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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest > General Discussion (sailing related)
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  #11  
Old 07-08-2009
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Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
Unfortunately, some people with a badge allow the power it gives them to go to their head...and become an A$$hole with a badge... and tarnish the reputation of the good people they work with.
I think this reason, more than any other reason, is why our founding Fathers thought it wise to have the second amendment. If only the gov't and its enforcement officers are "armed" - then there is absolute power.

Like everything in our gov't, there needs to be a check and a balance to the executive branch's power to "enforce" laws by overstepping their bounds. That is an armed populace.
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  #12  
Old 07-08-2009
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The laws all seem to say it is illegal to "operate a vessel" while intoxicated. I do not think a court would interpret being at anchor "operating a vessel."
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Old 07-08-2009
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Well I can see this as a vague area of interpretation. The problem with drinking while at anchor is that if you pull free you are now underway. If you are skippering the boat while drunk and this happens you could be too intoxicated to make the correct decisions that would be the correct maneuver(s). I could see it being a huge problem if several boats were rafted and everyone had been drinking.

I would tend to say that a mooring would be considered an OK place to drink but if you are just putting down the hook for lunch or overnight you should keep it below the legal limit so you can keep your wits if there is an emergency.

Here on SF Bay I find it kinda funny that the CG runabouts (where 99.9% of their activities are to aid in recovery of kiteboarders, sailboarders, and boats in distress) are packing double barrel machine guns on the bow. These CG runabout boats are INFLATABLE pontoon boats!! Who are they going to shoot at, where are the terrorist suspects, and don't they expect return fire if they did encounter a terrorist act?!?!? I wonder how often those guns need to be replaced due to the salt air and spray (probably monthly). Man I feel sooo much safer with those guys packing machine guns.
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Old 07-08-2009
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I heard if you have a Rocna it is legal to drink at anchor....
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  #15  
Old 07-08-2009
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What's happened to the concept of "reasonable suspicion" in conducting a search*. Ashore law enforcement officers can't stop and search someone unless they have a reasonable suspicion for believing a violation of the law has occurred. From the USCG document cited in post #6 above it seems that the CG can board and inspect vessels to "prevent violations", ie no reasonable suspicion required.

If there are any attorneys here present, can they reply to this question: Why do sailors have fewer rights than citizens ashore?

* from Wiki:
Quote:
Reasonable suspicion is evaluated using the "reasonable person" or "reasonable officer" standard, in which said person in the same circumstances could reasonably believe a person has been, is, or is about to be engaged in criminal activity; such suspicion is not a mere hunch. Police may also, based solely on reasonable suspicion of a threat to safety, frisk a suspect for weapons, but not for contraband like drugs.
-----------------------

After doing the post (aka, shooting from the hip), I did a bit of research and like it or not, it looks like the CG can conduct "suspicionless searches".

From the US Nineth Circuit in the case of UNITED STATES v. THOMPSON

Quote:
The United States has a strong interest in protecting its borders and regulating the activities of maritime traffic, an interest first recognized by Congress early in the history of the Republic when it granted Coast Guard revenue cutters the authority to conduct suspicionless boardings; authority which has been repeatedly upheld by courts. See, e.g., lace>United Stateslace> v. Villamonte-Marquez, 462 lace>U.S.lace> 579, 592 (1983); lace>United Stateslace> v. Watson, 678 F.2d 765, 771-74 (9th Cir. 1982).
Looks like if you are subjected to a "suspicionless search" whether underway or at anchor one had best have their vessel ship-shape, gear and person in order. If one is obviously intoxicated while at anchor, it seems that they might be arrested to prevent the vessel from being operated with an incapicated crew under UC authority to prevent violations of the law.

That said, the CG document cited in #6 also says:

Quote:
PROHIBITION TO SAIL -
MANIFESTLY UNSAFE VOYAGE

Under the authority of
46 United States Code 4302 and

4308


, the Commandant, U. S. Coast Guard has authorized

the District Commander to prohibit the voyage of any
vessel if he determines that said craft is unsuitable for the
intended trip. His determination will be based upon the
design, condition and outfitting of the vessel in relation to
what the District Commander deems necessary for a safe
voyage. Operator competency is NOT a factor in the final
determination. If a manifestly unsafe ruling is issued, the
voyage is terminated and the vessel will be prevented from
getting underway. The person making the voyage may
appeal.



Bottom line (?): Stay sober and keep your flares and fire extinguisher inspections up to date


Last edited by billyruffn; 07-08-2009 at 10:05 PM.
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Old 07-08-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billyruffn View Post
...

If there are any attorneys here present, can they reply to this question: Why do sailors have fewer rights than citizens ashore?
I'm not a lawyer, but my understanding is that ashore we operate with constitutional protections and precedent derived from common law, whereas on-water activities are governed by admiralty law -- a very different body of juris prudence with far fewer protections against search and seizure.
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  #17  
Old 07-09-2009
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Would not a "designated anchor watch" cover off the requirement for at least one sober operator of a vessel? A sober designated driver can, after all, transport entirely legally a van full of seatbelted drunks; in fact, this is widely encouraged. I can't see how this would be different aboard. If one person is abstaining (or "blowing legal" after a single glass of wine, say), that person is the proxy (assuming they are competent to operate a boat) for a boatload of happily snoring rum-drinkers.

Personally, I rarely drink underway, as I treat sailing like driving (and I don't drive a car). I would imbibe at anchor conservatively, because of the quite common need to maintain minimal awareness as wind and other boats "orbiting" can necessitate a 2 AM "deck check".

At dock, cooking up for a saloon table of four, I will perhaps accept a larger nightcap, but not if we are getting an early start. My experience, despite having a sturdy liver, is that a few bottles of wine at dinner and a seven a.m. cast-off do not mix, particularly beating to weather.

Law or not, I'd have to say that sailing has cut into my alcohol consumption, simply because I'm a skipper and therefore my opportunities are pretty limited. Having said that, an icy cider at hull speed on a hot day or a tot of single malt at dusk in the fall are greatly enhanced by the fresh air one gets sailing.
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  #18  
Old 07-09-2009
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Cool

It would seem to me that, with the current state of laws governing the CG, it would be prudent to be sober (at least below the legal limit), as well as having your vessel in compliance with marine laws.

What's not common sense about the above?

If you're at anchor and intending to only have lunch, you need your wits about you - stay sober. If you're at anchor and you intend to stay there for the night and move on in the morning, stay sober. There's lots of things that can and do happen that need attention while at anchor and these are all best handled sober.

If you want to surpass the legal limit for sobriety, get a slip! Preferably away from the channel or fairway so that if the CG motors by, you're not in their face.

Lastly, anyone who takes a boat out without it being in compliance and "safe" deserves to be ticketed and ostracized (preferably with a dull ostrasizer!)
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Old 07-09-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nk235 View Post
I heard if you have a Rocna it is legal to drink at anchor....
HA!
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  #20  
Old 07-09-2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SEMIJim View Post
And if "operating a vessel" includes whilst being at anchor, what about when docked? And if docked = anchored, then live-aboards can't even drink in their own homes?

Jim
This is what I worry about. The CG already has incredible powers unheard of in any other country. They can board you without cause or permission on the high seas, which in every other country in the world is the definition of piracy.

I had a quick read through some of their documents. So far I can't find a definition of "operating" as it relates to anchoring. Another point is that there is some weird crossover between state and federal laws especially when the CG acts as law enforcement. They will take the lower of the state BAC and federal limit and transfer custody of you to the local cops for example. In washington state you can get a DUI if you blow over .08 2 HOURS after driving. If that applies also to boating that could be a problem for those of us who the set of the hook IS the start of cocktail hour.

I appreciate the comments about the seamanship of maintaining sobriety at anchor, but the point, for me, is what's LEGAL? Should we drink to excess at anchor? Probably not, we could suddenly be in a situation where we need all of our faculties. Should we drink at home while cooking? Probably not, as we might set the kitchen and house on fire and need to act quickly but the difference is that nobody is going to barge into your kitchen at home and breathalize you!

I strongly prefer to be the ultimate judge of what I consider safe on my vessel thank you very much, and the jingoist laws enforced by the state get in my way and tick me off. It is entirely possible that if we find out that you can get a BUI at anchor, then we can all get them living aboard at the slip.


Case in point. It was a summer night years ago and I hopped in my inflatable dinghy with a 6 pack to float along the shore and enjoy the warm night and the moon. It should be noted that I was wearing my CG approved float coat, had a submersible VHF, 6 Ariel & 1 hand flares, a dye marker, strobe, submersible flashlight, whistle and signal mirror in the pockets of the coat I was wearing. Oh and I was tied into my boat. This entire event takes place with me floating and rowing within 100ft of shore but an operable and gassed up motor was attached to the craft.

The coast guard arrives and asks what I'm doing. I tell them I'm having a couple beers and enjoying the warm night. They didn't believe me so I spent the next 3 hours in handcuffs. Then they decide to give me a BUI test so first I get to do a field sobriety test on the floating dock, which I passed. Then while waiting for another boat with a BAC machine I ask the ensign a couple questions.

Me: "Sir, I understand the purpose of the BUI law as it keeps drunk speedboats from killing innocent people, but do you really think it reasonable to give me one when I'm rowing a rubber boat less than 100ft from land?"

Ensign: "Over 50% of boating accidents involve alcohol. The law is not only to protect others but like the motorcycle helmet law it protects people from themselves by keeping them safe." (Party line!!!!)

Me: "Hmmm... So did you know that I'm a rock climber? Sometimes I choose to go climbing solo, without any rope at all. (not true) Most would agree that that is much more dangerous than driving a motorcycle without a helmet. Why isn't that illegal then?"

At this point the ensign looked puzzled and dissapeared down into the CG boat. He returns with the ranking officer who says to me, "I understand you have some questions."

The end result? They "terminate my voyage" because the couldn't find anything wrong and their pride was hurt. I receive no paperwork at all at the time of boarding. Then a couple weeks later I get a letter from the district commander who reviewed my boarding and found that I didn't have a whistle therefore they wanted to charge me $5,000. I did have a whistle and after an exchange of letters they "let me off" with a warning.

Fast forward to 2 years ago. I come back from living overseas for 6 months to find another letter from the district commander in my mailbox. It accused me of boating without enough life jackets and threatened a $7,000fine. I wrote a snippy letter back with the details of the yard that still had my boat on the hard. The letter also contained the phrase "seeing as how the CG is now part of the department of homeland security I'm sure you are already aware that I was in Belgium at the time of the alleged violation."

Bottom line: I don't trust 20year old wanna be heros who are granted absolute power by law limited only by their "judgement". I want their powers to be properly regulated by law.

[/RANT]

MedSailor
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Last edited by MedSailor; 07-09-2009 at 07:29 PM.
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