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I respectfully gave the vessel’s name, and documentation
number and last port. As I got my reply read back to me, I
realized they intended to ask more in-depth questions and
would likely board, so I responded that I was up against the
tide times for transit of this location, that I was concerned
with the shoaling reports and my position relative to those
points, and that I’d be happy to have them come aboard later
as we progressed at a slow bell.
The response (from what I could tell was a well-trained
boarding officer) was, “Captain, I completely understand.
Safe travels, and if we need to revisit, we will.” They had the
basic particulars of the vessel, and they could run that into a
database, and if a red flag appeared, they could return, or we’d
be boarded later in our transit.
NO SHARED DATABASE
Back to the Hudson River. A large part of that problem was
due to the inability of municipal agencies to share vessel
data. The Coast Guard can usually upload boarding data
to be shared within the agency pretty quickly, but there’s
this black hole of information sharing between municipal
agencies and the Coast Guard. Locals can obtain information
from the Coast Guard on an individual basis but there is no
A shared database might be the answer in theory, but
establishing and operating a shared nationwide database
for the sole purposes of maritime enforcement is costly and
comes with questions about who maintains the systems.
The usual answer in these discussions is the Coast Guard,
perennially underfunded and constantly tasked with ways
to do more with less. I can say with almost absolute
certainty that during its next budget review, there would
be cuts to the operating budget, and the system would
If the act of being boarded is
egregious—if it makes you
want to tell your friends and
post it on the Internet—then
please make your opinions
known in a forum where
they can make a difference.