‘Illegal charter’ boat cited during Florida-Georgia weekend faces $60K fine

A Coast Guard Station Mayport crew terminates the voyage of the 53-foot vessel Dream Chaser, Oct. 31, 2021 on the St. Johns River. Owners and operators of illegal passenger vessels can face maximum civil penalties of $60,000 or over for illegal passenger-for-hire-operations. (U.S. Coast Guard Courtesy photo) (U.S. Coast Guard Courtesy photo)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A boat being chartered during Florida-Georgia football weekend was shut down by the U.S. Coast Guard on Saturday and its operator was accused of not having the proper licenses.

The Coast Guard shut down the “illegal charter” of the 53-foot vessel Dream Chaser on the St. Johns River. Coast Guard Station Mayport 29-foot Response Boat-Small Law Enforcement team boarded the boat which had 10 people aboard. Nine were passengers for hire and one was a captain, the Coast Guard said.

Officials shut down the boat and it was cited for the following violation: Failure of a vessel on voyage and subject to inspection to be under direction and control of an individual with an appropriate Coast Guard license.

“Our teams are out today to prevent serious threats to the boating public and our waterways,” said Lt. Rian Ellis, chief of enforcement at Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville. “We want everyone to enjoy their time on water, but do so safely. Individuals interested in renting a boat or chartering a boat should ask the captain to show their Coast Guard issued Merchant Mariner’s credentials, the vessel’s Certificate of Inspection and proof of enrollment in a drug and alcohol testing program.”

Owners and operators of illegal passenger vessels can face maximum civil penalties of $60,000 or over for illegal passenger-for-hire-operations. Charters that violate a Captain of the Port Order can face over $95,000. Some potential civil penalties for illegally operating a passenger vessel are:

  • Up to $7,846 for failure of operators to be enrolled in a chemical testing program.
  • Up to $4,888 for failure to provide a Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection for vessels carrying more than six passengers for hire.
  • Up to $16,687 for failure to produce a valid Certificate of Documentation for vessels over 5 gross tons.
  • Up to $12,219 for failure to have been issued a valid Stability Letter prior to placing vessel in service with more than six passengers for hire.
  • Up to $95,881 for every day of failure to comply with a Captain of the Port Order.

Anyone with information regarding an illegal charter is encouraged to contact CGIS.