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No single primary source exists to provide current and would-be participants in recreational charter boat operations in the United States with a basic legal understanding of their rights and obligations. The relevant federal maritime standards, laws, regulations, and judicial interpretations are scattered in isolated codebooks, reporters, and bulletins. Moreover, the governing body of law for boat chartering is admiralty law, which has been shaped throughout the centuries primarily by the traditions and dictates of the commercial shipping and shipbuilding industries. As a result, the logic behind the admiralty framework tends to be obscure when viewed in the context of a recreational charter boat operation. Nonetheless, a basic tenet of the American legal system is that the individual undertakes to ascertain and abide by the legal authorities applicable to his situation. This research compiles and synthesizes the significant legal requirements of the federal maritime law as they apply to boat chartering. Legal and historical background is provided where it is deemed essential to an understanding of the law. Examination of the legal relationships among the charter boat owner, the charterer, and the crew member reveals their duties, rights, and remedies in various types of charter arrangements. Preparation of this comprehensive overview of the federal maritime law in the context of recreational boat charters has exposed certain inconsistencies which lead to misconceptions about proper compliance. Analysis reveals certain areas of the law which are inappropriate and indeed burdensome for charter operations. Chief among these problems are the confusion surrounding and the stringency of the requirements for a bareboat charter. Exposure of the problem areas suggests directions to take when seeking legal solutions which fit the special characteristics and circumstances of a recreational charter boat operation.