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Discussion Starter #1
So I'm having a few drinks with a friend talking about retirement to a life of sailing and maybe keeping a small apartment/condo here in the states as a home base. He has no clue about sailing, cursing, etc and listened very carefully as I talked about living aboard, island hopping, and maybe even extended voyages east or west.

He looked me square in the eye and ask "What are you running from ? ". I had nothing. I said, I'm not running from anything, I'm "running" toward a different lifestyle. This is how I want to spend my last years.

He was not convinced. My friend of 30+ years perhaps out of folly threw this at me...
"Well, they cant extradite you from international waters".. WTF? I've never even thought along these lines... but now I am.

So this post is to ask about maritime law and vessels in international waters. Let's say for giggles I raked in millions from some "illegal" scheme, was close to being caught, and didn't want to pay for my crime. Or for that matter was caught. Whatever.

If I was sailing most of the time in international waters, taking my chances by mooring somewhere to get supplies, and slipping away again quickly... could someone avoid the "long arm of the law" in this fashion.

I've just been intrigued by this since the other night. Is it possible to "round up" criminals when they are in no specific jurisdiction?

Sorry but I had to ask. This is by far the craziest question about my "dreams" I've ever been ask so I had to share.

Cheers,
MZr7
 

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Perhaps the distinction should be made between extradition (a treaty obligation of one country to turn over alleged criminals wanted by another country -- think Roman Polanski) and seizure. If the alleged crime is big enough, the state will take an interest in seizing the perpetrator and commit resources commensurate with its interest (how much did you get away with? how badly do they want to make you an example?).

That being said, twenty years ago it may have been remotely possible to fade away, thirty years ago more likely. Developments in communications technology have shrunk the world to the point where it would be damn hard to find a safe haven.

As a practical matter, my boat sails on average at 7 knots; cutters and destroyers routinely do 30+, and they have big guns and aircraft. Outrunning the authorities isn't very likely, at least in the long term. At any rate, since the passage of the Patriot Act, the US government seems able to seize anyone they wish, when and wherever they wish. It does sound like an interesting plot for a novel, though. Cheers,
Ed
 

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I am guessing that the obverse would occur and international waters would hold no protection for you as a wanted crim. As an American, your government would just do what it needed in order to get you. Collateral damage - so what ! Watch out for mushroom clouds - you know, one flash and you're ash!
just jokes
 

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I am guessing that the obverse would occur and international waters would hold no protection for you as a wanted crim. As an American, your government would just do what it needed in order to get you. Collateral damage - so what ! Watch out for mushroom clouds - you know, one flash and you're ash!
just jokes
they don't seem to be applying that logic to pirates though.....
 

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A very wet Dog, The Bounty Hunter would show up on your boat when you least expected it!
 

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I looked in to this some time ago when on a UK registered vessel and had heard reports of aggressive boarding by the US authorities in International waters.

Yes my boat was essentially and extension of the UK while I was a UK flagged vessel in International waters and that theoretically I could refuse to allow an inspection team aboard in practice they just contact the UK and they obtain some kind of permission to board me whether I wanted to or not.

Might be an interesting question to ask of a vessel flagged in a country that did not cooperate with the US.
 

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I have heard anecdotal evidence of US vessels doing this, but never from anyone to whom this has actually happened. I suppose the question is "how international" - if a boat is just outside of US waters it is a different matter than if it were cruising in the south pacific and boarded; and whether it is a private vessel or a merchant marine or commercial one.

Luckily the International Court of Justice has its seat in Den Haag, not in the USA :)
 

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Maze, were you out yesterday? I saw a guy in a 22 +/- footer that kind of looked like you - but the boat might have an Ensign. I couldn't quite tell.

If it was you, I should have just arrested you. You've obviously got some nefarious cruising plans, dude.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Maze, were you out yesterday?
No, had the SO's kids this weekend. However with that front blowing through and winds in the 30ish range right now, I plan on leaving here shortly and getting out this afternoon for a little fun.

And sorry, no deviant plans in my future. Like I said, I've never been ask such a question and really never considered it. I've really enjoyed all the responses as it was something interesting to think about.

Cheers,
MZr7
 

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Now you're talking! I'm watching the trees whip around a bit outside my office. Makes me itchy.

Have fun out there dude.
 

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The US has standing agreements with many countries giving the right to board on the high seas. I'm sure the UK is one of them. Otherwise the State dept contacts the other nation's state dept. I've been through this procedure from the CG end. Before there was an agreement with Columbia, I was aboard a Cutter that went step by step increasing force levels until we fired on a Columbian flagged vessel. The final authority message was signed by the secretary of state. The vessel was finally stopped by machine gun fire. She carried tons of marijauna, pounds of cocaine, and about ten immigants in addition to the crew. Their skipper was game until I wrestled him to the deck and my shipmate stepped forward with a night stick.
In addition to treaties, every warship of any nation has the right to approach a vessel at sea to determine her nationality and cargoe. This goes back to the days of old pirates.
 
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