Coast Guard Halts Illegal Charters

Over Labor Day weekend, Puget Sound-area U.S. Coast Guard crew members stopped three illegally chartered pleasure vessels operating in Lake Washington and Lake Union.

Coast Guard Station Seattle, Coast Guard Cutters Sea Lion and Bailey T. Barco, and Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound, were out in force, patrolling the lakes and San Juan Islands. They were there to conduct safety inspections, enforce boating-under-the-influence rules and check for illegal charter operations.

One of the vessels approached that week possessed a series of violations, including “not having a credentialed mariner in control while operating a small passenger vessel” and failing to have a “Certificate of Documentation while in Coastwise trade” for a vessel larger than 5 gross tons, according to the agency.

Violators could face up to $59,000 for illegal passenger-for-hire operations and charters that violate a captain of the port order could pay over $94,000 in fines.

“Illegal charters pose a danger to everyone aboard the vessel. Terminating these dangerous operations and educating the boating public is a top priority for the Coast Guard,” said Master Chief Petty Officer Kevinn Smith. “If you suspect an illegal charter, reach out to the Coast Guard on channel 16.”

By Sarah Spangler