Join Date: Jan 2007
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As a non-us citizen who resides in United States a person could most certainly buy a boat here in US, and register it using state registration just like he would register a vehicle. This is perfectly fine for sailing within US waters and often works ok for nearby islands like Bahamas. My first boat was state registered, back when I wasn't a US citizen. Worked out just fine.
Coast Guard documentation requires vessel owner to be US citizen, on the other hand (and is presumably preferable for sailing to far away lands, but how often does that happen?).