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In the last few years, the RCMP in B.C. have started an aggressive policy of boardings and safety inspections. I have seen them go after every boat in sight. They can and will board your boat when your under way. Not always but someone gave them the legal right to do so. I have been approached twice in the last few years. Once at anchor and once underway (two weeks ago). Underway, they did not ask to board.. although they could have. It was a straightforward safety inspection and the guys were great. Friendly and obviously enjoying the day out on the water. My boat is always 100% in compliance with everything....
At anchor, they wanted to come aboard but I refused permission. Legally they need a search warrant as you are in your residence and when at a dock or anchor/mooring buoy... they have no right or permission to board your boat. The Mountie did not like being told he couldn't come aboard but a man's home is his castle and our charter of rights still has some effect.
The officer did, however, ask me if I was doing anything illegal "down there".
I didn't bother to reply. If I thought, for one second, that my charter of rights was being violated by this police officer, I would seek civil damages from that officer and go after his pension, house and bank account. It seems harsh but after 30 years of living aboard, I take my home privacy quite seriously. How would you feel in your house if the police could come into it anytime they wished. Not a good feeling.

I was told by one of the officers that in the past there was a "soft" enforcement in effect but now, if they find two items out of date or missing, you can expect some hefty fines. In the hundreds of dollars....

I feel this is waayyyyy too much policing. For whatever reason, we have to do what is being done south of the border but I certainly didn't expect Canada to turn into this type of police state. I believe the RCMP could be doing something far more useful than safety inspections at sea. As an ex cop, I hate to see aggressive, in your face tactics that are becoming the norm nowadays. I stopped going to the U.S. by sailboat years ago due to the relentless boardings. Now, the plague has come to Canada. Too bad.. George Orwell was right all along... Just a thought..
 

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Called Taxation by Police officers
 

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I have no problem with being boarded for a safety check. In fact I have even volunteered my Bertram so that a new OPP officer could be shown how it's done. But that said, a 20' Bertram is not a home.

On the enforcement side, it's a cash grab. On Georgian Bay, they guarantee you'll pay any fines by setting court dates for the middle of January in Parry Sound for those foolish enough to contest the ticket. And if it was alcohol related they (OPP) take your drivers license on the spot.
 

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The horses those mounties ride must be in really good shape from all that swimming....

Sorry, couldn't resist.
 

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Everyone knows the RCMP doing the boat inspections ride seahorses... :)
The horses those mounties ride must be in really good shape from all that swimming....

Sorry, couldn't resist.
 

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Throughout each summer, my boat is my home, and it doesn't bother me if the coasties want to do a safety check or look through it. They're polite, the amount of time taken is nominal, they don't do it often, and I never have contraband in it, but if they find contraband on someone else's boat, it's OK with me if they find it. I'm not looking for a reason to sue anyone or to take their home and pension. The intrusion might seem a big deal to some people, but not to me. A week ago, I was stopped in a DUI roadblock while driving my car. The stop was brief, the officer was pleasant, I wasn't tested, even though I had alcohol on my breath because of a drink with dinner. Maybe some drunk was prevented from hurting others that night. I hope so. It's all in how you look at it.
 

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We were stopped by an marine RCMP officer in a RIB a couple of summers ago - he was mainly doing a PFD check... This was probably the only time in over 20 yrs we were out of compliance - we had some unexpected guests for a daysail who had not brought their own PFDs as we requested, and so we were a couple short. I rather sheepishly explained the situation and was fortunately let off with a warning.

We immediately purchased a couple of guest PFDs to have on board at all times. I have no problem with these types of checks - it seems to me that only those with something to hide would have a problem.

And in the past 28 years on this coast that was the first and only time we'd been checked by anyone (police or coasties) while sailing.
 

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There's been a BC liveaboard in the news lately:


A sailor anchored outside Jericho Beach in Vancouver, allegedly painted Nazi symbols on his boat to protest the city's efforts to force him to relocate. May 29th, 2009.
Maybe the attention he's drawing to liveaboards is leading to the extra police interest?

Tim
 

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I guess everything is relative... I always find Canadian law enforcement a polite, refreshing breath of fresh air after (or before) dealing with US Customs and Border Protection. It's like a whole other world up there. I'd tell you to be grateful but if all that paranoid, wannabe tough-guy stuff is drifting north and infecting the RCMP and CBSA, I can only apologize and sympathize.

The silly thing is that all the attitude and aggression not only annoys people, but also makes a mockery of the actual security at the border. We got our usual chilly reception coming back from Canada last summer through the San Juans and when it was done, all I could think was, "What do you have to act so tough about? You couldn't even find the case of whisky in the quarter-berth!" It's more sad than intimidating... a lot of puffery from a few people who are pretty incompetent. I think it probably encourages, rather than deters, our real enemies, and just ticks off our friends and fellow citizens.
 

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It seems reasonable to me to check for contraband and intoxication, since they fall under the police's proper responsibility to protect other people from you. But fines for safety noncompliance, beyond being an obvious cash grab, are the epitome of an invasion in privacy. I'm a little bit surprised that so many Canadian boaters don't see anything wrong with these boardings.

The fact that the police are very polite isn't relevant; politeness is the least you ought to expect from people whose function is to use violence against you to get what they want.

If people don't actively protect their own privacy rights, those rights will be taken away, and they won't even notice. At first.
 

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I guess everything is relative... I always find Canadian law enforcement a polite, refreshing breath of fresh air after (or before) dealing with US Customs and Border Protection. It's like a whole other world up there.
To be honest my experience has been, uniformly, the other way around. US customs seems to have a bad rep as far as I can tell. That said, on my last marine crossing into the US, when I checked in, the border guards -- very politely -- refused to send somebody to the dock for an inspection, and then, the next morning, sent two very polite guards to issue me a warning for not checking in right away. So yeah, my confidence in them is not particularly steely either.
 

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SM

Unfortunately, your observations are all too correct!!!

I once told a TSA airport guy he couldn't find dog dung if he stepped in it!Somehow, I got away with it.

...a lot of puffery from a few people who are pretty incompetent. Give some folks a gun and/or a badge and they go nuts!!!
 

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It seems reasonable to me to check for contraband and intoxication, since they fall under the police's proper responsibility to protect other people from you. But fines for safety noncompliance, beyond being an obvious cash grab, are the epitome of an invasion in privacy. I'm a little bit surprised that so many Canadian boaters don't see anything wrong with these boardings.
Adam

The RCMP do have this responsibility.

From the Safe Boating Guide:

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police
(RCMP), provincial and municipal
police forces and other authorized local
authorities enforce the laws that apply
to boats. They may inspect your boat
and monitor your boating activities to
make sure that requirements are being
met. This may include checking for
safety equipment, your Pleasure Craft
Operator Card and careless operation
on the water.
Two guys just drowned this weekend in AB. No pfds.

I have been sailing on the BC coast for 25 years. I have never been boarded.

Jack
 

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Because I have a bit of a hooligan look on me, I've been pulled over on the water three times, always in my Zodiac, never on the sailboat. I'm so in compliance that they start rolling their eyes when I produce the heaving line and the signalling mirror, never mind the hand flares.

I've found Canadian cops on the water pretty polite and non-intrusive. I've found U.S. customs officials less so. Frankly, a lot of them seem like armed mall cops and about as bright. By contrast, I've found New York City beat cops helpful and polite, as well as some cops in Florida, where they don't have the best reputation.

To be fair, however, I prefer dealing with American customer service people on the phone for the many things I seem to buy in the nautical line. They generally seem more engaged and better trained than Canadian places, where you can get dopey, if not actually rude, service on the phone. In a time where the customer can use the Internet to quickly source deals, this is short-sighted.
 

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Way to go

Count me in Johnvye's camp. If you are under way, then they have the right to request to board and inspect. However, if you are at anchor, and they ask to go on a fishing expedition, then you have every right to refuse.

"Pardon me, but are you willing to waive your protection from unreasonable search and seisure, so that I can look around, and possibly fine you or impound your vessel. It won't take long, and if we find something, we could really use the money. Think of this as a service." :puke

I applaud johnvye for knowing and standing up for your rights!:cool: :cool:
 

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Rights of Border Officers?

Once when returning to the US from Canada (my boat is a Canadian registered boat moored in the US - Point Roberts, where 95% of the marina is filled with Canadian boats), after we cleared Customs via the phone using Nexus, we were waved into the Custom's dock by an irrate official as we were passing by. We did exactly as we were instructed by the Officer on the phone, which was to write the last 5 digits of the clearance number on a large piece of paper, and displayed this on the way by the dock.
The official on the dock (after we docked), then told us they were boarding our boat, and we were not allowed on board during this "inspection". I did not feel comfortable with this (not being allowed on my own boat to watch his inspection). Does anyone know my legal rights under these conditions? I know they have the right to board and conduct an inspection, but do I have the right to witness this inspection (or not)?
As it turned out everything was fine, and I was told by a different officer that I had done everything right, so not to worry.
Thanks,
Tom
 

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I feel this is waayyyyy too much policing. For whatever reason, we have to do what is being done south of the border but I certainly didn't expect Canada to turn into this type of police state. I believe the RCMP could be doing something far more useful than safety inspections at sea. As an ex cop, I hate to see aggressive, in your face tactics that are becoming the norm nowadays. I stopped going to the U.S. by sailboat years ago due to the relentless boardings. Now, the plague has come to Canada. Too bad.. George Orwell was right all along... Just a thought..
For the longest time when returning to Canada from Point Roberts I never had to produce any documents (passport/Nexus) to return home they simply asked a few questions and I was on my way. Then they started asking for a passport so after a few times I asked why, since it was not a historical practice. The officer explained that he'd be remiss not to admit that American policy was the influence, apparently Canadian customs has been heavily influenced by American policies and are expected to appease the American Gov't through compliance of their expectations.
As for the puffery displayed by American customs officers, it goes with the job, they are all like that and your best defence is to simply mollify them best you can or suffer the consequences. Yes they can get heavy handed and any belligerance will ony antagonize them further so just play along and make them feel good or they will threaten to confiscate your Nexus card. I get it from them all the time.
 

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The fact that the police are very polite isn't relevant; politeness is the least you ought to expect from people whose function is to use violence against you to get what they want.
It's probably more accurate to say "willing to use violence to overcome resistance to a lawful process." It generally takes two to fight.

As for the puffery displayed by American customs officers, it goes with the job, they are all like that
really?
 

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It takes two to fight, but I would not blame anyone for resisting legal process. Nothing illegal about displaying resistance... most of the time.

Moreso, it is their function to use violence to get what they want. I for one, do not respect it. For instance, the Seattle police recently beat a 14 year old girl, and sent an innocent man into a permanent coma in 2 seperate incidents.

This is what makes the news!

Yes, one can reasonably say that they are all like that. I hate customs officers, they are stupid and self assured ass hats.
 
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