South Florida

Coast Guard cites Watson Island charter boat for multiple violations

A 20-foot pleasure craft moored at Watson Island, Florida, Feb. 18, 2019. The operator of the vessel was boarded by the Coast Guard and cited for not having a valid Certificate of Inspection, not having a credentialed mariner in control while operating a small passenger vessel, failure to have a drug and alcohol program and failure to have a valid stability letter, according to a Coast Guard press release.
A 20-foot pleasure craft moored at Watson Island, Florida, Feb. 18, 2019. The operator of the vessel was boarded by the Coast Guard and cited for not having a valid Certificate of Inspection, not having a credentialed mariner in control while operating a small passenger vessel, failure to have a drug and alcohol program and failure to have a valid stability letter, according to a Coast Guard press release.

The operator of a Watson Island tour boat faces more than $42,000 in fines for multiple safety violations, including reportedly running a charter business without the required paperwork.

Among the violations a U.S. Coast Guard patrol boat crew based in Miami Beach found were not having a credentialed mariner in control of the 20-foot pontoon boat, no certification of inspection, failure to have a drug and alcohol program and failure to have a valid stability letter, according to a Coast Guard press release.

The Coast Guard boarded the vessel Monday during the Presidents Day federal holiday. Watson Island, located in Biscayne Bay, is part of the City of Miami.

“While we want people to have fun out on the water, it’s even more important to us that they’re being safe,” Chief Warrant Officer Benjamin Mercado, investigative officer at Sector Miami, said in a statement. “Putting your trust in an operator who’s not properly credentialed could be dangerous for everyone involved.”

The name of the tour boat operator was not immediately known. The Coast Guard did not include that information in the press release.

Owners and operators of illegal passenger-for-hire vessels face a maximum civil penalty of $42,394, according to the press release.

David Goodhue covers the Florida Keys and South Florida for FLKeysNews.com and the Miami Herald. Before joining the Herald, he covered Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy in Washington, D.C. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.


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