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Bareboat Charters

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A vessel charter is a rental contract for a boat, yacht, or other seagoing vessel. With the advent of rideshare and vacation rental apps, some Tampa Bay vessel owners are seeking extra income by renting out their boat or yacht. Depending on the rental agreement and vessel use, it might be subject to additional US Coast Guard regulations. The US Coast Guard is cracking down on violations of these regulations, and fines can be in excess of $40,000 per day.  

However, a vessel rented under a Bareboat Charter might not be subject to these regulations. A Bareboat Charter is a contract where the Owner of the vessel completely turns over possession, command, and navigation of the vessel to the Charterer.  If total control of the vessel is not turned over, the agreement is most likely a time charter or voyage charter and subject to these additional US Coast Guard regulations.

When the US Coast Guard is determining whether a Bareboat Charter agreement is valid, the following may be considered:

  • Whether the Charterer is tasked with selecting, hiring, and paying the crew directly, with the only restriction a Owner may place on the Charterer being a requirement the crew have a general level of proficiency based on federal statues and regulations.

  • Whether the Charterer must paying for and arrange to be brought onboard all food, stores, consumables and fuel for the trip, without the Owner making arrangements for this to occur.

  • Whether the Charterer is responsible for obtaining insurance for the voyage.

  • Whether the Charterer is responsible for the vessel's safe navigation with complete control of the voyage plan and destinations.

  • If the vessel remains at the peer to be used as a platform for an event, the Charterer has agreed not to charge others for access to the vessel.

  • Whether the vessel is surveyed upon return to the owner.

Even if the Bareboat Charter agreement is valid on its face, common errors that might still result in US Coast Guard fines are:

  • The vessel is carrying more passengers than permitted by the vessel manufacturer.

  • The vessel has more than 12 passengers without out a certificate of inspection, even if moored at a dock.

  • Even if there is less than 12 passengers, the passengers appear to be strangers or small independent groups.

  • There a multiple "Charterers." 

  • The vessel owner is the Captain or part of the crew.

  • The vessel owner is a "passenger," but does not know the other passengers.

Whether you are looking to charter your vessel in the Tampa Bay area for extra cash, or have been recently charged or fined by the US Coast Guard, call 813-825-1267 or email me, a Tampa Bay maritime attorney, for a confidential consultation and initial case review.

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