Machine gun pointed at boater in safety zone

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South Carolina boater Lenny Spears was motoring toward Drum Island for some fishing with his sons last week when he suddenly found himself staring down the barrel of a machine gun.

Spears said a well-armed Coast Guard boat raced out to intercept him Dec. 30 in the Cooper River as he passed by a container ship docked at the Columbus Street terminal. Crewmembers pointed a mounted machine gun at him and his two teenage sons while grilling him about his intentions, he said.

Spears, 50, said the crew informed him that his 18-foot boat had crossed into a 500-yard safety zone surrounding the container ship. That was news to him. There were no signs alerting boaters to the zone and the Coast Guard boat was in the ship's shadow as he approached, Spears said.

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