In these times of heightened security, boardings of recreational vessels by the USCG will increase and will be primarily random in nature. Boarding will definitely be more likely if the recreational vessel is suspicious in any way.

FLY YOUR CLUB BURGEE. This will help identify you and may reduce your exposure to being boarded.

If a recreational boat is affiliated with a yacht club, then the Coast Guard will most likely determine that the boat is not worth boarding unless the boat is in restricted waters or is otherwise behaving suspiciously.

From the San Francisco Chronicle, 9/30/01:

“Boaters along the coasts are being … asked to fly colors if they belong to a yachting club, as a signal that they are a legitimate part of the seafaring community.”


Because of recent events, there will be heightened security in and around San Francisco Bay and Delta. The following guidelines are designed to help you avoid being part of a security situation.

1) NAVAL VESSEL PROTECTION ZONE: Following the recent terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Area is establishing Naval Vessel Protection Zones effective from Sept. 14, 2001, to June 15, 2002. The zones will provide for the regulation of vessel traffic in the vicinity of U.S. naval vessels in the navigable waters of the United States.

a)    OPERATE AT MINIMUM SPEED: All vessels within 500 yards of a U.S. naval vessel must operate at the minimum speed necessary to maintain a safe course and proceed as directed by the official patrol.

b)    NOT ALLOWED WITHIN 100 YARDS: Recreational and commercial vessels are not allowed within 100 yards of a U.S. naval vessel, unless authorized by the official patrol.

c)    PUNISHMENT FOR VIOLATING: Mariners who violate a Naval Vessel Protection Zone are subject to arrest, prosecution, and if convicted, imprisonment for up to six years and a fine of up to $250,000.


a)    OBEY RULE 9. Be sure you stay well clear of any large vessel whose movement is restricted by its size. Keep at least 500 yards (1/4 mile) from any commercial vessel. This is extremely important in crossing situations.

b)    NARROW CHANNELS: In narrow channels, keep as far to the side as possible when approaching or being approached by a commercial vessel. Do not make any abrupt course changes or other maneuvers that may concern the ship’s pilot.

c)    ANCHORED VESSELS:  Maintain a 500-yard distance from any commercial vessel at anchor or on- or off-loading cargo.

d)  DO NOT ANCHOR IN CHANNEL: Avoid anchoring in or near shipping channels. Vessels anchored in these areas are more likely to be boarded by the Coast Guard or other law enforcement agencies.


a)    KEEP WELL CLEAR OF SENSITIVE AREAS. These include, but are not restricted to bridge towers, refinery docks, anchored vessels, and military installations such as Port Chicago. If you have any doubts about a particular spot being regarded as sensitive, assume that it is.

b)    AIRPORTS AND RUNWAYS. Keep a minimum of a ONE-MILE DISTANCE away from these areas. Violators are subject to arrest and up to a $5,000 fine.

c)    FLY YOUR CLUB BURGEE. This will help identify you and may reduce your exposure to being boarded.