Grande Mastere Dreade

captains license question

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on an inland lake, if an organization owns a 40' catamaran and wants to give rides to groups of people  up to say 30,  does the skipper need to have any sort of coast guard captain's license or any sort of license?  I'm not sure of the tonnage, but lets say around 10k lbs..

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You should have the boat owner and operator ask this question to their insurance carrier.  Not going to be a problem, unless something bad happens, and there is a liability question...

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This document has a chart that goes over requirements:

http://wow.uscgaux.info/Uploads_wowII/P-DEPT/PaxForHire_GuideChart.pdf

If the passengers are paying, then there are requirements.

If they are not, then it varies depending on how many, especially if there are over 6 passengers.

A couple of other links about this topic:

https://www.workboat.com/news/passenger-vessels/passenger-vessel-operators-voice-concern-illegal-charters/

The law requires a boat to be inspected if it carries more than six people with at least one paying passenger. Operators must be licensed to legally carry up to six paying riders. Commercial operators with six or more onboard — with at least one paying — must have a master’s license and a Certificate of Inspection (COI). Bareboat charters may carry a maximum of 12 without a COI. The Coast Guard has several enforcement options including taking control of the vessel, civil penalties up to $37,500, violation notices and revoking a master’s license.

“The Coast Guard has been made aware of more incidents of individuals operating illegally,” said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Tim Tilghman, who’s based in Miami. “People who are good citizens and responsible marine operators” are feeling easier about reporting suspicious charters.

“There have always been instances of people taking vessels that are not Coast Guard inspected saying, ‘I’ll make a little bit of money.’ It’s a slow burn type problem in many areas,” said Ed Welch, the PVA’s legislative director.

“I don’t think people fully understand laws that apply to bareboat charters,” Borgström said. “The public is being misled into thinking it’s safe. Many of these boats wouldn’t stand up to Coast Guard inspection. People have gotten away with it without any repercussions. We need a couple of these guys to get busted big time.”

Borgström showed a few slides of alleged illegal charters and what to look for. One slide showed a boat that operates in Chicago with a crew outfitted in matching shorts. “The boat is not inspected, has no registration numbers, and is registered in the Cayman Islands. They take anywhere from 10 to 30 people out on that boat in and out all day. This is one of those things that you see and something’s not right there. But how do you prove it? That’s up to the Coast Guard.”

But Borgström said the Coast Guard is now trained to look for suspicious charters and can take action.

Borgström said that it’s important to note “a lot of this illegal activity is not necessarily being done intentionally. It’s ignorance of the law, ignorance of insurance requirements, it’s whether I think I have a license or I don’t. In most cases, I think all of us on the panel here feel that people that are breaking the law or operating illegally don’t realize it.”

http://www.thelog.com/ask-the-attorney/passenger-for-hire-or-charter-boat-whats-the-difference/

Federal law (Title 46 U.S. Code, sec. 2101) defines a passenger for hire as “a passenger for whom consideration is contributed as a condition of carriage on the vessel, whether directly or indirectly flowing to the owner, charterer, operator, agent, or any other person having an interest in the vessel.” A “passenger” is basically anyone aboard who does not have any crew responsibilities or any responsibilities relating to the operation of the boat. The statute further defines “consideration” as “an economic benefit, inducement, right, or profit including pecuniary payment accruing to an individual, person, or entity, but not including a voluntary sharing of the actual expenses of the voyage, by monetary contribution or donation of fuel, food, beverage, or other supplies.”

The definition is fairly straightforward, until we get to the last half-sentence. The sharing of the boat’s operating expenses. I have discussed this issue with many nonprofit organizations over the past few years, and the problem centers on the word “voluntary.” A “voluntary” sharing of expenses would be something along the lines of a passenger telling the owner “here – let me help,” and handing him or her twenty dollars. The payment is not a condition for allowing him or her aboard for the voyage.

A passenger for hire is therefore someone who cannot participate in the voyage without paying or contributing something. This includes the sharing of expenses. If a passenger is required to share expenses, it is not “voluntary,” and that person becomes a passenger for hire.

The stakes in this discussion can be high. An excursion that does not carry any passengers for hire is simply a recreational boat out for a day-sail. It is not subject to the operator licensing requirements, construction guidelines, passenger limits or equipment requirements that regulate the charter industry.

Most vessels that carry passengers for hire in the U.S. must comply with a strict set of Coast Guard regulations, they must pass a rigorous Coast Guard inspection (this is notthe courtesy inspection conducted by the Coast Guard Auxiliary), and the boat must be issued a Certificate of Inspection from the Coast Guard. If it is not issued a Certificate of Inspection, it will be limited to six or fewer passengers for hire (often referred to as a “six-pack” charter). But even a six-pack charter must be operated by a licensed captain, and the boat must be built in the United States. A foreign built vessel may not legally carry passengers for hire in this country unless the owner obtains a waiver of the restriction through to the Small Vessel Waiver Program administered by the United States Maritime Administration (“MARAD”).

This analysis seems unnecessary for a nonprofit organization working with donated boats and volunteer operators. But the regulations do not distinguish between different types of organizations, and a nonprofit with an admirable purpose will be evaluated under the same lens as a for-profit commercial operation.

It all comes down to one simple question: Are the passengers allowed aboard the boat even if nobody pays their way or contributes to the operating expenses? If the answer is “no – they are not allowed aboard,” we are looking at a charter boat.

I believe this last link contains the relevant portion of federal law (US Code):

https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2011-title46/html/USCODE-2011-title46-subtitleII-partA-chap21-sec2101.htm

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5 minutes ago, BrickTopHarry said:

This document has a chart that goes over requirements:

http://wow.uscgaux.info/Uploads_wowII/P-DEPT/PaxForHire_GuideChart.pdf

If the passengers are paying, then there are requireIments.

If they are not, then it varies depending on how many, especially if there are over 6 passengers.

 

Some people get around this by calling it a "donation", rather than a "fee" for services rendered.  Like I said above, check with the vessels and operators insurance carriers, because when things go pear shaped, liability can be very expensive!!

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16 minutes ago, BrickTopHarry said:

I know I've seen news articles in the last couple/few years suggesting the USCG is increasing enforcement in this area.

 

Increasing enforcement?  In 1982, I was running a 65' IOR class A race boat, and the USCG turned around a 150 foot cutter in the Race, and then boarded us in Long Island Sound, for a routine "safety check".  We had a crew of 3, and full safety equipment for 15.  But, the boat had recently had the forward hatch enlarged to facilitate moving headsails and kites from below, and back.  Unknown to me, was that Derektors Mamaroneck yard, who did the work, had failed to permanently affix the Documentation numbers in the new hatch frame.  So, I was written up, and told it would go on my "permanent record", since at the time, I had a 100 ton near coastal license for sail-auxiliary.  Unfortunately, my license expired in '95, when I did not receive the customary renewal application from the Coast Guard.  At the time, I was too busy raising kids, and building a business to even notice.....

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do the USCG requirement apply to lakes which are not defined as navigable waters?

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9 hours ago, JohnMB said:

do the USCG requirement apply to lakes which are not defined as navigable waters?

No. Neither Coast Guard inspection/coast guard regulations for the boat, nor a Coast Guard captain's license.

The most outstanding example of a state falling down on the job of inspections was the ETHAN ALLEN.
Although the boat had originally been coastal and documented properly under CG, it was moved to Lake George and over the years modified in various ways. The NY authorities did not do their due diligence to ensure the vessel still met requirements. Then the worst thing that could happen, happened. It capsized. You can find a NTSB report on it if you search.

Here's the article on the calamity when it happened.

https://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/03/nyregion/21-die-in-sinking-of-tourist-boat-in-adirondacks.html
 

In NY state, you need a NY public vessel operator's license:

https://parks.ny.gov/recreation/boating/documents/VesselOperatorsLicenseGuide.pdf

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So the answer  to the OP is, first you have to know what laws govern your lake.  An inland lake may -or may not be US navigable waters, if not then loal or regional rules will apply.

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Don't get caught up in the concept that a license is only required if money is paid. It's not about money, it's about compensation of any sort. If they give you lunch, if they wash the boat down after the day, if they give you a ride home - that's compensation.

 

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A lake which doesn't extend into another state, is not a navigable waterway for purposes of Coast Guard regulation.  States may require some type of operator's license to carry passengers for hire, but the feds wouldn't have jurisdiction. 

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Best to get the Lic.  6pac then master 100t can come in handy later if you wanna get a job on a river leading away from the lake to the ocean and beyond.  But if you are inland on an unnavigable lake and that is where you have most of your boating exp I doubt they will accept that as Sea Time as required

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On 5/6/2018 at 12:03 PM, billy backstay said:

 

Some people get around this by calling it a "donation", rather than a "fee" for services rendered.  Like I said above, check with the vessels and operators insurance carriers, because when things go pear shaped, liability can be very expensive!!

Sorry been out,   yes , I believe donations are the norm as it is against lake district rules to run a business on/at the lake unless the lake board approves and gets their hand in the pocket..

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On 5/7/2018 at 7:20 AM, JohnMB said:

So the answer  to the OP is, first you have to know what laws govern your lake.  An inland lake may -or may not be US navigable waters, if not then loal or regional rules will apply.

 

thanks..

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32 minutes ago, Grande Mastere Dreade said:

Sorry been out,   yes , I believe donations are the norm as it is against lake district rules to run a business on/at the lake unless the lake board approves and gets their hand in the pocket..

Calling a revenue a donation does not make it voluntary unless it is truly at the participants' choice. What of people who wish to participate in your organizations activities but don’t choose not to make a donation? Are they permitted to participate? ...if you don’t have any history of people participating without donating you will have a hard time making the case the donations are voluntary.

(e.g. Entrance to the Met in New York is based on voluntary donations. There is a recommended donation. Many people give more, some give none, all are welcomed in. That is a donation.)

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On 5/6/2018 at 10:29 AM, Grande Mastere Dreade said:

on an inland lake, if an organization owns a 40' catamaran and wants to give rides to groups of people  up to say 30,  does the skipper need to have any sort of coast guard captain's license or any sort of license?  I'm not sure of the tonnage, but lets say around 10k lbs..

30 people on a 40 foot catamaran, I'm sure you need a captain's license, and a nice insurance policy.

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a licensed master is required for any boat that is carry passengers for hire.

passenger for hire = "passenger for hire' means a passenger for whom consideration is contributed as a condition of carriage on the vessel, whether directly or indirectly flowing to the owner, charterer, operator, agent, or any other person having an interest in the vessel.."

If the passengers give a donation to help cover expenses, or bring food/drink to share, etc, they may not be "passengers for hire".

But if you're doing this as a part of a business, and/or on a regular schedule.... USCG would probably deem it to be a for-hire operation.

$.02

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For that large of an operation I would check with a lawyer, not SA.

There are many non-profit sailing schools who use un-licensed volunteer on-boat instructors and have been doing so for decades.  It always seemed like a grey area to me.

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39 minutes ago, sledracr said:

a licensed master is required for any boat that is carry passengers for hire.

I believe this is true for federal navigable waters.

I believe that for other waters (such as the lake the OP is considering) this may not be true depending on local regulation.

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3 hours ago, KC375 said:

Calling a revenue a donation does not make it voluntary unless it is truly at the participants' choice. What of people who wish to participate in your organizations activities but don’t choose not to make a donation? Are they permitted to participate? ...if you don’t have any history of people participating without donating you will have a hard time making the case the donations are voluntary.

 

(e.g. Entrance to the Met in New York is based on voluntary donations. There is a recommended donation. Many people give more, some give none, all are welcomed in. That is a donation.)

 

This ^

A donation cannot be a condition for someone to come aboard for the trip.  Splitting of expenses 'may' be done, but you cannot require it as a condition.

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17 hours ago, green03 said:

So, if friends agree before a trip to share expenses, is that voluntary or not?

If NOT sharing expenses means you would not be permitted aboard the vessel than it is not voluntary.

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On 5/9/2018 at 1:01 PM, Alex W said:

For that large of an operation I would check with a lawyer, not SA.

There are many non-profit sailing schools who use un-licensed volunteer on-boat instructors and have been doing so for decades.  It always seemed like a grey area to me.

As I understand it, if sail- only and no motor, captain’s license not required.  But add a motor, and it is.  

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15 hours ago, nolatom said:

As I understand it, if sail- only and no motor, captain’s license not required.  But add a motor, and it is.  

two 6hp electric motors,   mostly motors around with "sails" up.. 

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15 hours ago, nolatom said:

As I understand it, if sail- only and no motor, captain’s license not required.  But add a motor, and it is.  

Nola,

     That sounds all and well but comes from the official name for the '6 pack' license which is the entry level license with the CG. 'Motorboat Operators License' is what the title is on the license says and for years the 'no motor no license needed' excuse has been used. In particular a whole fleet of nimble sailing only trimarans was spawned by that by Dick Newick from Christiansted Harbor to Buck Island. I have a friend who is a native of Nieves that had been sailing that daycharter route for decades but as it got more competitive bigger more cumbersome catamarans had  motors to negotiate the tight channels especially within the bounds of the extensive coral reefs at Buck Island. The smaller 6 passenger tris with no motors could sail circles around the big 36 to 49 passenger catamarans but didn't have the profit potential of the 'cattlemarans'. So eventually someone 'dropped a dime' on the best natural sailor I have ever known and he got shook down by first the US National Park service in which the town down dock and Buck Island are within their jurisdiction and then they park called the Coast Guard took there turn on that nasty gangbang of the skipper. It didn't help that he had never had insurance for paying guests but he must have had a few million passenger miles under his belt when he got rudely shut down. 

     On the other topic I had heard a tale of a large daycharter cat being built on the shores of Lake Tahoe was nearing completion when a van with a group of overall clad Coasties from SF pulled up and got out and asked to see the CG approved building plans for the boat. The designer proclaimed (or so I was told) that the lake (7000' elevation?) was not in their jurisdiction and such formalities were not necessary. Wrong thing to say to the men in uniform... It turned out to be a classic case of thinking that it is easier to ask for forgiveness later that to get permission beforehand. Since California and Nevada border Tahoe that meant he needed to go through the whole tiresome and time consuming process with the CG engineers in Washington. 

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What I was trying to point out is illustrated in this chart, which comes from the American Sailing Association:

https://asa.com/pdf/USCG-questions.pdf

So--you're that college kid who grew up sailing, teaching (for pay, obviously) at a camp for the summer on Flying Scots, no motor?  You're cool, no license required. 

But on that old Triton with an Atomic Four, taking paying passengers out for a sunset sail, or for a paid sailing lesson?  License required!  And you're limited to 6 pax, since it's an uninspected vessel under the Coast Guard inspection regs.  You don't need anything more than a 6-pack license, since that's the one for uninspected vessels.   If you have a "larger" license (me, I have a 100T Aux Sail, motor, and steam, ha ha on the latter), then it will cover uninspected craft as well,  Same result if you hang an outboard on that Scot (no one does, but just sayin'), you need a license.  Same result, too, if you're teaching them on their own auxiliary sailboat and getting paid for it.

Once you get past 6 passengers, the boat itself has to have a Certificate of Inspection (meaning a whole list of engineering and safety requirements beyond the simple equipment regs for recreational vessels), hence you need a license for inspected vessels if you're a hired captain or instructor on that boat.  Or as I was taught long ago in the Coast Guard, "you can drown six--you can't drown seven"...

I may have stated the obvious here, if so, apologies.  Or maybe it isn't that obvious?

 

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