Sunday, August 14, 2016

MLS Seamanship Series - Fines for Running Charters Without a License

USCG Licensed Captain Steve Hale



The fines are stiff if you are caught charging passengers a fee (consideration) to go out on your boat without being a USCG Licensed Captain. How does $10,000 per occurrence sound? And to make matters worse... If you are not enrolled in an approved random drug testing program you can add another $5,000 for each day you are caught doing so. Well it’s true!

Unless you are independently wealthy and enjoy giving money to the U.S. Government this is a practice one should certainly consider long before getting caught.

“They won’t catch me” you say… Well most people running illegal charter businesses are caught because they run their operation out of a marina where there are other “legal” Captains are running their business. If they see you filling your boat while they sit on the dock you can bet it will not be long before they drop a “dime” and give the Coast Guard a call.

Now that you have this new found knowledge would you like to know how the Coast Guard regulations define a passenger-for-hire? If so read on...

On December 20, 1993, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Passenger Vessel Safety Act of 1993. This law clearly defines what a “paying” passenger is considered to be. This law can be found in Title 46 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations and in part states:

Definition of Terms
Consideration means an economic benefit, inducement, right, or profit, including pecuniary payment accruing to an individual, person, or entity but not including a voluntary sharing of the actual expenses of the voyage by monetary contributions or donation of fuel, food, beverage, or other supplies.
Passenger means an individual carried on a vessel, except
(i)                  He owner or an individual representative of the owner:
(ii)                The master;
(iii)        A member of the crew engaged in the business of the vessel who has not contributed consideration for carriage, and who is paid for on-board services.

Passenger-for-hire means a passenger, for whom consideration is contributed as a condition of carriage on the vessel, whether directly or indirectly, flowing to the owner, charterer, operator, agent, or any other person having an interest in the vessel.

What does it all mean?
If you and your friends go out on a fishing trip together they can share the fuel, food, and bait expenses without being considered a passenger-for-hire. This would also apply if you were doing a sunset cruise with your friends or family. The key element here is that in each of these cases the time spent out on the water is with friends and family who have gathered socially.

Take the “social” aspect away from these scenarios and things change significantly. Some of these differences are clearer than others. For instance, if you were to purchase a ticket to ride a ferry or fishing boat this is clearly an example of being a “paying” passenger. However, what if you were a salesperson taking clients out on their boat with the intention of building a business relationship with the expectation that they will receive some sort of “economic” benefit in the future? In this case, even though no money was exchanged during the trip; those passengers are still considered, under the rules, to be for-hire thus requiring the salesperson to be a licensed Captain.

Even with these regulations in place “sea-lawyers” love to read between the lines and argue the true meaning of these regulations. Penalties for making the wrong decision can be quite severe. The law is clear. How you choose to interpret these regulations is up to you - But why would you want to take the risk?

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10 Comments:

At September 14, 2016 at 2:52 AM , Blogger jacsan45 said...

I think this part of the law stinks. I am in a power wheelchair and the Coast Guard will not give me a captains license because of my disability. They say I cannot service my customers correctly and safely. I disagree because I have 2 mates that can preform this work for me. Presently, the only people that I will consider taking on a charter our veterans of the US military. I do not charge a single dime for this service. All I want to do is show these veterans a good time on the water and to catch some fighting fish. The only thing I asked for is a glass jar labeled: donations for fuel only! If they want to donate to the cause that is fine if not, that is okay too. I just want to give back to the military veterans and that is the only way I can think of.

 
At September 19, 2016 at 1:27 PM , Blogger Captain know it all said...

I think it is a good thing to have a license..I worked very hard for mine.. many years and lots of money..so should the people who are taking others lives at stake to make a dollar..

 
At December 12, 2016 at 10:08 PM , Blogger Quennie Belle said...

These provision of law can affect people in two ways, that being favorable and not. To licensed captains, its good for them because they deserve it for the hard-work. To the "NOT", it's better to not risk it. If you are not one of those rich people on Yachts then do not risk it. Thanks for the share.

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At January 10, 2017 at 10:09 PM , Blogger Bella Steel said...

Having a license can really be beneficial. Besides working hard to earn it, you have learn all the expertise that you need to be a good captain, just like the stories I read via MyPaperWriter.com rating.

 
At March 30, 2017 at 2:37 PM , Blogger San joseph said...

They say I cannot service my customers correctly and safely. I disagree because I have 2 mates that can preform the Dissertation Proposal this work for me. Presently, the only people that I will consider taking on a charter our veterans of the US military. I do not charge a single dime for this service. All I want to do is show these veterans a good time on the water and to catch some fighting fish.

 
At June 12, 2017 at 9:20 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

I have six kayaks and a trailer and would like to give tours of local waterways to paying guests. Do I need a captain's license if I stay on freshwater rivers and streams? What about if I take them to barrier islands via intracoastal waterways?
Everyone must wear a life jacket and I have a whistle connected to each life jacket. We will not be out after dark.

 
At June 21, 2017 at 8:26 AM , Blogger Backfincrabcake said...

jacsan45 - you use the word "Charter" consistently. This is what gets you in trouble. You are not licensed, so you can't take a "charter" and to assert you are 'chartering' places you outside the law. The word "charter" imputes consideration. Under your circumstances, you are just taking friends or acquaintances on a "cruise." Using the wrong terminology can get you in a heap of trouble!
CHARTER DEFINITION: [t]he reservation of an aircraft, boat, or bus for private use. "a plane on charter to a multinational company"
synonyms: hire, hiring, lease, leasing, rent, rental, renting

 
At August 8, 2017 at 6:37 AM , Blogger Cassandra said...

More bullshit government interference! "Sea Lawyering" wouldn't be necessary if not for all these fucking regulations!
If I have to worry whether taking a client out on my 22' sailboat consists of chartering, what's the fucking point of having a boat on my dock?
Running pleasure boaters under will not serve the country or the industry.
BTW this is a sketchy tactic you're employing to sell an online program.
Any ass-hat can sit in a chair in front of a computer.
Try actual sailing for your training!

 
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At November 28, 2017 at 8:55 PM , Blogger Jose H Russell said...

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