Local News in Brief : Countywide : Coast Guard Clarifies Its Rules for Charters

The Coast Guard has clarified its definition of a charter-boat passenger and in February will resume a crackdown on uncertified charter craft operating from Santa Barbara to Dana Point, officials said Wednesday.

The Coast Guard called off its crackdown on unlicensed charter craft along that part of the coast in December after it boarded some vessels in Newport Bay that had been rented by employers throwing company Christmas parties.

Coast Guard officials had contended then that the vessels fit the legal definition of charter craft and therefore had to conform to strict licensing and safety requirements.

The Coast Guard now defines charter “passengers” as people who pay in some way to be aboard a boat. Owners, crew members or guests who do not pay are not considered passengers.


Coast Guard Capt. James C. Card said operators of charter vessels carrying fewer than six passengers must be licensed by the Coast Guard, and charter boats carrying more than six passengers must meet federal safety standards.

Violators may be fined up to $2,000 a day, and their vessels may be seized under certain circumstances, Card said.