Honorable Candice S. Miller
House of Representatives
10th Michigan Congressional District
508 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Ms. Miller:
I am writing you on behalf of the Lake St. Clair based sailing
fraternity and in particular as a representative of the Detroit Regional Yacht-Racing Association (DRYA). As you know, DRYA is a regional yachting association which administers competitive sailing under the auspices of United States Sailing Association, the national yacht racing authority. DRYA is comprised of several hundred members, thousands of
member club boaters, and is in many circumstances the voice of sailing in southeastern Michigan.
Over the last several years and in particular since eptember 11, 2001 our flag officers and administrators have met with various representatives of the United States Coast Guard (USCG), Department of Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), United States Customs and the Detroit Port Authority. We have been advised of certain initiatives
as a result of Homeland Security measures. In the spring of 2002, the Department of Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) sent agents to several Detroit area yacht clubs for the purpose of facilitating the issuance of CANADIAN BORDER BOAT LANDING PERMITS, commonly known as
I-68. Hundreds of local sailors applied for and received the I-68 cards. At that time there was significant confusion and
misunderstanding regarding who actually had to have an I-68 card. We were never given a clear definition as to what "landing" in Canada actually is. We obtained conflicting answers and the net result was that we should all have I-68 cards. Apparently INS has a different set
of rules than does Customs. The Coast Guard could not answer what should have been simple questions. The 2002 sailing season passed without any incident and I do not know of any local sailors who were boarded or otherwise inspected for I-68 cards. During 2003 there was little talk of I-68 and again no enforcement action was experienced.
We have recently met again with representatives of INS, USCG and the Port Authority. They have told us the following:
o boats will be boarded frequently
o all persons on board must have an I-68 card if they have "been in Canada"
o the burden of "not being in Canada" will be on the skipper and crew
o being in Canada might include sailing in Canadian waters and certainly includes anchoring in Canadian waters and/or touching Canadian soil
o if all persons aboard any vessel do not have I-68 cards the vessel may be impounded and/or fines may be levied
As you may know there is no practical way to "check in" on the American side of Lake St. Clair or the Detroit River. There is no official "entry point" except at the Detroit - Windsor Ambassador Bridge and there are no facilities for landing a vessel at the bridge. The closest "check in" venue is on Mackinac Island or maybe Port Huron. It is
impossible to "phone" in as the INS and Customs do not have personnel to visit the hundreds of vessels which might venture into Canadian waters on any given summer day. Canadian officials have devised a simple, logical and easy to use call in system to land their American friends.
It is difficult to understand why we do not have a system that works so boaters can comply with reasonable rules and regulations.
While we all appreciate the need for HOMELAND SECURITY we have been unable to identify the real purpose of an I-68 card, other than to raise revenue. I-68 cards are very inconvenient to obtain and it is impossible for us to make certain that all of our crew and guests have I-68 cards. The way we understand potential enforcement, I will be unable to invite a neighbor to dinner on my boat unless they have an I-68 card. It is impossible to know who has been in Canada or not and as the burden is apparently on the skipper, the situation becomes dogmatic.
We fail to understand the purpose of the I-68 card. It seems a passport or other positive ID would serve the same purpose. Why do we need something different than what is required to cross the boarder by automobile?
Last year there was virtually no enforcement action. This year we have been TOLD that there will be very active enforcement and everyone is being warned to have everyone on board to have a card or they will be
detained and the boat impounded.
The boating community needs your help. The laws and regulations together with enforcement procedures need to be changed. The law is not practicable or understood.
I would appreciate hearing from you so we might further discuss this issue. Additionally, we would be pleased to provide you with a forum to address this issue publicly. The boating community from the GREAT LAKES
John S. Barbour