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Illegal Charters on the Bay

Enterprising sailors looking to make a quick buck off the America’s Cup hype might want to take note that the Coast Guard is issuing a public advisory about illegal passenger vessels that are plying Bay waters. It may seem a relatively benign ‘bending’ of the law, but the Coast Guard takes the offense quite seriously — as they should — and are boarding boats they suspect are illegally carrying paying passengers. The fines can be quite hefty — up to $32,500 — and the Coasties say they’ve already slapped illegal operations with nearly $2,500 worth of fines since the beginning of May.

The San Francisco Maritime Historical Park offers (legal) rides on the historic scow schooner Alma. Call (415) 447-5000 to book space.

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If you’re considering buying tickets on a paid cruise, the Coast Guard recommends asking to see the captain’s USCG license and making sure the boat has a USCG Certificate of Inspection prominently displayed. Call (415) 399-3547 to verify a license or the status of a boat, or to report an illegal charter operation. If you have your Coast Guard license, your boat needs to be inspected before you take more than six paying passengers or you’re at risk of losing your ticket, as well as being fined. If you’re not licensed and are thinking of subsidizing your slip fee by taking out paying customers, do everyone a favor and stop thinking. Not only are you at risk of being caught, but you might inadvertently be putting those customers at risk.

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