Tips to Avoid the Holiday Police Dragnet on Chesapeake Bay (Blog)

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Okay, it is no mystery that perhaps the worst time to misbehave on the water (or anywhere, for that matter) is over a holiday. But even the best intentioned of us manage to forget that we’re likely being watched during these festive weekends, which can result in a boarding.

Truth be told, curmudgeons like me stay at home on holiday weekends to relax on the patio, barbecue some ribs, or pick some crabs. Being out on the water with the rest of humanity’s weekend warriors is about the last place on earth I’d like to be. Unfortunately not all of us have the luxury of opting out of holiday activities with relatives or friends, however.

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Since the U.S. Coast Guard, Virginia Marine Police, Maryland Natural Resources Police, and Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife, and North Carolina Marine Patrol have all announced that they’ll be making saturation patrols this weekend, it’s probably not a bad idea to discuss some on-the-water survival tactics if you’re going to be out and about this weekend in Bay Country. With that in mind, here are some tips for staying out of trouble with the law this weekend:

  • Travel far off the beaten path. That’s right; get out of Dodge. Marine police departments concentrate where the action is, so holiday weekends are probably the best time to exercise your gunkholing and hermit skills by avoiding popular ports, anchoring out, and avoiding the status quo.
  • Limit alcohol consumption underway. Remember, it’s all about probable cause. If a police officer sees you chugging a craft beer at the helm, it’s all the reason he or she needs to stop your sundowner cruise and look for other, more serious infractions. Besides, you really shouldn’t be chugging anything as the operator of a vessel, anyway. Likewise, make sure your guests aren’t playing beer pong in the cockpit, either.
  • Tell your guests to put a clamp on it. Yep, if you have family or friends aboard, you’ll want to tell them to let you do the talking if you get boarded. My usual spiel goes like this: “Now since it’s a holiday weekend, there’s a chance we’ll get boarded by the marine police or Coast Guard. If it happens, I need each and everyone of you to let me speak, and keep your thoughts to yourself. That means you, uncle Harold.”
  • Registration, license, insurance. You renewed your boat’s registration, right? What about your crabbing or fishing license? This is the type of amateur stuff law enforcement will be looking for and chances of you getting nailed for being forgetful are highest on holiday weekends.
  • Get geared up. Make sure your boat has all of the necessary (and required) safety gear aboard such as flares (check to be sure they’re current), life jackets, sound-making devices, etc. If you get boarded, they’ll ask to check for these items.

By all means though, have fun. Just be aware that your chances of encountering a boarding goes way up on a holiday weekend. The key is making yourself much less noticeable than the rest of the crowd by lying low, and yes, behaving yourself. Good luck out there, happy Memorial Day.

 There ’s a high likelihood you’ll see a scene such as this this holiday if you’re out on the water, but following a few simple guidelines can make a boarding uneventful. (Photo by Maryland NRP)

There ’s a high likelihood you’ll see a scene such as this this holiday if you’re out on the water, but following a few simple guidelines can make a boarding uneventful. (Photo by Maryland NRP)

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