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Old 03-31-2014, 07:11 PM   #21
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The short answer is safety and documentation check. 14 USC 89 gives them this right.
PSNeeld is correct about checking man size compartments, for safety of the boarding team. During the Haitian desperate times (baby Doc), man size compartment dimensions were drastically reduced.
Good old Baby Doc ...located a yacht one flight off Haiti and directed the cutter to follow it...found out it was his and after a day's worth of contacts with the State Department going back and forth with all the assorted agencies...they finally said break off and avoid...

I think this was even when he was wanted by international courts...

Gotta love politics...
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Old 03-31-2014, 08:07 PM   #22
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I was approached by the CA Dept of Fish and Wildlife boat a few weeks ago for a license check. It was an hour after sunset, so it was too dark to identify the vessel approaching without a spotlight. They had no flashing lightsAs they approached, I guess they assumed I knew who they were and started asking questions. My first reply was "Who are you, DFW?" Once that was settled, I was relaxed knowing I wasn't being approached be some ne'er-do-well. The rest of the 'visit' was cordial and professional.

Sometimes LEO's assume we know who they are when we don't. Approaching a vessel in the dark without special lights can be cause for alarm.
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Old 03-31-2014, 08:39 PM   #23
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Life jackets

used to get boarded several times a year minimum. After I started wearing an inflatable PFD all the time, boardings stopped happening. Fish and game will swing by to check for licenses if I am fishing but they generally do not board.
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Old 03-31-2014, 09:37 PM   #24
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For some ancillary information about boardings, there's a good article in the April 2014 issue of Passage Maker magazine written by a retired Chief Boatswain's Mate.
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Old 03-31-2014, 11:16 PM   #25
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I do not have a problem being boarded.

That said, as others have indicated in my area its the trailer boats that get boarded.

I think they assume that the bigger boats are captained by more experienced persons and probably have the required safety gear.

I keep a single three ring binder with my current documentation, nav rules, waste disposal plan, etc... ready so everything is in one place just in case.
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Old 04-01-2014, 06:40 AM   #26
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It just seems that on the ICW a random boarding would seem entirely unnecessary.

Perhaps the Seizure laws have as much to do with boardings as toilet checks..

If they get lucky , they own the boat.

Some folks carry CA$H , rather than risk credit card fraud (they may not discover for months ,) and a >large< (unspecified) amount of cash is proof of bad intentions and can be confiscated.

Just as at any airport.
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Old 04-01-2014, 11:29 AM   #27
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I do not have a problem being boarded.

That said, as others have indicated in my area its the trailer boats that get boarded.

I think they assume that the bigger boats are captained by more experienced persons and probably have the required safety gear.
Same here - all the LEO's and Coast Guard around here seem to be attracted to jet ski's and runabouts. We have never been boarded.
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Old 04-01-2014, 11:49 AM   #28
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In our home area, it's different. Boats don't just get boarded for preservers and basic equipment. Non functioning waste systems, weapons, contraband, illegal passengers or illegal entry of the boat (failure to clear properly). Those are all part of it. So whereas in some areas it's all or mostly safety related, in South Florida it's crime related as well.

We've been boarded 3 times, each time when we were on a different boat. Each time has been courteous and quick, but also thorough. All you have to do is be polite and respectful and answer all questions honestly. The quickest way to trouble is being combative or lying. Tell them there are no weapons and then they find a gun, big trouble. Now the search will be complete and lengthy.

But we're in an international area where boats are entering and leaving the country daily.
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Old 04-01-2014, 11:59 AM   #29
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But we're in an international area where boats are entering and leaving the country daily.
We are as well - Canada border is less than 100' off my marina entrance. I can't leave my marina without entering Canadian waters. We have tons of Border Patrol boats on the Niagara River, they will target Canada boats in US waters to make sure they are properly checked in, but that's about it. Never seen one pull over a US registered boat.

The Leo's and Coast Guard up here don't seem to concern themselves with border issues..
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Old 04-01-2014, 12:43 PM   #30
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We are as well - Canada border is less than 100' off my marina entrance. I can't leave my marina without entering Canadian waters. We have tons of Border Patrol boats on the Niagara River, they will target Canada boats in US waters to make sure they are properly checked in, but that's about it. Never seen one pull over a US registered boat.

The Leo's and Coast Guard up here don't seem to concern themselves with border issues..
In South Florida a very significant percentage of the larger boats are under foreign flags plus many of the US flagged vessels are returning from somewhere else.
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Old 04-01-2014, 03:07 PM   #31
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The USCG boarded them just off the bar and reminded them they needed at least two sober operators.
Two sober operators? I've never seen or heard of that before. There are times when I'm on my boat alone. I wonder what they would say about that?
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Old 04-01-2014, 03:34 PM   #32
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Two sober operators? I've never seen or heard of that before. There are times when I'm on my boat alone. I wonder what they would say about that?
That's a new one on me too...there is a line of thought that the operator is not a "proper lookout".....thus 2 people...but as much as the USCG sanctions solo almost anything on the water...they are hard pressed to enforce that concept.
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Old 04-01-2014, 05:58 PM   #33
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It just seems that on the ICW a random boarding would seem entirely unnecessary.

Perhaps the Seizure laws have as much to do with boardings as toilet checks..

If they get lucky , they own the boat.

Some folks carry CA$H , rather than risk credit card fraud (they may not discover for months ,) and a >large< (unspecified) amount of cash is proof of bad intentions and can be confiscated.

Just as at any airport.
Well here's the answer folks. And all along, I thought boardings were for our safety.
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Old 04-03-2014, 11:52 AM   #34
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We used to have the utmost respect fro the CG until we were boarded in March 2006 a few miles from Miami while returning from the Bahamas. two young guys came on board and were friendly and courteous. Everything checked out, we had everything required and then some. But suddenly there were whispered conversations on the radio and we were told there was a problem with our paperwork. What's the problem? We can't tell you but a more senior person will have to come aboard. Since we were living on the boat we had every piece of paper along from the time we first looked at the boats and then bought it. Not good enough, there is a problem. What's the problem? We can't tell you but you have to go into the CG station in Miami.

Up to this point we thought this was just part of the cruising adventure. They left the two young guys aboard and the big CG cutter followed us into Miami. The guys were having a good time, they had never been on sailboat. We were coming straight back from Nassau, having been under way for almost 24 hours now, we asked if it would be OK to go below and take a shower, sure no problem. Coming up on the Miami sea buoy I started to turn into the wind to take the sail down and the two guys almost wet their pants. I guess they thought we were going to make a run for it, our 52HP Perkins against their 50,000HP cutter.

Coming into the CG station they made us tie up to a huge concrete dock meant for the cutter and had to literally pull us up the side to get off the boat. My wife scraped her knees and elbows pretty bad. Then we had to stand behind a building, out of sight of our boat while they did whatever they did. Part of it was putting a dog aboard which left muddy paw prints all over the deck and cockpit cushions. Whenever I asked what was going on, there was no answer. They finally told us we were free to leave. I started making a scene because I wanted some answers. Finally some other guy came up and told us the our boat had been involved in some drug activity in 1999, hence the search. That was absolute BS because in 1999 the boat spent the whole year in a slip in Kemah, TX, while we were working on it to get ready to go cruising.

They finally did offer my wife some band aids but we told them what they could do with them. At this point it was dark so I asked if we could append the night but were told that we had to leave. Luckily we had been at the anchorage we were heading for before, otherwise it would have been really exciting anchoring at night in a new location.

I spent two years writing letters asking for when and where this alleged drug activity took place and who was aboard. After getting the run around for a year I finally gave up.

After that experience I put the CG right down there with the customs people at the airports, bullies with badges and guns that give them the right to harass, intimidate and bully the people who pay their salary.

Any current or ex CG who might shed some light on what happened that day?

Bob
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Old 04-03-2014, 01:06 PM   #35
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We used to have the utmost respect fro the CG until we were boarded in March 2006 a few miles from Miami while returning from the Bahamas. two young guys came on board and were friendly and courteous. Everything checked out, we had everything required and then some. But suddenly there were whispered conversations on the radio and we were told there was a problem with our paperwork. What's the problem? We can't tell you but a more senior person will have to come aboard. Since we were living on the boat we had every piece of paper along from the time we first looked at the boats and then bought it. Not good enough, there is a problem. What's the problem? We can't tell you but you have to go into the CG station in Miami.

Up to this point we thought this was just part of the cruising adventure. They left the two young guys aboard and the big CG cutter followed us into Miami. The guys were having a good time, they had never been on sailboat. We were coming straight back from Nassau, having been under way for almost 24 hours now, we asked if it would be OK to go below and take a shower, sure no problem. Coming up on the Miami sea buoy I started to turn into the wind to take the sail down and the two guys almost wet their pants. I guess they thought we were going to make a run for it, our 52HP Perkins against their 50,000HP cutter.

Coming into the CG station they made us tie up to a huge concrete dock meant for the cutter and had to literally pull us up the side to get off the boat. My wife scraped her knees and elbows pretty bad. Then we had to stand behind a building, out of sight of our boat while they did whatever they did. Part of it was putting a dog aboard which left muddy paw prints all over the deck and cockpit cushions. Whenever I asked what was going on, there was no answer. They finally told us we were free to leave. I started making a scene because I wanted some answers. Finally some other guy came up and told us the our boat had been involved in some drug activity in 1999, hence the search. That was absolute BS because in 1999 the boat spent the whole year in a slip in Kemah, TX, while we were working on it to get ready to go cruising.

They finally did offer my wife some band aids but we told them what they could do with them. At this point it was dark so I asked if we could append the night but were told that we had to leave. Luckily we had been at the anchorage we were heading for before, otherwise it would have been really exciting anchoring at night in a new location.

I spent two years writing letters asking for when and where this alleged drug activity took place and who was aboard. After getting the run around for a year I finally gave up.

After that experience I put the CG right down there with the customs people at the airports, bullies with badges and guns that give them the right to harass, intimidate and bully the people who pay their salary.

Any current or ex CG who might shed some light on what happened that day?

Bob
Sounds obvious that it was a drug check, either suspicion in the past or actual drugs on it, unless mistaken identity of boat. When did you acquire the boat?

While I see all of it as a very disturbing situation and your wife's injuries unnecessary, I don't see the "harass, intimidate, bully" part. They even allowed you to shower.

I was traveling back into the US by plane with a friend one day and his name and city had obviously kicked him out as he was immediately pulled aside. I sat waiting over 2 hours but it was obvious that he and the agent with him were talking casually so no big issue. Turned out he wasn't the one they were after. But while sitting, I did see them take a lady with a baby off in custody to be put in jail.

Now, as long as we as a country insist they fight this war on drugs this is part of what they do. That is an entirely different subject for debate, but given their current responsibilities what you had happen is part of it. In their worst days years ago, they were far less courteous and did a lot of damage to boats.
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Old 04-03-2014, 01:20 PM   #36
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That's a truly scary story Bob, having your wife pulled up the side of the concrete dock was grossly irresponsible and negligent. I think if you had documented her injuries you would have had a solid legal case. If it had have been my wife they in the least would have learned some new obscenities.

It is this sort of bureaucratic nonsense that disturbs me, there doesn't seem to be any accountability when civil servants over step their authority. There should be a clear path between the person standing on your boat and his superiors on shore. I see no reason why they can not state on boarding what to do and who to call if you feel you have been mistreated. No different than being read your rights when being arrested. I realize that in the vast majority of cases a boarding is amiable and professional but when it does go badly there should be some clear well established recourse to take.
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Old 04-03-2014, 01:40 PM   #37
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2006 most likely is too long ago to ask that someone from the CG be held accountable, but having heard this, if I'm boarded I'll document with photos of everything... boarding crew, names, following CG vessels, names of anyone/all involved.... dates, times, locations sea conditions, and I would document the entire encounter and send it to the Commandant of the Coast Guard and ask for an explanation. I would think that the Commandant would want to know this and would give their side of the story...
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Old 04-03-2014, 03:04 PM   #38
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Like I said, there was no way that boat was involved in anything like that in 1999, we bought the boat in June or July of '98. And neither one of us has ever had anything to do with drugs or been accused of anything like that. I would have liked to have had some explanation, if not an apology, that either they made a mistake, can happen, or it was a training exercise. But all I ever got for a year was the runaround.

I realize that at this point there is not going to be an answer, I just want others to be aware that they apparently can do as they please and no one has to answer for it.

Bob
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Old 04-03-2014, 03:13 PM   #39
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Like I said, there was no way that boat was involved in anything like that in 1999, we bought the boat in June or July of '98. And neither one of us has ever had anything to do with drugs or been accused of anything like that. I would have liked to have had some explanation, if not an apology, that either they made a mistake, can happen, or it was a training exercise. But all I ever got for a year was the runaround.

I realize that at this point there is not going to be an answer, I just want others to be aware that they apparently can do as they please and no one has to answer for it.

Bob
But perhaps the year was wrong. Perhaps it wasn't 99 but was 98. I'm just tossing that out as a possibility. You don't know the boats history prior to you purchasing it. It could have even been that the previous owners were involved in something in 99. Regardless, as it's part of an investigation, they aren't likely to give answers. Definitely wasn't a training exercise. It was an investigative effort for whatever reason.

You said you chased for answers for a long time. Did you ever consider consulting with a Maritime attorney?
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Old 04-03-2014, 03:17 PM   #40
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We used to have the utmost respect fro the CG until we were boarded in March 2006 a few miles from Miami while returning from the Bahamas. two young guys came on board and were friendly and courteous. Everything checked out, we had everything required and then some. But suddenly there were whispered conversations on the radio and we were told there was a problem with our paperwork. What's the problem? We can't tell you but a more senior person will have to come aboard. Since we were living on the boat we had every piece of paper along from the time we first looked at the boats and then bought it. Not good enough, there is a problem. What's the problem? We can't tell you but you have to go into the CG station in Miami.

Up to this point we thought this was just part of the cruising adventure. They left the two young guys aboard and the big CG cutter followed us into Miami. The guys were having a good time, they had never been on sailboat. We were coming straight back from Nassau, having been under way for almost 24 hours now, we asked if it would be OK to go below and take a shower, sure no problem. Coming up on the Miami sea buoy I started to turn into the wind to take the sail down and the two guys almost wet their pants. I guess they thought we were going to make a run for it, our 52HP Perkins against their 50,000HP cutter.

Coming into the CG station they made us tie up to a huge concrete dock meant for the cutter and had to literally pull us up the side to get off the boat. My wife scraped her knees and elbows pretty bad. Then we had to stand behind a building, out of sight of our boat while they did whatever they did. Part of it was putting a dog aboard which left muddy paw prints all over the deck and cockpit cushions. Whenever I asked what was going on, there was no answer. They finally told us we were free to leave. I started making a scene because I wanted some answers. Finally some other guy came up and told us the our boat had been involved in some drug activity in 1999, hence the search. That was absolute BS because in 1999 the boat spent the whole year in a slip in Kemah, TX, while we were working on it to get ready to go cruising.

They finally did offer my wife some band aids but we told them what they could do with them. At this point it was dark so I asked if we could append the night but were told that we had to leave. Luckily we had been at the anchorage we were heading for before, otherwise it would have been really exciting anchoring at night in a new location.

I spent two years writing letters asking for when and where this alleged drug activity took place and who was aboard. After getting the run around for a year I finally gave up.

After that experience I put the CG right down there with the customs people at the airports, bullies with badges and guns that give them the right to harass, intimidate and bully the people who pay their salary.

Any current or ex CG who might shed some light on what happened that day?

Bob
Let me share with you some VERY old news from those in the know. They have the capability to read your radar signals and are able to detect who bought that Radar, GPS, or VHF and where, and when. If a name comes up on their "we've been wanting to meet this guy list"-you might get the treatment. I sold a 48' fast sailboat (yes they exist) back in the late 80's that belonged to a "quite open about his source of income" guy living in a mansion on Miami Beach-quite open on his running fast from Jamaica to Miami only in heavy sea's and storms, and to top it off he was half Palestinian and half Jamaican. I sold her to a fellow from Germany, who owned a home in Ecuador, but kept her in Cartagena Colombia. He used to haul for repairs in Cuba. So he's bringing the boat to me to resell 4 year later, and the shaft fell out (probably why you never hear people touting Cuban boat yards!) between Cuba and here, so he pulls into Key West. Did I mention that he never changed the name of the boat, and that the centerboard well had been filled in with foam? He said "You couldn't believe the delight of the Coast Guard when I showed up". They had a field day, they were ready to bring out the TV crews for a press conference. BUT- he was a founding member of the United Nations, and in one phone call to obviously somebody pretty high up- they apologized for the inconvenience and towed him over to a boat yard.
Moral of the story? Always unplug your electronics when coming from places that's nobody's business, change the name of your boat if bought from a known outlaw, and pay cash for your electronics IF your a outlaw.
AND better yet, have a friend in high places.
Another time my son (back when he was young and cute) and I was given a tour of a navy spy boat by a long time client who turned out to have been a quite high up guy with the DEA. This stealth boat had a BIG room inside it like a Star Trek movie set =totally surrounded by big screens (back when there were no such things as big screens) and it was tracking every boat and airplane in a 360 radius, and they zoomed into just one, and pulled up where registered, and what electronics it had, where bought by whom, with what credit card and where. WOW. And that was BEFORE the NSA.
That all said, I've come back and forth from the Bahamas "forever" on boats with no electronics at all, and I've never even seen law enforcement boats, much less been boarded. At the boat ramp locally I've been asked "you have any foreign citizens onboard?" as I loaded the boat on the trailer.. "Nope" was the answer they were looking for-so that's as far as it goes. Also- having been in rooms in Bimini stacked to the ceilings with cocaine, I'm pretty sure that the guys who sell it-immediately phone their cousins who work for the Bahama Royal Defense force, who call the US Government to report who-what -when, and where, so they can all go on happily doing business as usual. lol
Oh, wait a minute I just remembered a "river blockade" the Feds had on the Miami River, checking every boat coming in (early 90s) and I was told on the radio by boatyard owner to "don't come today, they're stopping and searching every boat"-so since I was on a schedule, and didn't want to wait until tomorrow, I put my big Confederate Flag up on the transom of my 50' Pilothouse Powerboat, and came up the river with Hailer announcement "I'm a CSA boat not bound by your laws" and much to my surprise they parted and I steamed on. I think they figured "ok, sounds good to us". lol
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