The operator leases you and your party a boat for the afternoon. It's your private pleasure boat now, and not subject to passenger limit regulations. Then the operator has you hire them as the crew for your "private charter".
But for this to work, YOU, the customer have to assume full control and responsibility for the vessel. You have to pay for the fuel, you have to pay for all of the food and beverages, and you have to pay for the crew, etc.
And (and this is a *big* and!) if anything goes wrong, YOU are legally liable for it. That's right. If anything goes wrong, someone gets hurt or worse, a collision, whatever .. it's on you, the customer. Remember, you did a "bareboat" charter. You signed a contract saying you are in full control of the vessel.
That's a scary thought, isn't it? You go out for an afternoon of fun with your friends, something happens, and now you're on the hook for damages!
Fortunately, the US Coast Guard got wise to this a while back, resulting in the Passenger Vessel Safety Act of 1993. The Safety Act closed the Demise/Bareboat charter passenger count loophole by statutorily defining *any* charter with a crew provided, carrying more than six (6) passengers, as a Small Passenger Vessel (SPV) and as such, subject to USCG inspection requirements, regardless of who has control of the vessel or who's paying for the fuel.
Unfortunately, abuses of the "Demise" charter scam continues. Operators using uninspected vessels continue to offer their services, telling prospective clients that "those rules don't apply, because this is a private charter."
What they're not telling is that the loophole was closed more than 20 years ago, that the charter they're offering is illegal, and that if anything goes wrong on a Demise aka "bareboat" charter, it's the customer who's legally and financially liable.
Caveat emptor, my friends! If you have a group of 7 or more people, make sure you're doing your trip with an Inspected Passenger Vessel, and if the charter operator starts using words like "demise" or "bareboat charter", don't walk - run in the other direction!
*Originally posted by Sailing Montauk