The United States Coast Guard Boating Guidelines

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How to Stay Safe on the Water

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) and the Department of Homeland Security set forth the guidelines of boat charter rules, which apply to foreign-flagged vessels and U.S. flagged vessels. So whether you’re a boat owner looking to list your boat on Boatsetter, a captain who is guiding the boat, or a boat renter, it’s important to be aware of these rules and regulations before setting sail. At Boatsetter, the only thing more important to us than having fun out on the water is safety and to ensure you have the best on-water experience possible, we’ve compiled this useful guide to introduce you to the United States Coast Guard Boating Guidelines. These guidelines ensure the safety of passengers, as well as the validity of the boating industry and fall into four main categories:

  • International Conventions

  • National Regulations

  • State Regulations

  • Classification Society rules and regulations

The Common Sense Boat Charter Rules

The number one rule to apply when boating in addition to securing the proper listening is to use your boating knowledge tactfully. Another important rule is to never operate the vessel under the influence of drugs or alcohol. You can think of operating a boat a little bit like operating a car. Neither are safe to operate under the influence of alcohol and although the temptations may be there you should always avoid doing so in order to keep you and your crew safe.

Care For the Boat Rental as If It Was Your Own

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. 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:

  • 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.

By following these rules and regulations, you will be able to ensure your own safety, your passenger’s safety, and the safety of the boat and others out on the water. Now, it’s time to hop aboard a Boatsetter boat rental and enjoy your boating adventure in the best fashion possible!

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