The U.S. Coast Guard is cracking down on illegal charter boats

Charter Boat Coast Guard.jpg
Pictured is the 45-foot pleasure craft Sea You Twerk at Biscayne Bay, Florida, Feb. 10, 2019. The Coast Guard terminated the voyage of the 45-foot pleasure craft Sea You Twerk with 14 passengers aboard in Biscayne Bay after discovering multiple safety violations. (Coast Guard Photo)

The U.S. Coast Guard has been cracking down on illegal charter boats.

They said they are dangerous and in some cases even deadly.

However, often, the passengers have no idea they've paid for an illegal charter boat.

Captain Byron Allen said most people who charter his boat, Good Times Fishing Charter don't ask many questions when they get on board.

“Nobody really asks me if I have a captain’s license or not you know, when they come on board the boat,” said Allen.

You should ask a captain about their license and safety equipment because good times on any charter boat can turn bad quickly if it's operating illegally.

It’s why the Coast Guard is ramping up crackdowns on illegal charters.

They said they have nearly doubled the number of illegal charter boats they caught in some South Florida areas, in comparison to last year.

“Sometimes we are received with hostility,” said Lt. Jorge Santiago of the U.S. Coast Guard Miami Sector.

"Sometimes they don't like it because we are terminating their voyage. So when we find anything that is illegal, the boat is coming back. We are not going to let you keep sailing, so we basically ruin their day."

Santiago remembers a deadly case on board an illegal charter boat called the “Miami Vice” last year.

"Everybody was having a good time, by the time they left, the captain didn't notice that two individuals were in the water and when he started backing up the vessel, one of those individuals got caught up in the propellers and it ultimately ended up in a fatality,” Santiago explained.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the “Miami Vice” was chartered for $3,000.

The man hired as a captain on the boat didn’t have a valid captain's license.

Captain Allen said it’s important to have a captain’s license and a boat that's safe, up to code, and not operating over capacity.

“There are a lot of different things that could go wrong,” said Allen.

To check the status of a person’s captains license click here.