The unlicensed head boat Fishing Lady was taking on water June 19, after being banned from operating due to a previous sinking. Photo: Grasonville Volunteer Fire Dept./Facebook

Illegal Fishing Charter Captain Arrested for Dangerous Boat Conditions

U.S. Coast Guard special agents arrested the operator of a unlicensed fishing charter boat out of Kent Island, saying he endangered 34 passengers through his gross negligence.

Terrance Dale Roy, operator of Fishing Lady, could face up to six years in prison for each of his two felony charges, plus up to one year in prison for his single misdemeanor charge.

Coast Guard Investigative Services say Roy violated a USCG Captain of the Port Order when he took 34 paying passengers out on the head boat Father’s Day weekend—despite the fact that he hadn’t made necessary repairs after Fishing Lady sunk at a Kent Narrows pier back in May.

The Captain of the Port Order banned the boat from operating commercially “until the vessel’s seaworthiness was determined by Coast Guard professionals.” Sure enough, on the Father’s Day weekend excursion, Fishing Lady began taking on water that couldn’t be emptied using the boat’s bilge pumps, USCG says. Grasonville and Kent Island volunteer fire department marine units rescued all three dozen people on board.

Grasonville Volunteer Fire Department said in a Facebook post on June 19, “At approximately 9:30 am Fire/Rescue Boats from the United Communities Volunteer Fire Department, Kent Island Volunteer Fire Department, Grasonville Volunteer Fire Department, Maryland Department of Natural Resources – Natural Resources Police and U.S. Coast Guard Station Annapolis, Maryland responded to the area of Tilghman Point in Eastern Bay for a Charter Boat that was taking on water…” The fire department went on to report that the people were safely offloaded to Wells Cove, and the captain got help in towing his boat there as well. One person was taken to the hospital for a cardiac evaluation.

As a result of the incident, Roy is accused of failing to properly report a hazardous condition as required and operating his boat in a “grossly negligent manner.” The Coast Guard also found additional violations, including operating without a license and without proper documentation for commercial service.

Apparently this charter boat has been in trouble with the Coast Guard before. According to a 2014 Coast Guard press release, the Fishing Lady was removed from service that year, too, after it was found to have numerous safety violations and was taking passengers despite another Coast Guard order.

“Illegal passenger vessel operators pose a significant danger to the public and adversely impact legitimate operators who comply with federal safety requirements,” said Cmdr. Baxter Smoak, chief of prevention for Coast Guard Sector Maryland-National Capital Region.

Smoak cautions anyone who pays for a charter to do their homework. “Before you step off the pier and onto a boat as a paying passenger, you should ask to see the captain’s license and, if they carry more than six passengers, request to see their Certificate of Inspection. By departing the pier without correcting the grossly unsafe conditions, the operator [of Fishing Lady] put 34 passenger lives in grave danger.”

A federal district court judge will determine the sentence, if Roy is convicted on any of his two felony and one misdemeanor counts.

If you suspect someone is operating an illegal charter or passenger-for-hire boating operation, the Coast Guard asks you to contact your nearest command center:

Sector Delaware Bay: (215) 271-4940

Sector Maryland-National Capital Region: (410) 576-2525

Sector Hampton Roads: (757) 668-5555

Meg Walburn Viviano