Federal law enforcement investigators inspect a sailboat seized at the Bar Harbor Municipal Pier on Friday, June 3. ISLANDER PHOTO BY MARK GOOD

Sailboat searched by Customs

BAR HARBOR — The sailboat Margi III was on a mooring in Southwest Harbor on Wednesday morning, five days after an investigation was launched into the failure of the captain and crew to report a stop in Canada before arriving in Bar Harbor after a voyage from the Caribbean.

The three people aboard the boat, who authorities have not named, are not in custody, according to Sean Smith, public affairs specialist with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The vessel has been “detained,” not seized, by the CBP.

The captains and crews of any vessels arriving from international waters are required to report their arrival in the United States or Canada. Failure to report could result in fines, imprisonment or both.

Charlie Phippen, Bar Harbor’s harbormaster, said he arrived at work around 6:30 a.m. on June 3 to find the crew of Margi III tying up at the town dock. He said he notified CBP. The captain and crew – two men and a woman – said they had come to Bar Harbor from Shelburne, Nova Scotia, after sailing from the Caribbean island of Martinique.

The arrival of Margi III might have been unexpected to Phippen, but the CBP was aware of the alleged violation in Canada, according to Jamie Frederick, chief of response for Coast Guard Sector Northern New England.

“They [CBP] had information that the vessel did not declare in Canada,” Frederick said. “We had information from Canada that the vessel was on its way to Bar Harbor.”

U.S. Coast Guard law enforcement personnel assisted the CBP with a search aboard Margi III while it was tied up at the Bar Harbor Town Pier. Authorities have not said what they were looking for or if anything of interest was found. On Friday evening, the Coast Guard towed the sailboat to Southwest Harbor, where the vessel was put on a mooring near the Manset Town Dock.

The Coast Guard is no longer involved in the investigation, Frederick said.

The CBP investigation continues, and as a result, the agency is not releasing further details at this time, Smith wrote in an email.

Under federal law, failure to report is a civil violation punishable by a fine of $5,000 for the first violation and $10,000 for each subsequent violation, with the vessel subject to seizure and forfeiture. Any captain convicted of intentionally committing a violation is liable for a fine of not more that $2,000, imprisonment for one year or both.

Mark Good

Mark Good

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Mark Good

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