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Old 03-31-2014, 01:36 PM   #1
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Why Boardings?

Hi All, "Hopefully-not-naive newbie" here with my hopefully not naive question of the week.

While I have been closely following the various "boarding" threads that deal with, basically, how to behave during a boarding, there has not been much said about the "why". Why, exactly, are random boardings occurring? I can understand why the USCG or other local law enforcement agencies would be interested in, for instance, a power boat loaded with beer and young ladies (surely a nuisance will be occurring shortly) or a trawler beating it down the ICW trailing a wake of toilet paper or still cleated to someones dock with, perhaps, a jet ski impaled on his prow - but random boardings? What are they looking for? To see your papers? Is there a thriving trade in stolen trawlers up and down the East Coast?

And to want to root about in your engine room? Really? That's one place I enter only with great reluctance. It's dark, claustrophobic and I'm sure there are some surviving spiders in there that wish me grievous bodily harm.

I also assume that during an on-the-water boarding, you will have your engines running. What happens if the Boarding Officer gets his pant leg or shirt sleeve caught in a fan belt and gets spat out on the other side of the engine. Would this be your fault? Liability?

I do hope there is some rational reason behind a random boarding. What have our trawlering forebears done to incur the wrath of the USCG and others after all that time?

D.
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Old 03-31-2014, 01:45 PM   #2
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I was told it was a random safety check.
I was instructed to maintain my current course and speed.
They did not ask to go into my engine room.
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Old 03-31-2014, 02:16 PM   #3
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Just a gentle request here y'all. Let's try to discuss this without turning it into political mudslinging. Thanks!
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Old 03-31-2014, 02:34 PM   #4
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Since USCG got folded into DHS, its mission expanded a bit. When it comes to recreational boats they are still primarily focused on nav rules, safety, and prevention. I would think this is the main reason for boardings by USCG, while other state and local agencies agendas are broader: safety, environment, wildlife, fish, and who knows what else as dictated by local bylaws and priorities of the day.
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Old 03-31-2014, 03:05 PM   #5
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O.K., I certainly do not wish this to degenerate into anything ugly. I personally have nothing but the greatest respect for all members of law enforcement. They have, outside of a combat soldier, the most dangerous and underrated job I can think of.

It just seems that on the ICW a random boarding would seem entirely unnecessary.

D.
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Old 03-31-2014, 03:18 PM   #6
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In 5,800 miles on the Great Loop, I was boarded four times. All four of these were CG boats doing training of new recruits. These training sessions require actual boardings where officer observe recruits while they practice.

In Jacksonville, FL, I was boarded twice in two consecutive days. During the second boarding I showed the previous day's pink sheet where I passed without a comment, and they backed off with a mild apology.

Pointing out the CG inspection sticker I obtained before starting the trip each time did not preclude any of the inspections.

In one case, the officer looked into the engine room and said it did not have a blower and started to write me up. After I pointed out that I had a diesel engine, and that the blower was therefore not needed, and suggested that the manufacturer was not required to install blowers on his diesel boats, he backed off.

In some areas on the Great Lakes there are multiple jurisdictions and you can get boarded by the Coast Guard and the local Sheriff coming into a port on the same day.

It starts to boarder on harassment. I believe that evidence of one search during a year should be sufficient across all jurisdictions.
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Old 03-31-2014, 03:23 PM   #7
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I asked the same question of one of the skippers of a Coast Guard rib while at the fuel dock and he said for his assignment it's primarily boating safety. With a sprinkle of customs, immigration, and Homeland Security.

He said for every 1 large boat he boards, he probably stops 20 to 30 small boats, under 26'. A majority of the serious violations are among the trailer boat community and it runs the whole gambit. Overloading, no life saving devices, no signal devices, fuel sloshing around in the bilge, and generally un-seaworthy craft. He says it's a real eye opener.
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Old 03-31-2014, 03:41 PM   #8
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Because, and lets be honest here,

1) its a simple CYA (cover your ass). In society people claim they want autonomy, but as soon as something goes wrong they are looking to blame some one. same reason when you go to a doctor they do a complete beyond reason exam and explanation. if they dont cover their bases some one will sue and its their life that gets miserable... One accident happens on the water way and now the coast guard is going thru extensive clean up both physically and legally....

and
2) as was pointed out above, people cheat, cut corners and dont follow the rules WAY to often.... I would love to say i could pass and inspection with flying colors... truth is I doubt I could... I am just way too far behind fixing things.. not out of outright neglect, but out of sheer volume of stuff to fix... I bet most on here have things that are "questionable" as well, as we all know... all it takes is one accident in the worst of circumstances and everyone life gets upset... not JUST the one trawler that had the accident... accidents lead to regulations and regulations lead to law enforcement and law enforcement leads us to this thread....LOL
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Old 03-31-2014, 04:00 PM   #9
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I can certainly understand the need for safety checks given what I see on the water: poor seamanship, boats in rough condition, no life jackets, oil in the bilge, etc. I can't tell you how many times I view young children without lifejackets (I never see adults wear them except when operating wave runners). The CG always seem surprised to see that my wife and I wear a jacket. Consistent with Great Laker's experience, my boardings appear to be training opportunities for new recruits. I personally would rather be boarded by the CG than local LE any day--the former are always professional and polite.
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Old 03-31-2014, 04:17 PM   #10
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O.K., I see that this is a sensitive issue with some of you and I re-iterate: no criticism of law enforcement personnel is intended.

My original question still is - what are they looking for in your "paperwork"? Or is it just the opening "license and registration please..." you get from the highway patrolman before you get the bad news about your speeding?

Also, why would they want to root about in your engine room? (Would it have to do with the dreaded Y-valve?)

I guess I just want to know what to expect when our trawler adventure begins, (soon, I hope).

By the way, Edelweiss, I just love your Avatar! We intend to cruise with TWO cats.

D.
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Old 03-31-2014, 04:18 PM   #11
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The concept of boarding is to promote safety of people and the environment...but many boardings are driven by "quotas" directed by people trying to get promoted (unfortunately)...

...of course the is a political side to boardings too...show the flag and all...lot's of them after an alcohol incident...etc...etc....
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Old 03-31-2014, 04:20 PM   #12
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I always assumed that there were so many boardings in the San Juan Islands because we're right on the border with Canada. It looked to me more like a security measure than a safety measure.

But, when talking to one of the boarding officers on our boat, he said we were the only boat they had boarded that day that passed the safety inspection. All the others were sent back to port to correct safety issues.

I know that I make sure we're in compliance because there is a good chance of getting boarded during the summer season. I don't really like being boarded, but have always had polite, reasonable CG personnel on our boat.
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Old 03-31-2014, 04:21 PM   #13
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They want to look into bilges (not necessarily engine room) to look for fuel, oil, excess water and for your overboard discharge seacock from your holding tank.

technically without probable cause they can only look into "man sized compartments" and for special items....not just random search of drawers, lockers, etc.....

Of course they want to see all required safety gear and paperwork.
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Old 03-31-2014, 04:28 PM   #14
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Over two and a half decades of boating, I've never been boarded. I believe having a throwable flotation device visible, operating in a prudent manner, and other visible acts showing knowledge of regulations will minimize boardings.




On the other hand, random inspections will occur. Hopefully, you won't have a seaman aiming the machine gun at you.

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Old 03-31-2014, 04:34 PM   #15
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Often it is for training

I was stopped and inspected while out exploring in my inflatable. When the questions had obvious answers
I realized it must be a training exercise. It was oblivious that I had a life jacket on board, I was wearing it' as the boat is an open boat, he could see I had no weapons on board. Or for that mater half a dozen other items not required. I actually felt sorry for him when the portable printer failed and he had to go over all questions again and fill out the report by hand. When they were leaving the last question asked was if I was going to continue to my intended destination, I said no it was too late to go now. In all it was very friendly with a lot of small talk.
What I find more unnerving is being approached by a small patrol boat that is providing a safe zone with a black suited masked crew aiming a machine gun at your boat. I have been approached this way and told to maintain coarse and speed. Or to maintain distance from an escorted vessel. This is guaranteed to get your attention.
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Old 03-31-2014, 04:39 PM   #16
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Here the local police "beat off" a boat which was too close to our ship.

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Old 03-31-2014, 06:06 PM   #17
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personally I have no problems with safety inspections as I live in a state that requires inspections on your car, truck, etc. to make sure that brakes, lights, tires, etc are all in working order. I travel to states with no state inspection and regularly see bald tires, hear squealing brakes etc. I know guys that never check their bilge, have lights that don't work, out of date flares, etc, etc, etc. The CG Aux. comes to our dock every year to do safety inspections. I'm the first guy to volunteer. i like having the second set of eyes double checking me. Was boarded twice in 35 years by the regular CG. I showed them what they wanted to see and then thanked them for their service.
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Old 03-31-2014, 06:12 PM   #18
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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.
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Old 03-31-2014, 06:16 PM   #19
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My husband has been on a boarded vessel a few times. Two I recall the circumstances. 1) they were motoring a sailboat home from a race and it was around 2am. Basically the USCG asked what they were doing out there at that hour. USCG were quite nice and it went quickly, no issues. Perhaps, like on the highway, they are concerned about drunk driving at that hour. 2) they were motoring a sailboat home from a race and had stopped at a waterfront bar for a few drinks on the way. The USCG boarded them just off the bar and reminded them they needed at least two sober operators. USCG were quite nice and it went quickly, no issues. Perhaps, like on a highway, they are concerned about people driving drunk when leaving a bar.
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Old 03-31-2014, 06:56 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NYCHAB III View Post
By the way, Edelweiss, I just love your Avatar! We intend to cruise with TWO cats.
D.
That's my dock neighbor ladies crazy Asian Leopard cat, a $1500 Bengal named "Bentley". He loves to come over and sit on my bow pulpit. He's just high enough above the dock that passing dogs can't reach him, but he can still hiss and swat at them with his inch long claws.
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