Hours of fun on the water increases knowledge and experience
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) Marine Notice No 13 of 2007 and 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, the regulations mean that ANY ONE, in charge of ANY BOAT, on ANY INLAND OR OFFSHORE WATER, is legally required to conform to these regulations.
Way back in 2007 there were lots of very experienced skippers unhappy with having to take an exam to allow them to do what they had been doing for years, but fortunately those times are behind us and the Certificate of Competence is accepted as a welcome introduction to the knowledge and experience required to be a competent skipper, especially by those who are totally new to boating.
Make no mistake, the confidence that comes with knowledge and experience will always show through and will be apparent to the others on the boat, be they family or friends, and their level of enjoyment will be enhanced if they can relax, confident in your ability to safely and responsibly manage any situation.
Apart from the logical reasons, there are also other aspects to be considered. The SAPS Water Wing has been equipped with new boats and these are being used to enforce the new regulations. The insurance industry will not pay out claims if the skipper does not have his Certificate of Competence, and in the event of a serious accident the uncertified skipper could be left wide open to penalty claims, no matter what the real circumstances, and finally, for those wishing to purchase a boat on finance the Certificate of Competence is a requirement of the finance houses.
So, who should be taking the exam? Everyone who owns a boat or wishes to skipper a boat, and remember that if the skipper is going to ski or wakeboard, then whoever is going to drive the boat must also be qualified.
The good news is that you can take the course right here at Leisure Marine in Midrand. Tuition is arranged over two sessions, with theory on a Tuesday evening and the exam and practical (if necessary) on the Saturday morning of the same week. The practical is at a nearby dam and Leisure Marine provides a boat and launching vehicle and the examination takes place at Leisure Marine. The exam itself is designed to test your understanding of the course (rather than spelling or grammar) and is mostly common-sense boating (and related matters from the course) questions and the pass rate to date has been excellent.
The Certificate of Competence is issued is for life, and does not have to be retaken unless it is cancelled due to fraud or some serious transgression.