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Ohio boaters irate about boardings

The Great Lakes water levels might be dropping, but the level of resentment over increased random boardings of pleasure boats on Ohio’s waters has apparently hit a record high. The result is a call to the Ohio General Assembly for a change in the law.

The Ohio action isn’t surprising. It follows neighboring Michigan, where precedent-setting legislation passed earlier this year becomes effective in November. That law essentially prevents any random stopping or boarding of a pleasure boat displaying a safety inspection decal unless there is a clear, documented indication of an ongoing illegal act.

Boaters in Ohio have since pointed to the Michigan action (Ohio and Michigan share portions of western Lake Erie) and have begun a concerted push for a similar law. Random boardings in Ohio have been unreasonably increasing, boaters say, to the point where boats are stopped and boarded multiple times during the summer, sometimes even on the same day.

“[Boat owners] are telling us they’re fed up and they want a law to stop what they believe is total overkill,” says Ken Alvey, speaking on behalf of the Boating Associations of Ohio. “It’s gotten to the point where boaters don’t even want to leave their harbors because law enforcement is waiting just beyond the harbor entrance. They say this kind of hassle simply isn’t worth the ride out there.”

Reps. Rex Damschroder, R-Ohio, and Dennis Murray, D-Ohio, will reportedly co-sponsor the bill, which will resemble the Michigan law but with some marked differences. This bill will provide that law enforcement agencies can stop vessels only upon reasonable suspicion of illegal activities or as a part of an authorized checkpoint.

And unlike Michigan’s law, Ohio’s would not require the issuance or display of any decal. The bill is expected to get very strong support from boating organizations throughout the state. The two districts represented by Damschroder and Murray have more registered recreational boats than any other area in the state.

Michigan’s Candice Miller honored

Congratulations to Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., on being singled out for the Guardian of Small Business Award by the National Federation of Independent Business.

Now in her fifth term in Congress, she has an outstanding record of support for recreational boating issues along with small business in general. Her parents own a marina in Michigan, she is a member of the Congressional Boating Caucus and a past recipient of the Legislator of the Year Award from the Marine Retailers Associations of the Americas.


10 comments on “Ohio boaters irate about boardings

  1. shine

    People of Ohio, you have a choice in November. Please (not just for your own sake) vote for more freedom, less government.

  2. craig

    This is the bad police mentality doing this and the officer who is in charge should be questioned. Do these police use the threat of law and jail as they check these boats? How about randomly inspecting his home to see if he is in compliance with all the building codes, which are for safety, like electrical, stair railings, etc?

    And for those who read the guy who couldn’t resist using this as a political forum, how about if we eliminate all laws against dumping solid human waste into the Ohio Lakes, or any waters, for that matter? After all, according to him, that would be more freedom, right? Can’t swim in those waters anymore, but according to him it’s more freedom. Get rid of building codes, too. That’s more freedom, right?

  3. Doug Reimel

    Congratulations Ohio, This will help stem the abuse of Authority on the state level. Sorry to say it will not stop the multitude of Federal Authorities that are patroling the waters and must justify their existance. You can get pulled over in the Detroit River by U.S Coast Guard, Homeland Security, Border Protection, Border Patrol, U.S. Customs, I am sure I missed someone and apologize for not recognizing a Federal Agency, all doing their job and not communicating with each other. Keep in mind I have not mentioned the State Agencies, the local agencies or the Canadian Agencies. All Killing the boating business one regulation at a time. Government is the Problem, American are the solution.

  4. Doug Reimel

    Hurray Ohio for joining the Great State of Michigan in the pursuit of Freedom. Unfortuneatly these laws only apply to the State and Local officials. The federal agencies do not take orders from the states. U.S. Coast Guard, Homeland Security, Border Protection, Border Patrol, and U.S. Customs all have a different directive and do not communicate until directed by circumstances. Write your cngressmand and senators in Washington D.C.

  5. Rosemarie Terriere

    This is a clear Violation of the 4th Ammendment to our Constitution. Illegal searc and seizure. Clearly Gestapo tactics are increasing in every aspect of our lives. warrentless searches are illegal. People are becoming afraid to speak up.

  6. Doug Reimel

    Amazing, Five Federal agencies doing exactly what the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Customs use to do. This is reality on the Detroit River. In a seven mile stretch you will get pulled over by each and every Federal Agency (5) in that same stretch. Now add to that the state and Local agencies working the same 7 mile stretch. All asking the same questions, justifying their jobs. I have sold 8 customer boats this year alone who no-longer boat because of the constant boardings. So multiply that by the other shops and your customer base is depleated by very people who you pay taxes to support to kill your business. That is not good for anyone.

    If you are the person who is not responsible, and you need protecting from yourself, then you get what you deserve. Government is the problem, it is to big and to intrusive, they will absolutely ruin a great day on the water.

  7. Lynn

    Check with a Maritime legal professional. I am under the impression you don’t have to let them on-board. I live in state and coastal waters that have the Coast Guard present. The CG will only board if they are invited aboard or suspect something. Sounds like law enforcement in OHIO has some lessons to learn.

  8. Bill

    Each and every one of you who are accusing law enforcement of violating your rights should first know your rights before speaking. Maritime law is a completely different legal situation that requires unique laws and actions. I guarantee that not one of you has ever been stopped by more than one agency in a single season. And if you have been stopped more than one, if you provide your sticker thet agency will thank you and move on. If you knew your maritime law you would know that there is no fourth amendment violation in what these agencies are doing.
    As for Lynn’s statement that the Coast Guard will only board your boat if invited, you couldn’t be more wrong. They are not vampires. The Coast Guard can stop any boat at any time and perform a safety inspection. And rightfully so. The U.S. does not require boaters to obtain a boating license other than your basic safety course so anyone can get out there and put all other boaters at risk. And then when a boater gets themselves in trouble they blame the Coast Guard or the local agencies for not being there to hold their hand through their own idiocy. You should all be ashamed of yourselves for grand-standing online when you have no idea what you are talking about.

  9. SAC

    “I guarantee that not one of you has ever been stopped by more than one agency in a single season.”

    That is a ridiculous claim. Since the Coasties and Homeland security have authority to board for any reason…and within 100 miles of the border, how could you be so sure? I do know someone who was checked by Homeland at Lake Erie Metro returning from a fishing run in the Detroit River. Less than a month later, his vessel was boarded for a “safety inspecition” by the coasties in Ohio. That’s two agencies in one season.
    As recent as last November(2012), multiple vessels in Ohio Reported being boarded by the Coasties and HLS in the same day….and same week, and therfore same season in the Port Clinton/Marblehead region.

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