ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) - There are still questions surrounding the credentials of a captain who chartered a group of college students in the Gulf during rough waters. A crew member and student were swept away when the crew member tried to rescue him.
Their bodies were found days later and the Coast Guard is continuing to investigate. Meanwhile, USCG says it is seeing an alarming increase in the number of advertisements for non-licensed charter boats - raising concerns about the safety of tourists, boaters, swimmers, and anyone enjoying the waters of the Bay Area.
On any given day, dozens of ads for chartered boats appear on Craigslist and Facebook.
The Coast Guard says most of them are posted by legitimate, Coast Guard-licensed captains, but too many of them are not.
If you are paying to be on a boat, the captain is required by law to be licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard. If the vessel is carrying more than six people, the boat must have a Certificate of Inspection.
Brian Knapp with the Investigation Division of the U.S. Coast Guard says, if you're chartering a boat, ask to see the captain's license, which should be in a red booklet.
"You wouldn't get on an airplane with a pilot who is not licensed,” Knapp said. “You wouldn't get on a passenger boat with a captain that is not properly licensed by the Coast Guard."