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In short, this means that not only must the skipper of the vessel be in possession of his ‘skippers certificate’, but that the Law requires the boat itself to conform to these regulations and, whether operating on inland or offshore waters, it must have been surveyed/inspected by an authorised surveyor and issued with a Certificate of Fitness (CoF) which must be renewed annually. Complicated? Not really, read all about it below and bring your boat to Leisure Marine for the certificate.
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Marine Notice No 13 of 2007, together with all subsequent updates, details SAMSA policy on small vessel surveys, certification and numbering, and skipper qualification and certification in terms of the MERCHANT SHIPPING (National Small Vessel Safety) REGULATIONS, 2007 (as amended).
In short, this means that not only must the skipper of the vessel be in possession of his
‘skippers certificate’, but that the Law requires the boat itself to conform to these regulations and, whether operating on inland or offshore waters, it must have been surveyed/inspected by an authorised surveyor and issued with a Certificate of Fitness (CoF) which must be renewed annually.
These guidance notes are based generally on the requirements for the issue of Category R (inland waters) CoF, but the general principles are applicable for all categories. The question of WHO is straight forward, as EVERY BOAT-OWNER is required to ensure that he has a current CoF for his boat and every skipper (whether or not he is the owner) is responsible for ensuring that the boat he intends to skipper has a current Certificate of Fitness. Whilst the Certificate of Fitness relates to the condition of the boat, it is issued to the boat-owner, which means that if you purchase a boat, new or used, you as the new owner must have it surveyed and a Certificate of Fitness issued and renewed annually.
There is a natural tendency for us all to think about our boat in terms of looks, size, speed and performance, but it is seldom that (particularly inland) boat owners boast about the safety of their vessel. These regulations are designed to ensure that all boats adhere to a basic standard, and are equipped with certain basic equipment, in an attempt to ensure that the vessel is seaworthy (dam-worthy) and that the crew is boating in safety.
We tend to be highly armchair critical when a ferry sinks with huge loss of life and is found not to have been carrying sufficient lifejackets, and the first question on peoples lips recently when a pleasure boat sank locally was about the lifejackets, so why is it that so many small vessels are launched without those very items on board, particularly when the “crew” is our family and friends.
The regulations in general are uncomplicated and fairly simple to comply with. They cover the hull and deck, flotation (see below), steering and emergency steering provision, electrical installation, fuel tanks and piping, motor installation and propeller, trailer, lifejackets, safety and general equipment, as well as a general inspection. Other than the flotation requirement, for the majority of craft on inland waters there may have been a small amount of work required to obtain initial approval, the emergency steering fitment being one common example, and we have found that the purchase of safety equipment items has, on most boats, been the only significant expense. The good news is, of course, that most of these items are a once-off purchase and are available for future renewals. The date for compliance with these regulations was March 2009 for final implementation, and so, apart from newcomers to the boating scene, the inspections have now become a routine annual event.
The flotation requirement, in the form of a flotation, or buoyancy, certificate, was originally the subject of a great deal of uninformed discussion but in fact became law for NEW boats manufactured from 2002 with a window period granted to August 2009 for older, Cat R only, vessels. Clearly ALL vessels should now comply and be in possession of a Buoyancy Certificate, without which a Certificate of Fitness, may not be issued. Many Certificates issued originally contained an expiry date which has now passed, and in these instances the onus is on the current Surveyor to confirm the condition of the buoyancy, which may require him to extend the expiry date or request the owner to have the buoyancy certificate amended/extended by the original manufacturer or issuing contractor. This may involve an addition cost depending on the work involved and is at the discretion of the Surveyor.
Complicated, not really! Come to Leisure Marine, we can take you through the whole process. Whilst the inspection is not a long operation we recommend that you leave the boat with us for a day or so as it is impossible to guarantee a surveyor will be available at short notice. We will run through the basics with you on arrival and complete a preliminary form which will indicate the obvious shortfalls on your boat and which will give us the info we require to complete the CoF. There is obviously a cost associated with the Certificate, (currently, Jan 2017, approx. R900 for a new certificate, R600 for a renewal). This fee is subject to change, and does not include the cost of any work or equipment which may be required to complete the Certificate of Fitness.