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Old 08-07-2016, 09:22   #16
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Re: To board or not to board, that is the question

I was boarded off shore between San Diego and Turtle Bay. I saw their ship and hailed them asking for a fix. (Sat nav days) They replied "yes we'll send the location over with the boarding party". Smart ass!
The boarding party was a Lieutenant and a couple other guys. One stayed in the tender. It was early am and the seas were very sloppy with little wind. They asked me to heave to so I just dropped the sails. By 5 mins into the inspection both of the young guardsmen were literally green! haha. I got a warning for no holding tank/lock on the seacock. I guess I got my revenge though.
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Old 08-07-2016, 09:24   #17
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Re: To board or not to board, that is the question

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Originally Posted by Steve Bean View Post
I was first mate for a year and a half aboard a 55-foot ketch on the east coast in the late 70s. Between Florida and Boston we were boarded by USCG four times. Never asked permission, always polite, no dumping out of drawers or the like. They were apparently looking for bales of weed, not small packages.
Re: justification for right to board, there are some big differences between a house and a boat. Your house is not moving around on the public waterways, potentially causing a hazard to navigation. It is not smuggling drugs, guns, or illegal human cargo, or spilling oil or sewage.
Also, if your house is suspected of involvement in criminal activity, it can be searched ( with a search warrant) any time. This is a common occurrence.
Yeah, yet they cant inspect inside your car without permission. Doesn't make sense really to be able to board your boat.
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Old 08-07-2016, 09:28   #18
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Re: To board or not to board, that is the question

I don't think anyone finds it unreasonable that they removed the magazine from the gun. But when they hid the two pieces in different places that goes beyond basic gun safety.

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Old 08-07-2016, 09:29   #19
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Re: To board or not to board, that is the question

I'm probably mistaken, but don't they have the right to board you for a "safety inspection" at any time, but they need "probable cause" to search your vessel?


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Old 08-07-2016, 09:39   #20
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Re: To board or not to board, that is the question

There are many threads on this.
What it amount to is you are not free from unreasonable search and seizure, do not have the same privacy you have in your land based home, this is not new, it has always, or at least for the last 200 yrs or so been like this.
You can be boarded pretty much at any time for any reason by the USCG if your US flagged, I hate to say get over it, but do so, start a campaign to change things if you don't like it etc.
But the kid boarding you is just a kid trying to do his or her job, 99% of the time they are just that, be nice to them, give their superiors Hell if you like to via letter or however you chose, but the person boarding your boat does not make policy, nor can they change it.
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Old 08-07-2016, 09:46   #21
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Re: To board or not to board, that is the question

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Originally Posted by nautical62 View Post
It's courtesy that they ask. They have the right to board and search your vessel without your permission.

It's a right I personally disagree with. I feel that I should enjoy the same rights on my boat that I do as a home owner. If the authorities want to enter my boat and search it, they should need a search warrant.

The fact is however, they don't require a search warrant, which is something as boaters we need to understand and accept. It is what it is.
This doesn't seem to be widely understood, never mind accepted. The USCG, on the other hand, doesn't seem to grasp that they can't (or should not attempt) to board foreign-flagged vessels in international waters, or "the high seas", which by definition are beyond any one nation's jurisdiction. Jurisdiction - Chapter 3
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Old 08-07-2016, 09:50   #22
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Re: To board or not to board, that is the question

I know this is going to sound crazy, BUT, I worked for 18 years as a Coast Guard licensed skipper on yachts and small commercial craft. I've made five trips between Cape Cod and Key West. I've done the Great Loop. I ran crew boats in the Louisiana oil patch. I've been back and forth between Florida and the Bahamas several times. I sailed from Spain to Fort Lauderdale. I took a nine-month, single-handed vacation from Fort Lauderdale to Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and back, and I have NEVER ONCE been boarded except when anchored checking in in Mexico, and Guatemala. But NEVER ONCE while underway.
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Old 08-07-2016, 09:50   #23
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Re: To board or not to board, that is the question

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Hey group,
I was moving my Hunter 26.5 from the Houston area to Port Aransas and because of the lack of wind in the Gulf, was motoring down the Inter Coastal Waterway (which is a story in itself)..

Just south of Port O'Connor I spotted a power boat with its flashing blue lights on, and worse yet, it was clearly heading toward me.. Yep, it was the U.S.C.G, and it sure seemed I was going to be boarded for a safety inspection..

I was wearing my C.G. Veterans cap (as I most often do).. When the bosun noticed it as they came along side, he asked if I had servered and what I did.. When I told him I was an Electronics Tech, he just seemed to look down his nose at me and said in a dismissing tone "oh, you were an engineer"..

Well I sure as hell wanted to tell him before I went to ET school, I did nearly a year out in California in the small boats and at the very least, my share of life saving.. And once I was just that "engineer", I was the guy who came down to the boats at 2am just to flip the breaker to the Radio when they couldn't figure out why it didn't work..

"Yes young lad", I felt telling him, "I did a lot more than just hand out tickets to boaters who don't have enough life vests".. But instead, I just bit my tongue and politely smiled..

But then he asked me if I would like to be boarded for an inspection.. This caught me totally off guard.. When I was in the CG some 35+ years ago, we never asked if the boater wanted to be boarded..

I told him I would be honored being it would have been my first, but I was short on time since we wanted to make it to Port Aransas. He then suggested I have a nice day and they left, continuing up the ICW..

My question for the group, is this common these days for the Coast Guard to ask if you want to be boarded, or was I just getting a little "professional courtsey"??

flk k
Have nothing but good things to say about the CG Sector Corpus Christi. There is far more Recreational contact in that area, than Houston/Galveston, but have yet to hear an unwarranted horror story. In the case of where you were and where you were going, I would say it is pretty much the norm to not hold someone up unless they "got that feeling" when they made contact.

I believe it is customary for almost all law enforcement to be polite and ask, but for the most part the question is rhetorical unless, in your case, you have a good reason where it would impede the safe navigation to your intended port.
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Old 08-07-2016, 09:51   #24
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Re: To board or not to board, that is the question

Last month I was crewing on a 42ft boat and we got boarded outside of Ft. Pierce, FL. As the coasties pulled up they asked when was the last time the boat had been boarded. The owners said the boat was new to them and it had never been boarded. It makes me wonder if they said "two months ago" if the coasties would have bothered. The coasties were quick about it. Didn't check any seacocks or go through the drawers. It was probably done in 20 minutes. They gave the captain the paperwork and said to show it if they got boarded again in the next year or so and the coasties wouldn't need to search the boat again.
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Old 08-07-2016, 09:57   #25
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Re: To board or not to board, that is the question

I am a Canadian on an Ontario registered sailing vessel. While anchored, I had to tell the U.S. CG near Massena NY that they were on the wrong side of the dotted line. They were in Canada. OOPS, they left.
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Old 08-07-2016, 10:02   #26
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Re: To board or not to board, that is the question

If you are a U.S. registered vessel the Coast Guard CAN board you anywhere in the world!
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Old 08-07-2016, 10:21   #27
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Re: To board or not to board, that is the question

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Last month I was crewing on a 42ft boat and we got boarded outside of Ft. Pierce, FL. As the coasties pulled up they asked when was the last time the boat had been boarded. The owners said the boat was new to them and it had never been boarded. It makes me wonder if they said "two months ago" if the coasties would have bothered. The coasties were quick about it. Didn't check any seacocks or go through the drawers. It was probably done in 20 minutes. They gave the captain the paperwork and said to show it if they got boarded again in the next year or so and the coasties wouldn't need to search the boat again.
It is a leading question. It is all kept in a database for USCG Documented Vessels. https://cgmix.uscg.mil/psix/psixsearch.aspx where you can get public access to the summary.

Once you find your boat, there is a form on the bottom for "Summary of Coast Guard Contacts." Many times they already know who you are and how many times you have been boarded before they make contact.

Also, if you stated it was 2 months ago, they may ask for the paperwork. Where this would get you in trouble is if any deficiencies were listed as a warning and not corrected in the 2 months since your last boarding, you might have a better chance of being cited for it.

Regarding the argument of whether they can board and search or not - it is not an argument. Also note that this extends to any agency that falls under DHS, not just the CG, which can also extend to most branches of LE once on navigable waterways.
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Old 08-07-2016, 10:35   #28
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Re: To board or not to board, that is the question

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Coast Guard has the legal right to board for any reason.
And if off Florida or SE it usually is looking for drugs.
As mentioned above, be polite. :-)
You nailed it. Being polite with any law enforcement goes a long way. We pay them to do a job and get upset when they do it?
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Old 08-07-2016, 10:41   #29
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Re: To board or not to board, that is the question

Much like with the border crossings, there seems to be a huge difference depending on what station it is.

In the PNW, I got stopped by a joint RCMP/USCG boat once. They had a quick chat, asked if I'd ever had an inspection to which I said no, but that I had all the signalling equipment, fire extinguishers etc. Then they wished me good day and left.

Probably helped that both me and my passenger were wearing lifejackets.
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Old 08-07-2016, 10:46   #30
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Re: To board or not to board, that is the question

The CG can board US vessels without probable cause anywhere in the world.

They can board vessels of any nation without probable cause: (a) in US waters (economic zone is 200 miles out) (b) if the US has an agreement with the foreign country (many), or (c) by making a quick call to the State Department to get permission from the country's embassy (which is unlikely to be denied for a law enforcement issue).

I also think the Federal law the CG uses violates the 4th Amendment for probable cause. Some day there will be another court case to look at it again. The CG (as the Revenue Service) was given broad inspection powers because customs duties on ships cargo coming into the US was the primary source of revenue for the new federal government. It wasn't drug interdiction. It wasn't safety - life jackets hadn't been invented.

I can see no reason that the CG shouldn't be required to have probable cause to board a vessel - except when the vessel is entering US waters from the high seas.
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