The Recreational Craft Directive
European legislation now requires most new boats to comply with a raft of regulations, and to be given a number as well as a name. This might sound like bureaucracy, but it can help cut down on other red tape.
Recreational Craft Directive
Since 16 June 1998, nearly all new boats built for leisure purposes (including charter vessels) and sold in the European Union have had to comply with the Recreational Craft Directive (94/25/EC) and be 'CE-marked' to show that they comply with what are known as Essential Safety Requirements.
ESRs cover various aspects of design, including freeboard and stability, buoyancy, hull and deck openings, and ventilation. They also specify certain minimum requirements on engine installation, steering, fire protection, firefighting, and fuel, gas and electrical systems. And all boats must be supplied with manuals.
Every boat is constructed to one of a series of specific design categories, which refer to the type of cruising area for which it is built, and significant wave heights and force of wind to be encountered. Boats to be used at sea should be in Category A (Ocean), B (Offshore) or in some cases, particularly with small craft, C (Inshore); most new seagoing motor cruisers are in Category B. For boats used only on inland waterways, Category C or D (Sheltered Waters) should suffice.
Each boat is given a unique hull identification number (HIN), which must be carried in two places: somewhere visible (usually on the outside of the transom, near the top and to starboard), and somewhere concealed inside the boat.
And every boat also carries a builders' plate, with their name, the boat's design category, the maximum number of people for which the boat was designed when underway, the maximum load and the CE mark, with the identification number of the notified body (such as Lloyd's Register, or the Royal Yachting Association).
RCD & the Boat Safety Scheme
New CE-marked boats will be deemed to comply with the Boat Safety Scheme which is in force on most UK inland waterways. But after four years they will have to obtain a Boat Safety Certificate to remain on, or to visit, any of those rivers or canals.
British Waterways, who oversee the BSS, have said that certificates will be granted if, on examination, the boat is found to have 'been maintained to the specification set out in the boatbuilder's or notified body's declaration (of ESR compliance)'.
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