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Before going on paid boat rides or sightseeing trips, the Coast Guard recommends all passengers paying for boating services ask the captain for merchant mariner credentials. If the boat is carrying more than six passengers, it is required to be inspected by the Coast Guard, and a Certificate of Inspection should be displayed in an area accessible to passengers.
Prospective passengers should exercise caution before chartering a vessel and should consider these key questions:
· Does the vessel have a credentialed master aboard?
· Are the master and crew enrolled in a Department of Transportation Drug and Alcohol Testing Program?
· Does the vessel have proper documentation and safety equipment aboard?
· If carrying more than six passengers, does the chartered vessel hold a Certificate of Inspection issued by the U.S. Coast Guard?
· If it is a bareboat charter rental, (one without a crew provided), are you exceeding the maximum of 12 passengers allowed plus the charterer? Are you given the opportunity to select a crew or provide your own crew in order to operate that vessel?
Illegal charters not only put passengers in danger but impact the business of legally operated charters.