Every boater knows what this means. We were crossing the Strait of Juan de Fuca on Saturday and saw them nearby boarding a Cruise-A-Home looking boat. They stayed there a very long time. Then they went around us, off to the west (toward their home base in Pt Angeles) and boarded a small sailboat.
I looked around and realized we were the last boat in the area. Don’t get me wrong, we had no concern being boarded, but were just having a nice quiet day. I had finally given up on sailing when the wind dropped down to 4 knots and we were slowly motoring north. So I thought “If I go hop in the shower now they’ll for sure come to our boat, so instead I’ll take a nap in the cockpit sun and they’ll finish that little sailboat and continue west and go home”. Sadly, not to be.
So two Boarding Officers come into the cockpit and start asking for documentation. I provided our current Coast Guard documentation (we are a federally registered boat, which makes life easier when we’re offshore checking in to foreign ports) and passports. Then one Officer asks to go below and do the inspection, so since I’m there I stay to show him the things on his checklist.
There were quite a few more things he looked at that weren’t even on this list. He wanted to see lifejackets, of course. And also our flares (I had bought new ones so we had some that weren’t expired), horn, sewage tank, and fire extinguishers He wanted to see in the bilge, midship and forward. If you recall a few posts earlier, that bilge is all nicely freshly painted – I bet he hadn’t seen one that clean on an old boat like ours in forever! And he cared a lot about our prescribed meds. He looked in my medicine cabinet and examined my one-a-day vitamins and my allergy pills, then wanted to see Rob’s prescription bottles.
We had no violations, and expected none. And all would have been just dandy, all except his mask. Do you see in every picture that his mask is not covering his nose. And worse, when we were belowdecks (in a very tiny space), his phone rang twice and he took off his mask to talk on it. I had to ask him twice to put it back on, and then he would only put it below his nose. Rob & I have been SO CAREFUL about not getting covid. We isolated at home starting March 3rd, and have been in contact with exactly 11 people in those nearly 5 months. 11! I have written to the CG folks in DC and asked how often they test their boarding officers and how they could possibly, in the name of public safety, go belowdecks with people over 60 and not keep their masks on. I hope I hear back soon, because I will keep asking them the question until I get an answer.