Regulatory Compliance

Every week I get requests for my availability as captain for a “charter” to take out paying passengers.  This is followed up by a couple of questions from me:

  • Does your boat have all legally-required items?
  • Have you taken out paying passengers in the past?
The answers to these questions are very often “yes”, and that’s when my next questions reveal the fact that 90% (my number) of the boats being used as either 6 pack UPVs or bareboat charters are doing so without being fully compliant.  Some with minor missed items, and many with major violations.  And the penalties can be severe, with civil penalties of $60,000 or more for non-compliance.

If at least one passenger pays to be aboard, then your boat is considered a “passenger vessel”.  Period.  If it is a typical recreational type of boat that is used for charter (and must also be endorsed for Coastwise Trade…), then it is considered an Uninspected Passenger Vessel.  There is a long list of required items including country of manufacture, required gear, operational processes (such as drug testing), and so on.  Maximum passenger count is six for vessels under 100 gross tons, and twelve for UPVs of 100-300 gross tons.  Licensing is required for the captain.  See more info here.

If the vessel is an Inspected Passenger Vessel, then the maximum passenger count is determined by the Coast Guard-issued Certificate of Inspection (COI).
I provide services to inspect your boat and your processes to make sure you are completely legal – these federal laws are enforced by the U.S. Coast Guard.  Many of the items can be bought (like proper fire extinguishers) but many others (like a MARAD waiver, proper COD endorsement, proper FCC radio licensing or drug testing program) take some effort to make sure you comply.
Make sure you are legal – you do NOT want to get in trouble with the law out on the water.

The 42-foot motor vessel, Breaking the Habit near Sea Isle Marina, Florida. The vessel’s voyage was terminated by the Coast Guard for the second time in less than a month due to multiple violations, and the captain faces upwards of $91,000 in civil penalties.