A Special Notice to Mariners that the First Coast Guard District, based in Boston, issued in 2001 provides a succinct explanation of the circumstances under which the Coast Guard may terminate a voyage or prevent a skipper from leaving the dock.
Termination of a voyage: A Coast Guard boarding officer who observes a boat being operated in an unsafe condition, specifically defined by law or regulation, and who determines that an especially hazardous condition exists, may direct the operator to take immediate steps to correct the condition, including returning to port.
Termination of unsafe conditions may be imposed for: insufficient number of personal flotation devices, insufficient fire extinguishers, overloading condition, improper navigation light display, fuel leakage, fuel in bilge, improper ventilation, improper backfire flame control or if it is determined to be a manifestly unsafe voyage. An operator who refuses to terminate the unsafe use of a boat can be cited for failure to comply with the directions of the Coast Guard boarding officer, as well as for the specific violations on which the termination order was based.
Prohibition to sail under an order that the voyage is manifestly unsafe: The Coast Guard has authorized the district commander to prohibit the voyage of any vessel if the commander determines that the craft is unsuitable for the intended trip. That determination will be based upon the design, condition and outfitting of the vessel in relation to what the district commander deems necessary for a safe voyage. Operator competency is not a factor in the final determination. If a manifestly unsafe ruling is issued, the voyage is terminated, and the vessel will be prevented from getting underway. The person making the voyage may appeal.
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June 2015 issue