Code Section Group

Harbors and Navigation Code - HNC

DIVISION 3. VESSELS [399 - 786]

  ( Division 3 enacted by Stats. 1937, Ch. 368. )

CHAPTER 5. Operation and Equipment of Vessels [650 - 774.4]

  ( Heading of Chapter 5 amended by Stats. 1970, Ch. 1428. )

ARTICLE 4. Charter Boat Safety [773 - 774.4]
  ( Article 4 added by Stats. 1983, Ch. 1049, Sec. 1. )

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.

(Added by Stats. 1983, Ch. 1049, Sec. 1. Effective September 26, 1983.)

773.1.
  

This article shall be known and may be cited as the Charter Boat Safety Act of 1983.

(Added by Stats. 1983, Ch. 1049, Sec. 1. Effective September 26, 1983.)

773.2.
  

As used in this article, the following definitions shall apply:

(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, nonprofit corporation, limited liability company, company, association, joint stock association, trustee, receiver, assignee, or other similar entity or representative.

(Amended by Stats. 2006, Ch. 538, Sec. 346. Effective January 1, 2007.)

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.

(Added by Stats. 1983, Ch. 1049, Sec. 1. Effective September 26, 1983.)

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.

(Added by Stats. 1983, Ch. 1049, Sec. 1. Effective September 26, 1983.)

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 or shore.

(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.

(Added by Stats. 1983, Ch. 1049, Sec. 1. Effective September 26, 1983.)

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.

(Added by Stats. 1983, Ch. 1049, Sec. 1. Effective September 26, 1983.)

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.

(Amended by Stats. 1987, Ch. 910, Sec. 3.)

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.

(Amended by Stats. 1987, Ch. 910, Sec. 4.)

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.

(Added by Stats. 1983, Ch. 1049, Sec. 1. Effective September 26, 1983.)

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 combination thereof.

(Added by Stats. 1983, Ch. 1049, Sec. 1. Effective September 26, 1983.)

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 those sections.

(Amended by Stats. 1987, Ch. 910, Sec. 5.)

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 imprisonment.

(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 Code.

(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.

(Amended by Stats. 1987, Ch. 910, Sec. 6.)

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 unsafe conditions.

(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.

(Added by Stats. 1983, Ch. 1049, Sec. 1. Effective September 26, 1983.)

HNCHarbors and Navigation Code - HNC4