The US Coast Guard terminated the voyage of two vessels allegedly violating small passenger laws and regulations on Lake of the Ozarks over the weekend.

The US Coast Guard terminated the voyage of two vessels allegedly violating small passenger laws and regulations on Lake of the Ozarks over the weekend.

A Coast Guard Sector Upper Mississippi River 29-foot Response Boat-Small law enforcement boat crew conducted a boarding on the 50-foot yacht, The Shady Shack, with 24 passengers aboard on the Gravois Arm Friday, August 24, 2018. Additionally, the Coast Guard crew observed the 42-foot boat, The Play Pen, with 15 passengers aboard from the dock on Saturday, August 25.

The Coast Guard regulates commercial boating on Lake of the Ozarks including vessels that carry passengers for hire. Restrictions apply to the number of passengers and the type of license a boat captain has obtained.

In both cases this past weekend, a press release from the USCG states that the crew discovered the following:

•Violation of 46 C.F.R. 176.100A for not having a valid Certificate of Inspection.

•Violation of 46 C.F.R. 15.515B for not having a credentialed mariner in control while operating a small passenger vessel.

•Violation of 46 C.F.R. 16.201 for failure to have a drug and alcohol program.

•Violation of 46 C.F.R. 170.120 for failure to have a valid stability letter.

The owners and operators of The Shady Shack and Play Pen face maximum civil penalties of as much as $41,546 for this illegal passenger-for-hire operation, according to the press release.

“Boating safety and legal chartering operations remain top Coast Guard priorities along our waterway system,” said Capt. Scott Stoermer, commander, Sector Upper Mississippi River. “Given the inherently elevated risks that come with the congestion along Lake of the Ozarks in summer months, continued education and law enforcement presence are important elements to best ensure an enjoyable time on the water is also a safe one.”

The investigations into these charter services are ongoing. The voyage terminations were the third such pair — a total of six boats — in less than a month on Lake of the Ozarks. Past press releases on the previous alleged violations did not name any of the vessels involved. The Coast Guard terminated two vessels suspected of illegal charter operations on the Lake of the Ozarks, issuing citations August 1.

The USCG crew determined the vessels were operating with excess passengers. These boats were operating as bareboat charters. A bareboat charter is supposed to be an arrangement for hiring a boat without crew or provisions.

A Coast Guard crew terminated the voyages of two other charter vessels, one on August 17 and one August 18, also for exceeding the legal limit of 12 passengers.

The Lake Sun is working to try to obtain more information.

It is important for safety reasons to use water taxis, shuttles and charter services that use USCG captains who are properly licensed and have undertaken appropriate safety measures.

“Passengers should understand safety requirements before paying for boating services,” said Capt. Scott Stoermer, commander, Sector Upper Mississippi River. “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.”

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.

The boats were stopped during routine patrols on Lake of the Ozarks, according to the press releases 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 in the past have generally focused on 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, but that appears to be the case. 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.