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What documents are required to start boating?

By 30th Jun 2021Start Boating

In this article we aim to clearly lay-out what documents are required to start boating in South Africa. As both the skipper and the boat needs to comply with boating requirements to get you on the water legally.

  1. Skipper’s license

When you operate a boat or marine vessel under 9 meter in saltwater or freshwater powered by an outboard motor over 15 horsepower, a skipper’s license is required.

This article clearly explains all the details about the license as each category has its own requirement regarding water time and experience.

There are various SAMSA approved dealers and organizations that offer skipper courses around the country.

  1. The SAMSA VHF / SRC Course Qualification

Another course that is required when operating a boat that is heading out to sea is the Marine Radio course which teaches emergency radio procedures and everyday operating techniques.

The Short Range Certificate (SRC) is for DSC / VHF radios operating up to 40 miles from shore.

As a radio is such an important piece of safety equipment onboard a marine vessel, it is crucial for users to understand and operate the equipment correctly. The course outline covers the following topics:

  • Basics of Radio operation and the correct channels to use
  • Distress, emergency and medical assistance procedure
  • Making ship and shore telephone calls
  • Emergency position indicating radio beacons.
  • Digital selective calling using simulators
  • Global marine distress and softy signals and systems
  • Search and Rescue

The 1-day course is taught by using radio simulators and will be examined by a written test and practical assessment. All new VHF sets are either fitted, or can be interfaced with GPS to allow your position to be sent as part of a Distress Alert.

The course price ranges between R 1 600 – R 2 500.

Your nearest dealer can advise you on available courses in your area.

  1. Buoyancy Certificate

When purchasing a boat new or used, make sure that it is accompanied by a buoyancy certificate. This certificate is valid for 5 years.

The buoyancy of a boat should replace the need to provide a life-raft, which can only be done when there is sufficient buoyancy to provide a stable level platform upon which the crew can be secured during an emergency such as capsized, overturned or flooded.

The buoyancy of the boat must represent a figure of 60% of the gross weight of the boat. The gross weight of the boat includes, the fuel, outboards, vessel itself, persons, safety equipment and so forth.

Buoyancy Certificates can only be issued by a SAMSA officer or authorized agency safety officer. The following criteria must be met.

  • The vessel must be clearly identifiable by the photographs or serial numbers;
  • The basic dimensions and build details of the vessel must be provided to allow the reader of the document aware of any alterations and so that the boat is easy identifiable;
  • The Issuer of the Buoyancy certificate must be easy identifiable, for example the vessel builder, safety officer, private surveyor;
  • The quantity, the type of buoyancy used and the distribution thereof must be clearly described on the document;
  • The net weight of the boat must be stated on the certificate;
  • Any comments, notes must be clearly presented on the document, especially when bottles are used with a specific lifespan;
  • The certificate must state compliance with the requirements of regulation 6 and annex 1, specifying clearly what is being certified.

It is important to insure that the buoyancy document meets the criteria as stated above to avoid unnecessary expenditure on additional certification.

  1. Certificate of Fitness (COF) or Water Worthy Certificate

All boats, except if powered by 15 horsepower or less, must obtain a certificate of fitness from a SAMSA officer, safety officer or an authorized agency.

This is obtained by having the required safety equipment onboard your vessel along with clear identification for the vessel (boat number, which is obtained when registering your boat with SAMSA). A certificate of Fitness is valid for 12 months, provided no structural changes were made to the vessel. The COF certificate must be onboard at all times.

Category C requirements: (most common)

Some items on the safety equipment list may expire over time and not all items available on the market are authorized as per SAMSA requirements. Remember to check your safety equipment regularly and do sufficient research on SAMSA approved safety equipment before purchasing.

  • A capsize bottle with a lanyard the width of the boat clearly marked with the boat number containing the following items:
    • Two red hand held distress flares
    • Two Red rocket parachute flares
    • One orange smoke flouting marker
    • Space blankets
    • Waterproof torch, batteries and a spare globe (when operating at night)
    • A handheld 12v spotlight with its own battery
    • An approved first aid kit with a green cross on the container to be easy identified
    • A Suitable magnetic handheld compass
    • A Fire extinguisher – one per outboard motor with 1.5 kg dry powder dated and serviced
    • Capsize rope
    • Sea anchor prepped for launching with a trip rope ready to use
    • Suitable chain not less that 3 meters in length for boats under 6 meters
    • Bow eye and stern eye
    • Anchor Ballard
    • Suitable scuppers
    • Emergency steering
    • Identity sheet which and be red, orange or yellow
    • 1 litre of drinking water per person that the boat may transport or have onboard
    • Approved Level 150 life jackets as per the passenger capacity of the boat
    • Approved fuel tanks (jerry cans) in accordance with SAMSA regulations
    • Spares and tools to carry our emergency repairs if needed
    • Air – Bellows and puncture repair kit (applicable to inflatable boats)
    • Bailing Bucket
    • Navigational lights
    • All equipment must be clearly market with the boat registration number
  1. Boat Registration number

Your boat needs to be registered with SAMSA. A boat registration number acts as a number plate for your boat. This must be clearly visible on both sides of the boat at all times.

The boat number can be printed by the owner but must be displayed in a bold easy readable font. The minimum size for the number to be displayed is 100 mm high and the letter 25 mm wide. The last letter of the registration indicates the category in which the boat’s COF is issued.

This must be displayed in contrasting colors that it is easy readable on the back ground of the boat hull.

The registration number is issued to the owner, therefor it is the responsibility of the owner to remove the boat registration number once the boat is sold or permanently taken off the water.

You must have the boat registration number before you take your boat for its certificate of fitness, as the number must be displayed on the boat in order for you to meet the requirements for the COF certificate.

These are the basic requirements to get yourself and your boat on the water legally. Suzuki dealers will gladly assist you through this process applying their years of boating industry knowledge to insure an easy entrance into boating!

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