If you're heading out on the water this weekend, you know to be safe out there.
But if you pay for a chartered boat, do you know who's making sure that boat and its captain are going to keep you safe?
Just last year, two people died after a charter captain allegedly turned on a boat without checking to see if anyone was in the water. He did not have a proper license.
According to a Tampa Bay Times report, the Coast Guard doesn’t have enough resources to crack down on the issue, especially in Tampa Bay.
That's why Corey Hubbard with Hubbard’s Marina and a handful of other local charter boat companies took matters into their own hands by starting the Tampa Bay Passenger Vessel Association.
They’re pushing for stricter penalties against so-called “illegal charter boats” so deaths and accidents don't ruin the businesses they're worked so hard for.
Corey’s grandfather, Wilson Hubbard, found the company in 1928 and, and it has been a family-owned business ever since.
She's worried her grandfather's business will take a hit since people are opting to go with a cheaper boat ride that often times isn't the safest option.
“Unfortunately, because of the regulations that we're held accountable to, it costs us a lot more to run our operation. So, we have to charge higher in order to make a profit. They’re able to take folks into that water without any cost,” says Hubbard.
Hubbard's Marina spends thousands of dollars keeping their boats up to code ,but illegal charters aren't held to the same standards.
“Technology has allowed us to book anyone off the street that has access to a boat. Unfortunately, consumers aren't aware of that and they get on the boat and are put at risk.
Before you book that boat ride, make sure you're asking to see a captain's license.
Also ask to see for proof of inspection. If a boat has more than six passengers on it then a company is required to have that documentation.
The association is trying to do something similar to what the city of Chicago did.
Last summer, The coast guard there partnered with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to crack down on illegal charter boats.
They wrote 22 citations over a two-week span, even turning fines into felony charges and possible jail time.
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