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Old 06-25-2016, 06:56 PM   #1
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You have just been boarded by the CG.

I understand that the CG is exempt from having to observe 4th Amendment protections as regards boaters. They can board anyone at any time they want to, period. Not the question I have. My question is that upon boarding, one wants to cooperate as much as possible to make things go smoothly but how far does that extend? If say some JG or deckhand comes aboard and starts giving the boat owner orders like pull that hatch, open that closet, lift that heavy eng cover etc, how much is the boat owner expected to put up with? I would be inclined to tell them, "hey pal, you came aboard uninvited so if you want something done, do it yourself." Does anyone know the truth of the matter? Thanks
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Old 06-25-2016, 07:10 PM   #2
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Never been boarded in the 21st century by the USCG despite (or because of) berthing and boating within a quarter-mile of one of their stations. Here, they appear to have more important duties. (When boating in the 1960s and 1980s, can't recall ever seeing the Guard except for cutters berthed in Alameda.)



Regardless, I'd be respectful and compliant.
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Old 06-25-2016, 07:17 PM   #3
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There going to find the illegal aliens you're smuggling, stop now.

Be polite and follow their directives. If you can't comply, explain why. They will do the searching without you so that you don't grab your gun. They are somewhat flexible if you have a cooperative attitude. If your going to be an a$$, bring KY cause there well within mission statement to make your life and boat miserable.

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Old 06-25-2016, 07:20 PM   #4
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But again, what is the legal obligation of the owner? Of course one wants to be polite etc., otherwise things don't go well with most authority. But at what point can the owner say, no, you do that.
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Old 06-25-2016, 07:26 PM   #5
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Reasonable can be a tricky thing to define....

Either work with them the best you can....or they can make things pretty bad......

Most likely they wont...but they don't know how your boat works or is put together...so they will ask you to do a lot...if unable, explain and ask to be helped.

A good example is certain types of latches and locks aren't easily figured out.they dont min doi g the lifting...they juse don want to damaze something and get the bill..
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Old 06-25-2016, 08:03 PM   #6
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We were boarded by the CG just last week. They were very polite and just checked paper work and safety equipment. This was the third time we had been boarded over a ten year period and every one of those we had no problems, we found the CG to always be friendly and polite. You treat them with respect and they treat you the same. Just remember when something bad happens out there you'll be calling them.
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Old 06-25-2016, 08:03 PM   #7
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The coast guard wears several hats including law enforcement, fisheries enforcement, boating safety, port security, customs, etc. They can seize your boat and confine you, but not without reason. They are people, too. So when you are an a-hole there is a possibility they might be one too.
On the other hand, if you're in trouble on the water you couldn't have a better friend.
I've been on the water about 60 years and boarded twice, 40 years apart. Everybody was professional.
Boardings go easy if you know the regs and have your vessel in compliance. Well run boats that look shipshape get fewer boardings.
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Old 06-25-2016, 08:08 PM   #8
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All of the above. I have been boarded several times by each of the dozen or so agencies that have that authority here in South Florida, or so it seems like. The USCG is by far the most professional and polite, FMP is the opposite. County and City water cops are OK, and the Rangers are usually very polite too.

You pull that Sea Lawyer stuff on a guy just trying to do his job and it may not go well.





Quote:
Originally Posted by 78puget-trawler View Post
But again, what is the legal obligation of the owner? Of course one wants to be polite etc., otherwise things don't go well with most authority. But at what point can the owner say, no, you do that.
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Old 06-25-2016, 08:18 PM   #9
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Removed as we are from your CG, polite cooperation is best. Each boarding could be electronically recorded by CG, smart ass behavior, tempting as it is, could see you marked as uncooperative. Might even increase boardings if they access boat records before deciding to board.
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Old 06-25-2016, 09:14 PM   #10
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We were boarded twice in 2015. Just be respectful and they will also. The second boarding was a very cool morning in NC early April. The cabin was warm. They did not want to get back into their open boat. I asked why they keep pulling over a relatively new slow trawler with two rather portly middle aged cruisers. They said "Because trawlers are so much easier to inspect than sailboats."
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Old 06-25-2016, 09:45 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 78puget-trawler View Post
But again, what is the legal obligation of the owner? Of course one wants to be polite etc., otherwise things don't go well with most authority. But at what point can the owner say, no, you do that.
Heck, you can tell them they can't board if you feel doing so would endanger you and your vessel say due to sea conditions.

I've been boarded a number of times. In one instance I ending up handcuffed to the bow rail of a cutter sitting on a mattress with blankets for shade for 10+ hours till we were released after they determined the cocaine they found on board really wasn't ours. (The cutter did get to put snow flakes on it's bridge sides though for finding it.)

But in every instance, including that one, the CG folks were always polite but business like. In some cases they were down right easy going.

So I'd say like most situations in life, with the USCG, you get back what you give off.

Of course I'm sure there are exceptions from time to time.
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Old 06-25-2016, 09:55 PM   #12
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Boarded last year, all of my documents and equipment were right on top of my stack so the inspection was fast and they appreciated not having to wait while I searched for required items. It's a pretty superficial inspection, so they are unlikely to actually look for anything unless they are looking for something specific. I know what my shortcomings are and they never found them, I would make life easy for them and myself by complying...
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Old 06-25-2016, 10:14 PM   #13
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Well OK, other than having several posts warn me not to be an *******, I guess I didn't really get my question answered. Be polite and compliant. Sure, duh! But I guess no one here really knows the actual answer if indeed there is one to be had. Which is what level of cooperation is required as I asked such as physically making access to the party for inspection such as lifting up heavy tables, and deck sections over the eng room etc. No intention of trying to be a "sea lawyer". I will confess it does irk me and I know I am not alone in this, that our 4th Amendment protections under the Bill of Rights do not extend to being on a boat! I had thought I might learn something other than "be nice", LOL! Sort of.
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Old 06-25-2016, 10:17 PM   #14
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So far no luck with your question Puget. A phone call to the local CG office might give you a quick answer.
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Old 06-25-2016, 10:26 PM   #15
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Read up on exactly what the USCG can do for a safety and compliance "inspection" boarding.....it is far from a "search" of your vessel.

It irritates me that people always bring up the fourth amendment like they carry it around I their wallet, complain about the USCG having the ability to ignore it...but the have never researched exactly what the USCG can and can't do during a boarding. It is no where close to a warrantless search.

The answer to your question is.....yes you have to make available the spaces they are allowed to search. They usually can look into man sized compartments or bilge areas without major rearranging of a boats interior. If you know an easier way for them to inspect what they need too...just tell them. Bottom line is no they don't expect you to do anything you are not physically capable of doing. But if you say you can't access your engine room when cruising...they may pull the BS flag on you.

I did say similar tips back in post 5.

Capt Bill is also correct that requesting the boarding be done differently for safety is a good idea, won't always work...but get it on the radio at least so it may be recorded.
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Old 06-25-2016, 10:44 PM   #16
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If a hatch is too heavy for you to lift easily, ask them for help.
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Old 06-25-2016, 11:02 PM   #17
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I'll take the USCG over our local Sherriff dept any day! Got an apology from local Sherriff. One of their all about him pulled me over because he has a news crew and needed a story on the TV! They learned their water Sherriff didn't know the rules when I complained, but unfortunately the news got a shot of my daughter in a bikini...holiday weekend. Was so unprofessional and I followed up to his boss and got the apology. Bring on the USCG that are very professional and they can look wherever, I have no issues.
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Old 06-25-2016, 11:03 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 78puget-trawler View Post
Well OK, other than having several posts warn me not to be an *******, I guess I didn't really get my question answered. Be polite and compliant. Sure, duh! But I guess no one here really knows the actual answer if indeed there is one to be had. Which is what level of cooperation is required as I asked such as physically making access to the party for inspection such as lifting up heavy tables, and deck sections over the eng room etc. No intention of trying to be a "sea lawyer". I will confess it does irk me and I know I am not alone in this, that our 4th Amendment protections under the Bill of Rights do not extend to being on a boat! I had thought I might learn something other than "be nice", LOL! Sort of.
Your scenario simply is not going to happen. I've been boarded many times on deliveries and on my own boat (probably due to the Canadian Flag). They are not going to ask you to do anything but stay out of their way. Any hatches or heavy lifting they want to do themselves. This is a simple matter of self protection for them. I even had one vessel "arrested" on a delivery and still had a laugh with the heavily armed guys that boarded me. In every case They were at worst business like and polite, more usual is friendly and helpful.
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Old 06-25-2016, 11:04 PM   #19
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I just spent some time looking this up on the CG site but no real answer there either, other than comply. Interestingly it did say that the max fine for refusing to be boarded was $500. It also said as expected that the courts have upheld their authority to board, which we already knew. And no I don't carry the Bill of Rights around in my pocket so don't be so easily irritated. It is in fact a warrantless search. If the cops came into your home without a warrant and opened all your drawers and closets, and went thru all your stuff what would you call that? Right, its called a warrantless search, illegal. So other than the fact that the CG has historically been able to get around it what would else would you call it? Its a warrantless search unless there is reasonable suspicion to believe that something illegal is happening inside the home or on a boat or wherever. Just that in the case of the CG it does not apply. While it may be true that unless they become suspicious while on board, or find enough minor violations to search further, they still had to board/enter a privately owned residence, if only a temporary one to find this out. That doesn't fly on the beach does it? And I can lift any hatch on the boat, just curious if when they board my boat, if there is a legal obligation for me to do so. Really didn't expect this thread to go this way at all.
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Old 06-25-2016, 11:06 PM   #20
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Thank you boatpoker, that is more of the kind of reply I was looking for.
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