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Old 05-23-2007, 07:38 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Lighthouse View Post
US Regulations For Yachts Vary From State To State

Important information HERE
Note that the Noonsite article title is misstated. Be careful what you read, or how it is interrupted.

US Regulations in general do not vary from state to state. Federal Regulations usually apply to all states equally. Although there may be exceptions, only one comes to mind, having to do with the flying of the Texas state flag.

In addition to Federal Regulations, individual states can and do enact, and enforce their own laws. State laws can not diminish, relax, or be less stringent than Federal Laws but can add to, and be more stringent than the Federal laws, additionally create laws where there is no federal reguatlion.

In the article, Canadian Citizen Warren Chafe had different experiences in the states of North Carolina and Florida with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), {Federal Officials} and how they enforced the Federal Regulations. The article includes a different situation involving Steve Dashew visiting the state of Washington, and his experiences with Washington State Laws.

Analyzing this, Warren Chafe was accustom to “more accommodating CBP officers” in North Carolina, than those he encountered in Florida. Those in North Carolina were aware of and applied US Customs Directives and the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), to his situation. I am curious, and there is no mention in the article, if he pointed out these laws to the officials in Florida. And if he did, what their response was.

This is an issue of unequal enforcement of equal laws; fundamentally and technically different than the article title implies. None the less, it still is a problem. Why it happened, I do not know. It should not have.

This is probably not much different than the behavior of other officials else where. For example, one officer ticketing a speeding motorist going 1 KPH / MPH over the limit, while another turns a blind eye to speeding at 10 KPH /MPH over the limit. Or in a recent board discussion, which port of entry cost less to enter the Philippines.

Noonsite has recently been informed of two incidents which indicate that foreign yachts visiting the US must be aware of how different officials in different states may interpret the rules as well as state-specific regulations that can impact on your stay!
It is not up to Law Enforcement Officials to interpret the law. It is their duty to be knowledgeable of and enforce the laws of their jurisdiction. Ideally they would know the complete code “law library” as it applies. Ethically it would be enforced equally. It is up to the judicial branch, the court system, to “Interpret” the law.

On the practical side, if the law was incorrectly enforced in Florida, I am not sure how exactly that would have helped Warren Chafe, given his situation, given a Permit to Proceed, by CBP, from Point A to Point B. If he wanted to dispute the federal law, he would have to appear in federal court. Meanwhile his permit did not include an intermediate stop at Point A and 1/2. If he made an issue of it, potentially the likely stop would have been jail, until his day in court.

In the other and un-similar case of Steve Dashew, he encountered the Laws of Washington State.

It appears he is upset, because:

1. This ruling has been enforced haphazardly in the past. We got picked up because we chatted with Vessel Traffic Control who asked us if we had a pilot aboard.”

2. It cost him $300. for a brief visit.

The laws are what they are. People must be aware of them. He is perhaps fortunate in that he was not in compliance with either having a pilot on board or having an exemption in his possession, and being allowed to obtain one after the fact, without incurring a fine.

Thinking about this, his situation, and the Washington State requirement for a pilot aboard ALL non US or Canadian yachts. I think people would accept this, if there is good nautical reason to have a pilot aboard. It gets really fishy, when they add the "OR" part; OR pay a fee for an exemption.

.....So what became of the justifible reason, (maybe safety) of having a pilot?

.....Collecting revenue removed the hazards that the experinced pilot was there to prevent collision with?

....Is this law in place to employ pilots needlessly, OR collect revenue if one chooses not to hire a pilot?

With my current level of awareness, (and I may not know the details), I do not blame him at all for being upset, and taking his business to Canada.

The whole issue of visiting the US, and complying with its’ Federal Regulations, 50 different State Laws, one Federal District (Washington D.C.), and several Territories, may seem overwhelming and un-daunting. How is a visitor to know the laws and the requirements? The system is complicated. Having some understanding of our system, it becomes much less of a problem.

Visitors will encounter Customs (property import/export) and Immigration (people, visitors).

US Government Web Sites:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)


United States Citizenship and Immigration Services


Department of Homeland Security


US State Department


Cruisers need to be aware of US Coast Guard regulations, and the boat laws of the states they visit.

US Coast Guard (USCG) Home Page


US Coast Guard (USCG) Office of Boating Safety

Federal requirements and safety tips for recreational boaters


The states boating laws can be found here:

USCG Reference to State Boating Regulations


Clicking < Down Load > redirects to


Another Source {Boatsafe} with Reference to State Boating Regulations


Arriving by boat, this may also be helpful:




Fair Winds,


When in doubt, do the right thing.

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Old 05-23-2007, 07:51 PM   #16
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Thanks for all the info.


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Old 05-23-2007, 11:55 PM   #17
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It's tough for a foreign vessel to encounter some of the problems noted above. It also happens to US citizens on US boats in the US.

While sailing down the East coast when we first started cruising, we were boarded by the US Coast Guard, and cited for not having the standard warning about discharge of oil, and also for not having suitable life jackets (PFDs) on board. We had lots of PFDs, but they were all French, certified by France. Because Watermelon is a French-made vessel that was sold to our friend in the US after being sailed her by the French.

When we arrived in Beaufort, NC, we immediately went out to buy two USCG-approved life jackets, and the plaque regarding oil discharge.

We were boarded a second time a few weeks later as we sailed to Florida, and this time we showed the boarding officers the previous boarding receipt, and showed them that we had corrected the noted problems. The officer commented to his fellow-officer about the life jackets, "I wouldn't have cited them for that."

Florida has passed a law prohibiting local municipalities from restricting the rights of transient boats from anchoring, with specific exceptions. Nevertheless, at least one municipality, Marco Island, Florida, has been in court against a man who tested their regulation that a boat cannot be anchored in Marco Island for longer than 12 hours, contrary to state law. Nuts.

The framers of the US constitution made sure that states' rights were written into the constitution. It does tend to make things interesting in this country.

In 1986 we went cruising for a few years. After 20 years and 50+ countries and several oceans, we are STILL "cruising for a few years".

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