Miami-Dade County

Two illegal charter boats stopped. Are you asking the right questions before boarding?

Coast Guard

Does your boat captain have a license? Is the operator following U.S. Coast Guard regulations? Is the charter company legitimate?

These are only a few of the questions the Coast Guard is urging people to ask before stepping onto a boat.

In the last two days, the Coast Guard has stopped the voyage of two vessels in South Florida waters after finding several violations including not having a valid certificate of inspection.

“We are trying to promote safety on the water,” said Petty Officer Third Class Brandon Murray, a spokesman for the Coast Guard. “We want people to check and make sure they are riding with credentialed mariners.”

In the first case, a 24-foot pontoon vessel that was carrying seven passengers was stopped near Watson Island in Biscayne Bay Friday.

Among the violations: Not having a valid inspection certificate; Not having a credentialed mariner in control of a passenger vessel and not having a drug and alcohol program.

Then on Saturday, a 32-foot pleasure boat with 11 passengers was stopped in the Miami River. The operators were cited for the same issues.

Violations can cost owners and operators more than $40,000 in fines.

In recent months, the Coast Guard has stopped several boats that had similar issues. In February, a 28-foot pontoon boat with 10 passengers on board was stopped at the 15th Street Marina in Fort Lauderdale. Also in February, the Coast Guard stopped a 45-foot pleasure craft “Sea You Twerk.”

“It can be very dangerous to take part in a charter that doesn’t meet regulations, and educating yourself on what to look for to determine whether or not the operation is legitimate can save your life,” Petty Officer 1st Class Paula Verden, watchstander at Coast Guard Sector Miami, said in a news release. “It’s important that people looking to charter a boat verify the captain’s license and safety of the vessel.”