on them till they moved.

I sat and watched, as they moved away.
I watched as the owner brought the boat to the public dock, unloaded his two passengers, turn the boat around, and came straight at us, full throttle, bow straight up.
He circle us several times at an aggressive speed, and as close as he could get.

Knowing not to call the Gulfport police, I called the USCG, but was told they couldn't help and to try the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission.
All the while, we are being dangerously circled.

The aggressive boat turned and left, but only to circle around other boats and then return to us again.

During the second "attack", I had the FWC on the phone pleading for help, only to be informed that resources are low and no one is available to help. However, they would call the Gulfport police on our behalf for help.

By this time, the threading boat left and disappeared into the darkness ( during this time, he had turned off all his nav. lights)

5 min. later, I heard the sounds of powerful motors coming towards us, in the distance.
Sure enough, it was him coming back for a third attack.
I call the FWC again pleading for any help. They said they would call the Gulfport police again.

After the third attack, I sat up waiting for another. During that time, I realized that 500' away where approx. 25 people fishing off the local pier.
Since I was told before that it was my word against the "aggressor", I would loose.

So I call FWC again, and asked (on my behalf) to have the Gulfport police meet me at the dinghy dock, so they could take my statement, and match it with witnesses from the pier.

I waiting over 75 minutes and the Gulfport police never arrived or called me - by that time, my witnesses had gone home.
I would have gone myself, but was afraid to leave my wife aboard, or worse yet, bring her with me in the dinghy and risk another attack, without police available.

Any advice on how to handle these kinds of problems legally.

We were told not to protect or defend ourselves by both the USCG and the FWC.
Again, our word against the aggressor.

Thank you for any suggestions,
Hatch
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Old 30-07-2012, 22:54   #2
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Re: We are being terrorized

Sounds like both cases were pretty standard drunken *******/teenager types. Not much you can to do 'defend' yourself against a circling boat and wake. But keeping a video camera handy (with night mode, or keep it next to the spotlight) might give you all the evidence you need to pursue a civil case, or even criminal charges if the cops ever showed up.
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Old 30-07-2012, 23:13   #3
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Re: We are being terrorized

Video camera?
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Old 30-07-2012, 23:16   #4
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Re: We are being terrorized

Yup. Video the encounters AND let them know that you are doing this.

I would also file formal complaints with the appropriate law enforcement about not responding to an emergency. A letter to the local newspaper can help too.
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Old 30-07-2012, 23:25   #5
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Re: We are being terrorized

As mentioned above, video.

Take ALL emotion out of it, and make written, factual complaints. (you've done a pretty good job above)

ANd then follow up and be a PITA.
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Old 30-07-2012, 23:31   #6
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Re: We are being terrorized

My condolences Hatch. A serious problem that can only be solved by a serious solution. Video would seem excellent advice. I don't know your political structure but would a call to your representatives at various political levels possibly help get the authorities to take it seriously?
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Old 30-07-2012, 23:32   #7
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Re: We are being terrorized

I can't believe these folks haven't run over some floating poly line. I mean, in the dark, it can be really hard to see.
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Old 30-07-2012, 23:34   #8
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Re: We are being terrorized

Quote:
Originally Posted by bstreep View Post
I can't believe these folks haven't run over some floating poly line. I mean, in the dark, it can be really hard to see.
Hard to see by everyone.

Please show some respect for the OP's problem and keep the responses reasonable.
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Old 30-07-2012, 23:45   #9
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Re: We are being terrorized

Quote:
Originally Posted by hummingway View Post
Hard to see by everyone.

Please show some respect for the OP's problem and keep the responses reasonable.
I agree wholeheartedly, but I do have a question/wonder about where the line is sometimes.

If for example you threw a water balloon, would that be assault or self defense? (think of whale wars type tactics)

In Florida it seems like if he actually pulled a gun and opened fire, he'd have a reasonable chance of actually not being charged, but anything less and the OP becomes the bad guy?
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Old 30-07-2012, 23:46   #10
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Re: We are being terrorized

Quote:
Originally Posted by bstreep View Post
I can't believe these folks haven't run over some floating poly line. I mean, in the dark, it can be really hard to see.

+1! An "anchor buoy" with an extra 100' or so of cheap poly line would solve the problem just fine, anyone circling the boat within the radius of the anchor would have a very short ride. And then you could point and laugh while they beg for assistance! It would be easy to deploy once the harrasment begins and only cost a few bucks.
I once had a pair of jet skiers do this to me while I was rowing in my dinghy. When they came back for the third pass I cracked one of them in the head with an oar and he fell off his jet ski and almost drowned. The police were waiting for me when I rowed in but when I explained the situation and was corroborated by my frightened girlfriend, and her small child who was also a passenger, they let me go with a warning. I'd do it again too!
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Old 30-07-2012, 23:55   #11
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Re: We are being terrorized

most all cell phones and point and shoot cameras have video capabilities with sound. Even if it's pitch dark, should be able to get some useful footage to back you up. Nothing like a little video to get the police and a judges attention
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Old 30-07-2012, 23:56   #12
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Re: We are being terrorized

Quote:
Originally Posted by hummingway View Post
Hard to see by everyone.

Please show some respect for the OP's problem and keep the responses reasonable.
Please see my "reasonable" prior post, above. It really was a joke... Kind of like suggesting that you shoot at his waterline with a 22, or unloading on him with a paintball gun - we all think about these kind of responses, but you never carry them out, knowing often things turn out poorly.
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Old 31-07-2012, 00:01   #13
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Re: We are being terrorized

Quote:
Originally Posted by bstreep View Post
Please see my "reasonable" prior post, above. It really was a joke... Kind of like suggesting that you shoot at his waterline with a 22, or unloading on him with a paintball gun - we all think about these kind of responses, but you never carry them out, knowing often things turn out poorly.
Which is exactly how these threads go from helping the OP to being expressions of ego and aggression and finally closed down by the mods.
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Old 31-07-2012, 00:40   #14
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Firstly, no firearms. None, unless he pulls one first and its legal to have where you are. Video, report it WITH the video. If he comes back, be ready to deploy poly line if he comes back more then once or charges again, or have the paintball gun at the ready (you have to defend yourself if life and limb are being seriously threatened, regardless of law enforcement) but give him lots of warnings, video all of this.

It what I'd do.
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Old 31-07-2012, 01:04   #15
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Re: We are being terrorized

Of course the beauty of being on a boat is you can pull up the pick and move when you get jack of your neighbours and surrounds.
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