The U.S. Coast Guard requires that all commercial passenger vessels, regardless of their size, conduct a safety briefing prior to getting underway.
This requirement is in place regardless of the number of passengers that you have on-board your vessel and also applies to OUPV/Six-pack charters. This orientation can be done by the Captain or qualified crew member.
The nature of this instruction varies somewhat among vessels, but all briefings are required to cover the following topics:
- Stowage Locations of life preservers.
- Proper method of donning and adjusting life preservers carried aboard your vessel.
- The type and location of all lifesaving devices carried on the vessel. (Life Floats, Life Rings, Buoyant Apparatus, Fire Extinguishers, EPIRB, Ditch Bag, etc.)
Since many OUPV/Six-pack charters are run solely by the Captain it is also a good idea to review the operating procedures of the VHF-FM marine radio with the passengers. As an additional safety measure install a distress call placard near the radio that includes instructions and distress channels to be used in the event that the captain becomes disabled. Also, explain where the first aid kit and flares are kept.
In today’s world it is not a wise business practice to just meet the “minimum” U.S. Coast Guard regulations if you are running commercial charters. Unfortunately, there is an entire industry of victims, investigators, and lawyers, whose livelihood depends solely on supposed safety violations. The more you can do to protect yourself the better off you will be in the long run. Keep accurate records of all passengers that you take out and be sure to note any special circumstances or injuries that may occur during your trip. Be sure to discuss any additional guidelines or safety rules that relate specifically to your boat that would ensure a passenger had a safe journey while on-board.
Always remember – What can go wrong will go wrong – Some day!