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Coast Guard Warns Public About the Dangers of Illegal Charters

December 30, 2019 | Category: Boating Accidents | Share

“Florida has a beautiful coast that attracts many boating enthusiasts. Our legal boat charter companies are doing a wonderful and safe job protecting their passengers and giving them a good time out on the water. However, the U.S. Coast Guard warns us of the dangers of illegal charters, and we wish to share this information with you,” said Naples Boat Accident Attorney Randall Spivey of Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys P.A.

Coast Guard Warns Public About the Dangers of Illegal Charters - Spivey LawCoast Guard Chief Warrant Officer John Colon told a group in July 2019 that consumers need to know what they should look for before becoming a passenger on a charter boat. “Anytime you rent a charter vessel, you should ask some specific questions,” said Officer Colon.

  1. Ask to see the captain’s license. A license shows the captain operating the charter is well trained, meets a minimum level of safety, and has been educated on emergency procedures at sea.
  • Charter boats must be operated by someone who holds a valid, Coast Guard-issued Merchant Mariner's license or credential, and the captain must have the license on board.
  • "Most people get what we call the Uninspected Passenger Vessel Merchant Mariner's Credential that allows them to take up to six. Any boat carrying more than six passengers must be operated by someone with a Master's license,” said Officer Colon. 
  1. Expect to receive a safety tutorial before the boat gets underway to ensure you know where the life jackets are located and other safety procedures. 
  1. See whether a current Uninspected Vessel Examination decal is on display. That indicates the operator of a boat carrying six or fewer passengers has had his or her boat voluntarily examined by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary to ensure he or she has met all applicable codes and requirements. The owner has agreed to maintain the boat in the same condition from the date of the examination. The decal is placed in a visible area on the boat, typically in the pilothouse area. Having a properly licensed operator also lets passengers know there are certain legal or regulatory requirements that are expected to have been met.
  • For example, if children under 90 pounds are allowed aboard, a charter boat needs to have personal floatation devices of the correct size for them.

In October 2019, the U.S. Coast Guard terminated an illegal charter off Fort Myers Beach. Officers boarded a private vessel and found it was operating as a charter boat illegally in San Carlos Bay, according to a Coast Guard press release. When inspecting the boat, officers discovered it was not in compliance with multiple regulations, including carrying more than six passengers, not having a valid certificate of inspection, failure to have a drug and alcohol program, and not having a valid stability letter.

“If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident because of the negligence of another, please contact our legal team to assist you. We are available 24/7, and there are no costs or attorney fees unless we make a monetary recovery for you,” said Attorney Spivey.


Naples Boat Accident Attorney, Randall L. Spivey is a Board Certified Trial Attorney – the highest recognition for competence bestowed by the Florida Bar and a distinction earned by just one (1%) percent of Florida attorneys.  He has handled over 2,000 personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout Florida.  For a free and confidential consultation to discuss your legal rights, contact the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A., in Lee County at 239.337.7483 or toll free at 1.888.477.4839,or by email to  Visit for more information.  You can contact Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, Charlotte County at 941.764.7748 and in Collier County 239.793.7748.



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