Originally Posted by SEMIJim
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?
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.