8 On Your Side investigation makes waves for rent-a-captain company

TAMPA, Fla.(WFLA) - A company that offers boat captains for hire was pretty upset last year by a series of 8 On Your Side reports.

Now, Anchor Rides credits 8 On Your Side with exposing weaknesses that led to changes.  

The company provides captains to navigate congestion on the waterways during events like Gasparilla.

The captains stay sober so boat owners can party and not worry about it.

"It's a really safe and affordable service and this is a great way to augment your experience," Zach Hatraf, Anchor Rides CEO told us in an interview last year.

Customers looking for captains go to the website and pick one.

Last year, Anchor Rides sailed into choppy waters.

8 On Your Side found that not all of the captains it advertised for hire on its website were in fact captains.

"We know that, yes, in order to drive somebody else's boat, to be a skipper for hire, it doesn't require a captain's license," Hatraf pointed out.

The day of Gasparilla, the water got a little rougher for Anchor Rides.

Nathan Stasio captained a boat during the invasion for eight hours without incident. 

On the way back to Clearwater, law enforcement arrested Stasio for boating under the influence and possession of drug paraphernalia.

We also found that Stasio had an earlier DUI arrest.

Hatraf wasn't happy with our reports.

He now credits us with instigating change instead of trouble.  

"Believe it or not, I credit your story last year for many of the changes we have made over the last year," Hatraf wrote in a text.

All Anchor Ride captains are now required to be Coast Guard licensed.

That means they are trained in CPR, First Aid, safety and navigation. They are subject to a Homeland Security background check and random drug testing.

That increases safety for passengers and crew.  

"A US Coast Guard licensed captain is less likely to put their passengers in harm's way," he added.

If you know of something that you think should be investigated, call our 8 On Your Side Helpline at 1-800-338-0808. Contact Steve Andrews at

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