Unlike a vehicle traffic stop, at sea one cannot pull over and sit there anxiously awaiting the wrath of the officer on duty. At sea one maintains slow speed and heading until the Coast Guard vessel comes tight alongside with guns and fenders deployed in equal measure.
A good Coastie helmsman does not wish to destroy your hull or paintwork, and hopefully will not even touch your vessel. In our case two young officers in nice big boots leapt across the foaming gap onto Jupiter while their Law Enforcement Special Purpose Craft shadowed us off our port quarter for the duration of the vessel inspection.
This morning we awoke in a tranquil anchorage at Spencer’s Spit, Lopez Island. As we departed, a USCG Defender with blue lights flashing approached at speed. We were boarded, inspected and released with nothing worse than “Very Cooperative” noted on the Report of Boarding, a flimsy sheet that might inoculate Jupiter against a repeat inspection for at least a year.
“One of the biggest misconceptions boaters have about Coast Guard boarding teams is that we need probable cause to conduct an inspection…”Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class John Sifford