Volunteer for-hire charter boat inspections catching on
Captain Arnold (Nick) Butziger has been involved with boating safety just about all his adult life. He is the Commander of the North Star Flotilla of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and has organized and taught boating safety programs for Rhode Islanders since the early 70's. However, for the past several years Captain Butziger has turned his attention to a new program. A program that he and a few colleagues started in August, 2011 for Coast Guard sector "Southeast New England". It is the first of its type from Maine to New Jersey. It is a program that aims to provide examinations and examination stickers to for-hire Uninspected Passenger Vessels (UPV).
Uninspected Passenger Vessels (UPV) are commercial vessels allowed to carry one to no more than six passengers for-hire. Charter fishing boats and sailing characters are examples of Uninspected Passenger Vessels. Inspected vessels are commercial vessels allowed to carry over six passengers for-hire. These vessels are required to be inspected by the Coast Guard. Examples are tour boats and party fishing boats that carry a large number of anglers (over six passengers).
I asked Captain Butziger why he has dedicated so much of his life to boating safety and how the new UPV examinations work. Here is what he had to say.
"In May of 1973 we had a charter boat called the Comet that sank off the cost of Rhode Island. It was a sad day, 16 people died. This impacted me greatly. It made me think that something has to be done to ensure boating and charter fishing safety. So ever since then it has been a goal of mine to advocate for boating safety… in order to save lives."
Why should consumers care about vessels that have received UPV Examination stickers?
The sticker demonstrates to consumers in the for-hire or charter industry that the owner of the vessel took the time to be inspected, validating that his/her vessel met all requirements. Captain Butziger said, "The examination and sticker benefits the vessel owners/captains too, in that they can make the claim that their vessel has been inspected by a qualified examiner and meets all Federal Regulations. The sticker is good for two years." said Captain Butziger.
Consumers should care about vessels that have UPV stickers because the sticker means the vessel (such as charter fishing vessel you hire to take you fishing) has been inspected by the Coast Guard (or more than likely by the Coast Guard Auxiliary) and meets all specific regulations contained in the Code of Federal Regulation pertaining to such vessels. Boats without the sticker have to meet the same regulations, however, the sticker means that the vessel has been inspected and that at the time of inspection the vessel was in compliance with regulations.
Who is issuing UPV examinations/stickers?
Captain Nick Butziger said, "We now have six certified examiners with twenty additional now being trained." The need is growing quickly. "There are over 500 vessels that can potentially be inspected in the Coast Guard Sector "Southeast New England.", said Butziger.
What types of items are examined during inspection?
As noted above, all Unexpected Passenger Vessels must meet regulations contained in the Code of Federal Regulations pertaining to such vessels. Items include proper type I life jackets for all passengers, appropriated fire safety equipment and extinguishers, safety equipment such as flares, whistles and/or horns, captain and crew certifications, proper licenses, participation in a random drug testing program as well as a host of other inspection items. Each UPV examination takes about two hours.
For a detailed list of requirements and for more information about the UPV examination program visit www.NorthStarFlotilla.com and click on UPV.
Where's the bite
Striped bass fishing is excellent in the Bay. Phil Matteson of Breachway Bait & Tackle reports good fishing at Ninigret Pond, Charlestown, RI as the worm hatch continues with school bass being taken off the Breachway using plastic baits. A few angles are targeting large bass with eels but activity has been slow. Steve McGonagle reports good fishing in the Providence River Sunday near the crane and cargo ships using live Menhaden. "(We caught) four fish over 28" with the biggest a fat 36". We keep two with many more run offs with no hook sets." Roger Lema reports fishing around Hope Island, "When I was due south (fairly close to the island and rock outcrop), the depth went from 27 feet to 13 as I went over the rock there. I got a real nice 31" striper… then trolled along Prudence Island … About the time I made the turn into (Pine Hill) cove (18 feet of water) I hooked into a 33 1/2" striper… The fish at Hope was feeding on baby scup and the one at Prudence was feeding on Mantis shrimp and crabs. Both fish were caught on a 9ER blue and white shad umbrella rig which was pretty beat up." Mary Dangelo of Maridee Canvas Bait & Tackle, Narragansett said, “Customers continue to catch school bass along the shore with anglers having good luck along the wall at the State Beach near George's Restaurant in Galilee." Ken Landry of Ray's Bait & Tackle, Warwick said Sunday he fished with Captain Steve Anderson of Bare Bones Charters. Ken said, "We trolled Marylyn style jigs around the Ohio Ledge area and landed eight keeper bass in a short amount of time the largest was 34". Bob Oberg fished the Fields Point to Providence Point area in his kayak this weekend. Bob said, "Caught 17 stripers with seven keepers. Nicest fish included two 33", a 34" and a 39". Longest fish was surprisingly fat for this time of year, estimated 28 pounds. All fish caught trolling tube and worm."
Tautog fishing is fair. Mary Dangelo of Maridee Canvass Bait & Tackle said, "Customers caught some nice tautog off Black Point Narragansett this week." Ken Landry of Ray's Bait & Tackle said anglers are catching tautog if the upper reaches of the Providence River around the bulkheads and piers.
Fluke (summer flounder) fishing is slow. Few anglers are targeting fluke at this time. Those fishing Warwick Neck, Austin Hollow and the bridge areas are catching very few keepers at this time.
Bluefish are in and have been for a couple of weeks. They are being caught throughout the Bay mixed in with striped bass. Jim Mead said, "I got a six pound bluefish at Chepiwonoxet beach… It was nearly low tide but this one came by and ate my squid."
Captain Dave Monti has been fishing and shell fishing on Narragansett Bay for over 40 years. He holds a captain's master license, a charter fishing license, and is a member of the Rhode Island Marine Fisheries Council. Your fishing photos in JPEG from, stories, comments and questions are welcome… there's more than one way to catch a fish. Visit Captain Dave's No Fluke website at www.noflukefishing.com; his blog at www.noflukefishing.blogspot.com or e-mail him at email@example.com.