How to Abide by Boat Charter Rules and Regulations

About Coast Guard Charter Operations

Boat Charter Rules for Boat Owners

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) and the Department of Homeland Security sets forth the guidelines of boat charter rules, which applies to foreign flagged vessels and U.S. flagged vessels. These guidelines ensure the safety of passengers, as well as the validity of the boating industry and fall into four main categories:

  1. International Conventions
  2. National Regulations
  3. State Regulations
  4. Classification Society rules and regulations (non-governmental body)

Read more about these categories to determine how the boat charter rules apply to you and your boat.

The Common Sense Boat Charter Rules

Rule number one when boating: apply common sense. Rule number two when boating: don’t operate the vessel under the influence of drugs or alcohol (if you’re following rule number one this shouldn’t be a problem).

On a boat you should use the same care that you do when in a car and you should always apply common sense. More often than not, if you stop and think about the situation, your common sense and intuition will likely lead you in the right direction (again, assuming you’re sober). Never forget that while boating is fun there is always an element of danger. The phrase, “never underestimate mother nature” is popular for a reason. Don’t test your luck when on the water because you likely won’t be lucky more than once.

Popular Boat Charter Vessel Errors

According to the USCG the following boat charter rules are the most violated by boat charter owners:

  • The boat charter cannot carry more than 12 passengers without a Certificate of Inspection.
  • Since a charter vessel is considered carrying passengers when moored, there cannot be more than 12 passengers when the vessel is moored (nor when it is in motion).
  • Foreign vessels cannot carry passengers for compensation and, therefore, must operate as a recreational vessel.
  • The charterer is not considered a passenger (there is only one charterer).

Basic Rules for Boat Charters

In addition to the general safety regulations, boat charter captains must also acknowledge and abide by the following rules (some according to law):

  • Report to customs when crossing an international boundary;
  • Maintain a log of any boat issues;
  • Do not discharge untreated sewage from the head system in U.S waters;
  • Do not operate before sunrise, after sunset or in limited viability scenarios;
  • Follow all radio protocol;
  • Follow wake guidelines;
  • Draft an emergency policy and ensure the crew is aware of the procedure;
  • Do not consume alcohol when operating a vessel;
  • Do not operate the vessel under the influence of drugs, or while drowsy;
  • Check the engine oil, coolant, pads, fuel tank levels and holding tank every morning;
  • Watch for fisherman and their nets, and divers; and
  • Maintain the following safety equipment: fire extinguishers, lifejackets, throw ring, flares, first aid kit and flashlights.

Read more about general boating safety tips.

Find a Boat Charter with Boatsetter

Thanks to Boatsetter, finding and securing a boat charter is as easy as securing a hotel room. Log on to see the available boat charters and rentals in hundreds of cities across the United States. All reservations can be canceled within 24 hours and all of our boats are insured. Every captain who works with Boatsetter is certified by the USCG.

You have nothing to lose, but everything to gain. An afternoon on the water is only a few clicks away.

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