Got boarded by the Coast Guard today.

This is a discussion on Got boarded by the Coast Guard today. within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Today was just a beautiful day in Tampa Bay. So, I decided to take the wife out in our offshore boat, but she wasn't very ...

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Thread: Got boarded by the Coast Guard today.

  1. #1
    Distinguished Member Array GunGeezer's Avatar
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    Got boarded by the Coast Guard today.

    Today was just a beautiful day in Tampa Bay. So, I decided to take the wife out in our offshore boat, but she wasn't very enthusiastic about the idea and truth be known, she was my last choice. My usual fishing buddies were otherwise occupied today. After much begging and pleading, I agreed to make it a short day and instead of out in the Gulf, we'd try one of my secret spots along the shipping channel in the Bay. It's about a 20 min. ride from our dock.(a lot of "no wake areas") Grouper has been particularly hot lately in 15-40 feet of water.
    Well, about half way there, following another boat in a narrow channel, I noticed a Zodiac filled with men run up to the boat in front of me and we all had to slow and they drifted to the edge of the channel. When I pulled over to slowly pass them, I noticed small, flashing blue lights on a bar toward the rear of what basically is an inflatable with an aluminum hull and a large outboard. Other than the orange colored tubes, there was no markings indicating who they were and I joked to my wife about being boarded by Somali pirates. There were about 6 men crammed into this inflatable, all dressed in swat team black, complete with flack jackets and side arms. Two of the men boarded the pontoon boat I was following and the inflatable ran beside me and the driver ordered me to throttle back and prepare to be boarded. At no time up to this point did they identify themselves, so I didn't really know if they were police or Coast Guard.
    Two men got aboard my boat and one asked me when the last time was that I had a Coast Guard inspection. I told them, I thought it was last year sometime and I figured this was just another courtesy exam where they check life preservers and fire extinguishers. The next thing the guys asks is if I have any weapons aboard. My basic boating bag contains an EPIRB, sun glasses, my cell phone and wallet. I also have a S&W stainless M-60 and several boxes of shotshells. I carry it mostly in the event we encounter an over aggressive sea creature, finned or two legged that needs shooting. I also keep a few self-defense loads.
    Being legal, I told him I had a pistol and in answer to his question said it was loaded and where it was located. He asked me if I was an LEO. I said no, but I had a concealed carry permit. Then he told me to control my boat because we were drifting out of the channel and into very shallow water. He said he didn't want to be responsible for me running aground. He asked to see my drivers license and registration which was in my wallet in the same bag as my gun. I got my wallet and showed him my drivers license and CCP. He said," not necessary" to the CCP and handed me back my drivers license. He then went on to check every possible thing that could be looked at on a boat. 2- fire extinguishers, flares, horn, whistle, life jackets, toilet dump valve, every compartment. He checked everything off on a check list. It seemed as if he was doing more fishing than I was. At the end, he said he had to cite me because by toilet flush valve wasn't secured in the proper position. I told him we don't use the toilet because the boat is a center console and only a skinny midget could get into the compartment where the toilet is. I showed him that we use the area for life jackets, rain gear and charts. He looked down at the valve and could see the old zip-tie that just rotted away and the valve was in the proper position. He said he had to cite me anyway and most likely nothing would come of it. He said the report goes to a judge and , though not likely, I could be fined up to a thousand dollars. At this point I was getting a bit perturbed but I smiled and tried to be pleasant. That's when he gave me a copy of the report and told me he was going to get off my boat and he would hand me back my gun with the bullets removed and I could not re-load until he had gotten back into his craft. I didn't even see him take my gun from the sea bag or un-load it. That really hacked me off. I guess the Coast Guard doesn't recognize the 2nd amendment, CCP's, or much of anything else, but they can give me a thousand dollar zip-tie violation. I used to sympathize with the Coast Guard for getting their budget cut every time the government is short of change. I watched these guys stop every boat I could see all along the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, into Tampa Bay on both sides of the bridge. They ran 2 inflatables from a pretty large Coast Guard Cutter anchored in the middle of the bay. They never gave me any reason for the stop. I felt like I was in a communist country. What is this country coming to? They never asked about a fishing license or whether or not I had any fish on board. Next time I'll think twice before I tell them I'm carrying!
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  3. #2
    VIP Member Array tkruf's Avatar
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    Well, they weren't the fish and wildlife service so they don't care about fishing license, or if you have fish. If they searched the boat like you said, like they were fishing more than you, then they would have found your gun that you "would have not declared to them when asked if you had any", and they would have been pretty upset about that. Then you would have been in bigger trouble.

    I do however agree, that it seems they are hassling everyone, and I agree that they should have let you slide on the toilet valve. You made it quite obvious to him you didn't use it. He could have cut you some slack, but he's out to write a ticket so they can earn the money that had been cut from their budget.

    This makes me imagine, how we would like it if Law Enforcement were to set up road blocks, pull over "every" car going through and "search" every car like they did your boat. Everyone would be screaming rights violations, wouldn't they?

    Sorry to hear about your experience. Guess today just "wasn't" the best day to take the boat out, was it?
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  4. #3
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    Years ago, I was a training officer in the USCGR on the Great Lakes...we didn't pull this kind of toro feces...I can say no more.
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  5. #4
    Member Array 3rik's Avatar
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    What a bummer. I can see several things wrong with this. I hope that citation dissolves for your sake.

    I really don't like the idea of him handling your weapon unannounced and behind your back. Pretty straightforward disrespect, badge or no badge. I'd be keeping it on my person from now on.

    But it sounds like you handled the situation very well - thanks for sharing.
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  6. #5
    Ex Member Array BikerRN's Avatar
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    Welcome to the New World Order.

    I'm not going to say he should've let you slide on the Toilet Valve, but I think a written warning would've sufficed.

    Biker
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  7. #6
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    It sounds like you handled the situation accordingly with tact. Nice Job. I am a boatswain mate in the CG and participate in boardings so maybe I can shed some light on the situation as you have told it. First things first, there is no probable cause that has to be present for a CG or Federal LEO to board your vessel. United States Code allows the CG to board US flagged vessels on the high seas and foreign flagged vessels in waters of the US without cause to ensure maritime safety, security, and enviromental protection as well as to enforce all treaties and laws that are applicable to the US. ( this goes back to the days when Alexander Hamilton started the Revenue Cutter Service to charge taxes and tarriffs on the traders and rum runners to the caribbean) Secondly, I AGREE with you that he should have identified himself as a CG boarding officer and advised you that he was stopping you to conduct a boarding as allowed by law as opposed to just asking when the last time was that you were boarded. As far a the weapon goes I can see your point but from LE and tactical standpoint I can see why he didn't tell you that he was unloading your weapon. (Land based LEO's do this all the time as well). As far as the MSD (Marine Sanitation Device) goes, you have to have it locked down in the closed position when you are inside the demarcation line or the appropriate distance from shore-its just that simple. may I suggest a stainless steel padlock, it is rust resistant and it is truly a lock. I am sure that you never use that head however you are the MASTER of a seagoing vessel and the boarding officer doesn't know that you weren't dumping sewage nor does he know whether or not you were bound for sea. Being the MASTER of a seagoing vessel means you are inescapably responsible for the safey and regulatory compliance of your vessel, crew, and passengers there of - even if it is a recreatonal boat. As far as the ticket, the federal magistrate will look at the charges and decide if they are worth prosecuting. - I agree with your boarding officer , probably not. If I were you, i would lock my MSD with a stainless steel lock and be done with it. I hope that this helps!!

  8. #7
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    Hope they don't burn ya to bad on the citation, what happens if your out on the water again and you get a different coast guard wants to board the boat again ? Good luck with it GG
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  9. #8
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    We have no idea what kind of threat chatter is happening on their radar. They have to protect our points of entry and being on the gulf coast, there are many points along the coast some nogoodnicks can enter. Just because you appear to be innocent American citizens does not mean you are not part of smuggling in bad stuff. I'd cut them some slack.

    Yeah, maybe he was a hard nose about the violation, but giving them a hard time gets you know where fast. Also, not declaring your weapons when asked would be more than slightly frowned upon when they are discovered during their inspection of your vessel.

    I feel bad you got hassled, but not a lot of sympathy. Again, we have no idea if they were acting on some recent intelligence going on in your area or not. They are just doing another thankless job that someone has to do and are constantly hassled and berated when people feel they are being put upon.

    I think they do an impossible job, with a tiny budget, professionally, and are often used inappropriately as a pawn for politicians with big ego's.
    NONAME762 likes this.
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  10. #9
    VIP Member Array Guantes's Avatar
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    I don't like "sneaky" by cops or anybody else with LE authority.
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  11. #10
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    A question for those that are enlightened. We don't have any Coasties to deal with other than Coast Guarde Auxiliaries which have NO LEO authority at all and that is only because the Arkansas River comes under Federal Jurisdiction that they are even involved.

    I am a member of the boat patrol here for the county Sheriff and I have boarded many boats and done various inspections. I know that if you are carrying a weapon on board, you must inform the LEO's. To my knowledge it has never been an issue. On the other hand, even though we have a nice boat complete with blue lights, radios and a big star decal on both sides of the bow, complete with large letters that says SHERIFF on it, we still identify ourselves when boarding. It's a simple thing and we do it even though we wear uniforms that are obvious. We say " Hello,we are officers so and so from the Sheriff Dept and we are here to check whatever. This puts any doubt to rest.

    I know of no law here that required a CHL holder to disclose to any one other than an LEO.

    First Question:
    Are the Coast Guard considered LEO's and are they state certified? Are they marked as such, do their uniforms show it?
    If so, why did they not identify themselves as such?

    It seems to me that they need more training in communication skills. As for a rotted ty wrap coming off, it is true that the Captain of the vessel is responsible for the condition of his craft and ignorance is no excuse. However, If all things were in order and it was obvious that a ty wrap was rotten, I'd would have just gave him a warning and told him to get if fixed.

    As for the gun thing, I'm not sure that many here would even recognize them as LEO's, especially if they failed to introduce themselves.
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    New Member Array seaaircapt's Avatar
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    Yes we are adjudicated and deputized as Federal Law Enforcement Officers with arrest, search, and seizure powers. We dont wear a "badge" as you guys know it but we wear on our PFD's and tactical gear the coast guard ensign which is considered the badge for our purposes under federal law. I dont know why the guy didnt identify himself. I would hope that he did and it wasn't heard due to engine noise, etc. I agree with a "warning" on the MSD as well but we don know how this skipper reacted to or treated the boarding team. just like a traffic stop for you sir, the skippers demeanor and attitude goes a long way towards the outcome of a boarding. I cant speak for other states but in NC I have to disclose to the LEO (state or federal) that I am a CCW permit older if I meet that LEO while he is exercising the duties of a LEO.

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    Senior Member Array JohnK87's Avatar
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    It's been years, but in the Navy my cruiser carried a CG law enforcement detachment on board. In international waters they can board and inspect ANY U.S. flag vessel without cause, and we did. One day we boarded Joan Croc (of McDonald's) 240' yacht.

    It's a pain and they should have announced who they were and what the were doing. I don't have that big an issue with unloading your pistol until they are away. They need to ensure their safety too.
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  14. #13
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    Yes we are adjudicated and deputized as Federal Law Enforcement Officers with arrest, search, and seizure powers. We dont wear a "badge" as you guys know it but we wear on our PFD's and tactical gear the coast guard ensign which is considered the badge for our purposes under federal law
    I guess the coastal states are probably more familiar with that and understand it. We dont get that here.

    I understand the traffic stop analogy, on the other hand, we dont go through peoples vehicles unless we have a dang good reason, one that will stand up in court and although I understand perfectly why you do what you do, it doesnt make it any more palatable for one to get searched and treated like he is guilty of something. A little communication goes a long way here, and lack of it just usually makes it harder for everyone involved.

    Being boarded by anyone, for any reason, tends to piss a normal red blooded American off.

    Some stranger goes through your entire boat and then tells you that you could get a 1000 fine for not having the valve of the toilet secured but not to worry about it?

    Yeah, I'd probably be ticked too.
    NONAME762 likes this.
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  15. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by GunGeezer View Post
    I guess the Coast Guard doesn't recognize the 2nd amendment, CCP's, or much of anything else, but they can give me a thousand dollar zip-tie violation. I used to sympathize with the Coast Guard for getting their budget cut every time the government is short of change. I watched these guys stop every boat I could see all along the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, into Tampa Bay on both sides of the bridge. They ran 2 inflatables from a pretty large Coast Guard Cutter anchored in the middle of the bay. They never gave me any reason for the stop. I felt like I was in a communist country. What is this country coming to? They never asked about a fishing license or whether or not I had any fish on board. Next time I'll think twice before I tell them I'm carrying!
    Years ago, I was a training officer in the USCGR on the Great Lakes...we didn't pull this kind of toro feces...I can say no more.

    Welcome to the NEW Coast Guard, now under Homeland Security. Their new policies undoubtedly come from the top.

    I think life was better with the USCG under Treasury.
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    Member Array Angry Bill's Avatar
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    I got an idea, why doesn't the coast guard patrol that lake on the Texas / Mexico border where the civilian got murdered? That whole scenario smacks of a Waste of taxpayer time and money if you ask me. That'd be enough to make me sell my boat (I don't have one). They're expensive enough as is without a $1K ticket.
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