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HNC Sec 773-774.4 Charter Boat Safety (OPERATION AND EQUIPMENT OF VESSELS - VESSELS
HARBORS AND NAVIGATION CODE
773. The Legislature finds and declares that the charter boat
industry operates in the public interest by providing jobs,
nutritious food, education, recreation, and joy for Californians and
their visitors. The appreciation of whales in their natural habitat
has increased enormously in recent years, along with the number of
off-shore excursions embarking from California harbors, carrying
people from all over the world close to whales that pass along our
shore. Because Pacific Ocean conditions, especially in winter, may
suddenly turn rough or even hazardous, the public health and safety,
as well as the continued vitality of the charter boat industry, is
best served by appropriate safety regulation.
773.1. This article shall be known and may be cited as the Charter
Boat Safety Act of 1983.
773.2. As used in this article:
(a) "For-hire vessel" means a for-hire vessel as defined in
Section 4661 of the Public Utilities Code, irrespective of the number
of passengers carried.
(b) "Charter boat" means a for-hire vessel operating on navigable
water of the state in the coastal zone as defined in Section 30103 of
the Public Resources Code, whether or not the vessel is licensed by
the state. However, "charter boat" does not include any boat
operating solely within a harbor, as defined in Section 34, or any
boat licensed for point-to-point service while operating within the
scope of that license.
(c) "Operator" means a person owning, controlling, operating, or
managing a for-hire vessel.
(d) "Charterer" means a person who receives compensation for
contracting with an operator to transport three or more passengers.
(e) "Coast Guard" means the United States Coast Guard.
(f) "Life preserver" means a life preserver approved and certified
by the Coast Guard and capable of providing at least 90 percent of
factory-rated flotation capacity.
(g) "Person" means any individual, firm, partnership, for-profit
corporation, not for-profit corporation, limited liability company,
company, association, joint stock association, trustee, receiver,
assignee, or other similar entity or representative.
773.3. No person shall take or offer to take seven or more
passengers on a charter boat unless the vessel is licensed by the
United States Coast Guard.
773.4. (a) No operator or charterer shall prevent any person from
complying with, or direct any person to violate, any provision of
this article, or direct the captain to get underway over the captain'
s objection that the condition of the vessel, or the weather, or a
combination of both, makes the trip inadvisable.
(b) It shall be a full and complete defense to a charge of
violating this section that, given the then-existing conditions of
the vessel and the weather, the captain's or other person's
compliance, however obtained, did not violate and would not have
violated any provision of this article or any regulation of the Coast
Guard, and was and would have been consistent with all safety
precautions and procedures recommended by the Coast Guard.
(c) As used in this section:
(1) "Direct" means to coerce or attempt to coerce by threat of
loss of employment or charter earnings or, if by an operator but not
a charterer, to make a demand in violation of this section under
circumstances in which it would be reasonable for the captain or
other person to believe that failure to comply could lead to the loss
of his or her employment or charter earnings.
(2) "Captain" means the individual responsible for the operation
of the vessel while underway.
773.5. The operator of a charter boat, or the operator's employee
or agent, shall require each passenger to don a life preserver under
any of the following conditions:
(a) When conditions of rough weather or heavy seas pose a threat
to the vessel or its passengers.
(b) When there is a casualty to the vessel including, but not
limited to, any of the following:
(1) Loss of watertight integrity.
(2) Loss of propulsion or steering in close proximity to a shoal
(3) Fire at sea.
(4) When under tow.
(c) When crossing or navigating the bar or shoal at or near the
entrance of any California harbor where weather conditions, surface
current, breaking seas, or severely reduced visibility, cause an
increase in the possibility of a sudden emergency that might prevent
passengers from donning life preservers before entering the water.
(d) As used in this section:
(1) "An increase in the possibility" means a decrease in the
certainty of a reasonably prudent operator that normal operation of
the charter boat would avoid any sudden mishap.
(2) "Normal operation" means operation without resort to emergency
procedures or other extraordinary measures to maintain course.
773.6. An operator, or the operator's employee or agent, who
directs the passengers to the life preservers while announcing that
the passengers are required for their safety to don them shall be
deemed to have complied with Section 773.5, if the operator, or the
operator's employee or agent, or the operator's employee at least
once instructs any passenger who fails to don a life preserver to do
so, and if the life preservers are unwrapped, ready to be donned, and
stowed in a conveniently accessible place.
773.7. The operator, or the operator's employee or agent, of a
charter boat, prior to getting underway, shall orient each passenger
concerning emergency procedures. A public announcement shall be made
at the beginning of each trip to afford all passengers knowledge of
the stowage location of life preservers, a demonstration of the
proper method of donning and adjusting life preservers, the type and
location of all lifesaving devices carried on the vessel, and the
location of and contents of the emergency check-off list as
prescribed in 46 C.F.R. 185.25-1. This public announcement shall be
identified as a safety briefing in compliance with state law so as to
differentiate it from a general information announcement.
773.8. (a) A charterer or operator who organizes charter boat trips
shall inform each adult passenger as soon as practicable after the
passenger contracts or pays for passage or boards the charter boat,
whichever occurs first, that life jackets will be provided at the
adult passenger's request. Adult and minor passengers shall be
informed that life jackets are required to be worn at the direction
of the operator or the operator's employee or agent.
(b) When leaving or returning to port, the operator shall use
reasonable care in securing or causing to be secured objects which
may cause injury to passengers.
774. (a) Every charterer and every charter boat operator shall
include in all advertising for any charter trips in the coastal zone,
as defined in Section 30103 of the Public Resources Code, the
statement that for the public safety all personal flotation devices
carried aboard these United States Coast Guard Certificated Vessels
are inspected and approved by the United States Coast Guard.
(b) Any operator or charterer who violates this section shall be
liable for a civil penalty not less than fifty dollars ($50) and not
more than one hundred dollars ($100) for each violation. The action
shall be brought in the manner specified in Section 17206 of the
Business and Professions Code.
774.1. No operator of a for-hire vessel shall leave or enter Morro
Bay after being directed by the harbormaster of the harbor not to do
so because of the condition of the weather, the sea, the vessel, or a
774.2. The operation of Section 655, 773.5, 773.7, or 774.1 or
subdivision (b) of Section 773.8 shall be suspended if the Coast
Guard or other appropriate federal agency has adopted and is
enforcing a substantially similar regulation which conflicts with
774.3. (a) Except as provided in Section 774, violation of any
provision of this article is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment
for not more than six months in the county jail, or a fine of not
more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both the fine and
(b) Any operator who violates any provision of this article shall
be liable for a civil penalty of not more than fifty thousand dollars
($50,000) for each violation. The action shall be brought in the
manner specified in Section 17206 of the Business and Professions
(c) Any violation of this article may be enjoined by the manner
specified in Section 17203 of the Business and Professions Code and a
violation of an injunction may be punished to the extent provided in
Section 17207 of the Business and Professions Code.
774.4. (a) This article does not impose any mandatory duties upon
any public entity to monitor sea or weather conditions or to warn or
prevent vessels from leaving or entering a harbor entrance during
(b) No public entity or employee thereof is liable for any injury
which results from any act, or omission to act, prohibiting an
operator for a for-hire vessel from leaving or entering a harbor.