Posted: Fri, 24 Jun 2016 10:37 AM - 4,670 Readers
By: Amanda Brandeis
If you’re heading to the lake this weekend, you may want to think twice about your ride. Some party boat operators on the water are breaking the law.
“It really frustrates me, because we play by the rules,” said Pete Clark, owner of Just For Fun Watercraft Rental. He’s been in the business for nearly 30 years.
The Travis County Game Warden says a boat driver was caught near Mansfield Dam for not having the required documentation to operate a party boat last month. The driver was cited multiple times and arrested for outstanding warrants. The incident left a group of paying customers high and dry.
Several years ago, Clark played a role in creating the rules party boat operators must follow, but says not all do.
“I would say it’s maybe 10 percent of the people,” said Clark. “It’s near and dear to my heart because water safety is important to our industry, the more people that get hurt, the worse it is for our industry.”
He says there are a lot of things customers can do to make sure a company is credible.
“I advise them when they’re booking a party boat, ask questions – ask whether we are in compliance with the law.”
Among some of the documents you should be able to find on the boat: insurance, license, registration and inspection documents. Boats are required to get inspected by Texas Parks and Wildlife each year.
Party boats are also required to have several signs, like an instructional sheet for how to put on a life jacket.
“These operators have been here for quite some time, certainly several years, and there are a couple that kind of fly under the radar – bend and possibly break the rules and don’t adhere to all the policies they should adhere to,” said Clark. “And then you have a bunch of individuals that probably don’t know better.”
A party boat operator license is required on boats that are more than 30 feet long and carry more than six passengers.
You can get your license through Texas Parks and Wildlife. The program provides experience on the water, a course and an exam.