U.S. Coast Guard officials say it may be a month or more before additional information is available regarding two boats on Lake of the Ozarks that were stopped more than week ago

U.S. Coast Guard officials say it may be a month or more before additional information is available regarding two boats on Lake of the Ozarks that were stopped more than week ago

An investigation is underway but may not be completed for several months. No information on what company or operators were running the boats was released pending the outcome of the investigation. The Coast Guard did reference that the boats were not in compliance with the rules and regulations for bareboat charters. From information that was provided, it appears the boats were carrying more than the Coast Guard limit of 12 or less passengers.

A bareboat charter is supposed to be an arrangement for hiring a boat without crew or provisions.

The boats were “terminated” for suspected illegal charter operations on the lake. The boats were stopped during routine patrols on Lake of the Ozarks, according to the press release issued by the Coast Guard. The emphasis of the patrols are to promote marine safety, identify unsafe or hazardous conditions, educate the boating community and enforce applicable rules and regulations.

The Coast Guard periodically patrols on Lake of the Ozarks but their operations are generally during peak boating weekends such as Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day. The Coast Guard did not say if they plan on conducting more frequent patrols on the lake.

Because Lake of the Ozarks is considered a federal navigable waterway, the Coast Guard has full jurisdiction and regulates commercial boating on Lake of the Ozarks for vessels who carry passengers for hire. Restrictions apply to the number of passengers, equipment and the type of license required to operate. The basic laws and definitions governing charter services can be found in Title 46 United States Code 2101 and Title 46 Code of Federal Regulations 175.400.

According to a statement released in July, the Coast Guard has received reports from reputable sources including prominent members of the maritime community and legal passenger vessel operators about illegal passenger vessels conducting charter operations.

Unlawful operations include, but are not limited to:

•Charter services carrying a “Passenger for Hire” without a Coast Guard issued Merchant Mariner’s Credential consistent with offered services.

•Bareboat charter services that provide a vessel with a crew/master or carry more than 12 passengers onboard.

•Charter services that carry more than six passengers, at least one of which are for hire, and are not certified by the Coast Guard. Coast Guard Capt. Scott Stoermer, commander of Sector Upper Mississippi River, said people have the right to know they are paying for a safe voyage before handing over their money.

Vessel-for-hire services with a captain who is not credentialed puts passengers and surrounding boats in danger. Anyone that suspects a passenger vessel is operating illegally should immediately contact the Coast Guard.