So, you have decided to buy a Category E vessel in South Africa for leisure activities. It’s a small, motorised boat, a perfect little boat for unwinding on South African seas. But, does your vessel pass the Construction requirements for a Category E vessel? Is it Category E certified? In this article, let’s see the construction requirements for a Category E vessel in South Africa.

Construction Requirements for a Category E Boat in South Africa

The Category E vessels in South Africa are defined by their area of operation. A Category E vessel cannot go further than 1 nautical mile from the shore or 15 nautical miles from a safe port of entry.

These Category E boats (and all other category vessels) have to follow certain construction requirements in South Africa. These construction requirements are mandated by SAMSA, the South African Maritime Safety Authority.

Construction Requirements – Regulation 6

Complying with the construction requirements for a category E vessel in South Africa is mandatory. Failing to do so may result in severe consequences. The vessel must meet the construction criteria mentioned in the document except if accompanied by a letter or certificate showing why it may not, can not, or does not comply with certain criteria.

Construction Plans – Regulation 4

As Category E vessels in South Africa are below 9 metres, they do not require a detailed construction plan. However, it is mandatory to provide photographs assessing the vessel’s construction and buoyancy certificate.

In the case of commercial vessels, you will require a construction plan. SAMSA demands these plans at least seven working days before the construction of the vessel begins. Furthermore, you will also have to submit plans if there are any modifications to the vessel’s design.

Docking and Slipping – Regulations 5 and 23

Your Category E vessel either needs an LGSC (Local General Safety Certificate) or a COF (Certificate of Fitness). On the first LGSC/COF inspection of your vessel, the surveyor will inspect the external structures and fittings of the vessel thoroughly.

LGSC or COF has to be renewed annually to maintain the standard of your vessel.

Under LGSC, there will be a thorough inspection of your vessel, internally and externally, including water connection fastening. Then there’s the inspection of water suction and discharge valves once every two years. And once every four years, the shafts are drawn, tapers are blued and non-destructive testing (NDT) is carried out on the shaft and propeller.

Under COF, there is an annual inspection for trailer-borne vessels. It is to ensure the vessel’s structure, equipment, appliance arrangements and materials comply with the regulations. If the vessel is not trailer-borne, then the principles of the LGSC survey will also apply to COF inspections.

Kill Switch – Regulation 7(5) and (6)

A Kill Switch is one of the most common requirements for Category E Vessels of 9m or less with an engine of 15 hp and above. The skipper has to attach the kill switch to their PFD at all times except when launching or beaching the vessel through the surf.

Built-in Buoyancy

As Category E vessels largely will not have a life raft onboard, they must demonstrate built-in buoyancy or one-compartment flooding survival.

Built-in buoyancy refers to staying afloat when the vessel is fully flooded, swamped, or capsized. In this scenario, the sinking vessel can provide a platform for the vessel crew to stay afloat and stay away from the dangers of the water. The built-in buoyancy must be made of foam or approved plastic bottles that are not affected by oil or oil products to satisfy the authority.

The buoyancy standards differ from vessel to vessel, largely depending on the material of the hull. Upon successful inspection and demonstration, SAMSA will procure a buoyancy certificate, confirming the provision of built-in buoyancy. The buoyancy certificate must be kept onboard at all times along with LGSC/COF.

In case the demonstration fails or if the vessel is incapable of built-in buoyancy, then a life raft must be kept onboard. The lift-raft should be enough for all persons onboard in case of adversities such as flooding, capsizing, or swamping.

The Category E Safety Survey Checklist

So, these are the essential construction requirements for a Category E boat in South Africa. We only have provided the key highlights in this article. For the full checklist, we highly recommend you read the Safety Survey Checklist for Category E Commercial and Pleasure Vessels.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a Category E Skipper’s License in South Africa, feel free to contact Sail and Power SA. With our experience spanning over three decades in the marine industry, we would be more than happy to help you become a skipper in South Africa.