How to know a legitimate yacht charter?

When you are planning a day at sea, you want to make sure not only that you have as much fun as possible. But, that you are as safe as possible. However, boating safety is not just having an appropriate number of life jackets available. It is also knowing that you can trust your captain and crew. Captains who intend to carry paying passengers on their vessels must have a license. And, they must meet Coast Guard requirements, and you need to be confident that you are in good hands. Read on for more information on how to tell if your yacht charter is legitimate.

If You Ask For Credentials, Would They Show You?

The Coast Guard legally requires captains of commercial vessels to have a merchant mariners’ license if they are taking even one paying passenger onboard. Taking seven or more onboard requires an inspection from the Coast Guard, which comes with a certificate. (Quick rule of thumb: if you see more than 13 people on a charter that is not for personal use, the crew are definitely breaking Coast Guard law.) The yacht’s operator should have documentation for the license and inspection. So, if you want to check for yourself, you can easily ask them.

It may seem like lousy manners to ask a captain if they are legally allowed to do what they do. However, a breach of etiquette is way better than a violation of safety laws. Any commercial boat owner should care about their passengers enough that they would do what it takes to keep them calm. If they hesitate to show you, they just might be trying to hide something.

Where Did the Captain Ask to Pick You Up?

It may not exactly be a local story, but Chicago has also had to deal with illegal boat charters in the past (as our Chicago River yacht rental office is all too aware). As part of the response to the issue, Master Chief Petty Officer Al Haraf told the Chicago Tribune that one way to know if a charter lacks the proper licensing is if they ask to “pick up passengers at odd locations.” He specifically included “near businesses along the riverwalk” of the Chicago River. But, this advice could just as easily apply to Miami’s own river and elsewhere in the coastline.

Certain companies allow you to choose where the yacht you charter would pick you up. When you do not have that choice, they should be disembarking from established marinas and ports. It is unusual for the company or captain of the yacht to ask that they embark from anywhere else. And, you may want to be wary if they do.

Is Your Yacht Charter Legitimate?

These are just a couple of methods for how to tell if your yacht charter is legitimate. If you strongly suspect that something is not right, you should report the vessel to the Coast Guard. They are trained to spot illegal charters. Remember: sticking with an illegitimate yacht charter is not just a financial risk, but also a risk to your safety.

One last way to make sure your charter is legitimate is to rent from a company that only rents out commercial vessels approved by the Coast Guard. The yachts available through The Advantaged Yacht Charters are all seaworthy and licensed, so you can enjoy yourself at sea with less stress and worry. Check out our online selection of luxury yacht charters today.

what to do if your boat breaks down?

It happens to many people at some point or another: the engine dies while you are well away from the shore. You never know when it will happen to you. However, at the very least, you can prepare by knowing how to make distress calls at sea, just in case it does happen to you. Here is what to do when your boat breaks down.

Use Your Ship’s VHF Marine Radio to Make Distress Calls at Sea

Your immediate instinct may be to call for help, but calling 911 on your cell phone might not work if you are far from land. That is why we urge you to equip your vessel with a very high frequency (VHF) marine radio. Not only will you have a much better signal, but the Coast Guard can track that signal to find you. This might be the most important thing you can have on your ship.

Of course, you should not just wait for anyone to look for you. Send that signal out by calling Channel 16, which is reserved for distress calls and continuously monitored by the Coast Guard. There is a specific format that your call needs to follow:

  • Say “Mayday” three times
  • Then, say “This is,” then the name of your ship three times and your call sign once
  • Say “Mayday” one more time, then repeat the name of your ship once
  • Give any information regarding your position, including latitude and longitude, bearing, and any landmarks nearby
  • Describe your emergency and the assistance you need
  • Give the number of people on the ship
  • Any other information that might be important (whether anyone is hurt, what the ship looks like, how long the emergency has been going on)
  • Say “Over”

Once you say this, you need to wait for a response, whether from the Coast Guard or any other ships in the area that might be able to help. If no one answers within a short period, try again, with the same format as above.

Make Yourself Visible to Other Ships With Visual Distress Signals

You might need to get assistance from another boat while you are out there. To do that, you will need a way to get their attention. That is where visual distress signals come in handy. The Coast Guard, through 33 CFR 171, legally requires ships at least sixteen feet long or carrying less than seven passengers to have some onboard. At least one tool should work in daytime, and at least one should work at night. You could always get one that works for both!

Coast Guard-approved signals include:

  • Electric distress light
  • Orange flag
  • Orange smoke, either handheld or floating (floating smoke only works for daytime)
  • Red flares, either handheld, parachute, or rocket-propelled parachute
  • Red pyrotechnic flares

Knowing how to make distress calls at sea is vital for anyone who plans to go yachting or sailing. Hopefully, this information helps you get prepared for the next time you get into the water. In the meantime, do not let an overabundance of caution keep you from having a good time! Go cruising in style (and with all the proper safety features) and rent a yacht for a day (or even a week!) with The Advantaged Yacht Charters.

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