Coast Guard Cracks Down on Illegal Boat Charters

The Coast Guard is patrolling Chesapeake Bay waters for commercial boat charters violating safety regulations—some who don’t even know they’re breaking the rules.

This past Friday, Coast Guard Sector Virginia and Station Little Creek stopped a boat rental charter near Broad Bay in Virginia Beach. A USCG crew boarded the boat for a recreational vessel safety boarding, and found at least three serious violations that warranted terminating the voyage, the Coast Guard says.

They fell short of some requirements of the federal Passenger Vessel Safety Act. The charter boat did not have a valid Certificate of Inspection. The vessel was not “under direction and control of an individual with an appropriate Coast Guard license.” And the marine employer was not conducting chemical testing of vessel operators.

USCG says the people chartering the vessel were unaware they were violating safety regulations. The Coast Guard says these safety laws are in place for the well-being of everyone on the water.

Coast Guard Sector Virginia will continue to make routine boardings of recreational boats. USCG Facebook photo

They will continue to make unannounced boardings on recreational boats and any boat they suspect are operating illegally as passenger charters.

The Coast Guard reminds anyone who is thinking about using their boat as a passenger for hire operation that the captain must hold the appropriate USCG license, the captain and crew must be enrolled in a drug and alcohol program, and if the charter includes more than six passengers (and at least one is a paying customer) then the boat must have a valid Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection.

There are also specific rules about bareboat charters and the rights of the charter guests in choosing their own captain and crew. A maximum of 12 passengers plus the charterer are allowed on board, not including the crew. The vessel’s owner may not be on board the boat at any time when the boat is being chartered.

To report potential illegal passenger vessels, please contact the Sector Virginia Command Center at 757-483-8567 or through CGIS Tips (Tip Form: ).