|The Boat Safety Scheme|
Before you can obtain a waterways licence you are going to need a Boat Safety Certificate. The BS Scheme grew out of the need to minimise the risk of fire and explosions aboard boats, was pioneered by the Environment Agency and British Waterways and is now required (and sensibly so) by most navigation authorities.
In one sense you can think of the scheme as an MOT for boats, but its scope is wider because it must include all the gas and electrical installations as well as engine and fuel lines, fire safety equipment and so forth. Unlike the MOT Certificate a BS Certificate lasts for four years from the date of issue.
However if the boat is less than four years old most authorities will issue a Waterways Licence against the Declaration of Conformity (DoC) which was issued by the builder under the terms of the Recreational Craft Directive - the standards are similar - and supplied to the owner when the boat was new. However, at the end of the first four years of the life of the boat a BS Certificate is going to be needed - and every four years thereafter.
What does the certificate cover ?
The scheme is run by a small team from Watford and their web site at www.boatsafetyscheme.com carries all the relevant details, check lists and downloadable chapters of The Essential Guide covering such items as fuel and engine systems, electrical and gas installations, domestic and fire fighting equipment and pollution control. You can obtain a copy by post, by ordering on line, or by downloading the current edition as a .pdf. The BS Office also has a quick reference leaflet - what in the examination will be checked.
Booking a Boat Safety Examination
Finding an examiner is the first step and this is usually quite easy. Lists of examiners are held on the Boat Safety Scheme web site where they are sorted by county, and on the Waterscape site. You can also obtain details direct from the Boat Safety Office, and your local navigation authority office, or examiners often advertise in the familiar canal and river magazines.
What about shells and ‘sailaway’
An empty shell in which there is nothing which is covered by the BSS Standards - for example no engine, no electrical systems or gas systems - must be licensed if afloat but at this stage the boat does not require the owner to produce a BS Certificate to obtain a licence. This means that an empty shell may towed to your mooring to await fitting out.
sailaway is generally a shell with engine installed but no other
equipment. For a boat like this on their
waters British Waterways and possibly other navigation authorities will license
the boat for one year on the basis of a declaration provided by the boatbuilder
- known as an Annex 3 Declaration - See RCD p**. If the fitting out is completed at the end
of that year then the navigation authority will accept the full RCD DoC routinely. If fitting out is not completed by the end of
the first year then the authority will require a BS examination in order to
license the boat for the second year onwards. You may arrange for the examiner to return and extend the certificate to
cover the other completed work and you may be able to arrange for the first fee
to cover subsequent visits.
BSS Boat Safety Scheme
Willow Grange, Watford, Herts WD17 4QA
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