The Recreational Craft Directive and the Boat Safety Certificate.
The Recreational Craft Directive (RCD), applies to all craft, whether built by a professional boatbuilder or an amateur.
With few exceptions all new boats between 2.5 and 24 metres built after June 16th 1998 must meet the requirements of the RCD. The RCD requires that the boat meets certain essential safety requirements covering such things as stability, the scantlings, the installation of gas and electrical systems and some twenty five other items.
Buying a new, completed boat
For boats bought complete, and already fitted out, the
situation is quite straightforward. The
boatbuilder will issue a Declaration of Conformity, will provide an adequate
Owner’s Manual and will mark the hull permanently with a Hull Identification
Number (HIN). The builder’s plate will
carry the “CE” mark. After 2005 the HIN
will become a CIN (Craft Identification Number).
Fitting out a shell
However, you might decide to buy a shell and fit out the
boat for yourself. Often this will be in
the form of a “sailaway” - a shell with the engine already fitted. Alternatively you might start from scratch,
but this is very rarely done. Having
bought the shell and started work you are now the “builder” under the terms of
the RCD and responsible for completing the boat to RCD standards. Finding out about the RCD is not difficult,
and the standards of the Boat Safety Scheme are very similar. We tell you where
to look for help at the end of this article.
You may self certify
The first step is to ensure that the shell builder, or the
supplier of a ‘sailaway’, provides you with an Annex 3 Declaration of
Conformity that the hull and any other work he does - perhaps an engine
installation - complies with the essential safety requirements of RCD at the
stage of construction at which he supplies the craft to you. Once you have
that, you have a firm basis on which to work.
Finishing to the
Under the RCD a boat for use on inland waterways (a
narrowboat, for example) comes into Category D, and so the finished job will
not have to be inspected by a notified body. However, you are required by the
RCD to “self certify”. Bear in mind that
you will need to finish the boat to the RCD requirements and provide a Builder’s
Plate, Hull Identification Number (HIN or CIN after 2005), a Declaration of
Conformity, and a Technical Manual and Owner’s Manual. You may decide to have
each stage overseen by a specialist, who may also do the paperwork for you.
A professional boatbuilder must register for a three letter
Manufacturer’s Identity Code with the British Marine Federation (BMF). This
code identifies the builder on every boat he builds, and is part of a group of
numbers and letters that together make up a CIN. Care must be taken that your Certificate has
a CIN number. An amateur, completing a one-off, should apply to the Royal Yachting
Association (RYA) for a CIN number that contains the letters RYA in place of a
professional builder’s code.
Exceptions to the RCD
There is an exception.
If you intend to keep the boat for more than five years from completion,
then you need not comply with the RCD, but remember that you are going to need
a Boat Safety Certificate in order to obtain a Waterways Licence. Since the
standards are similar it makes good sense to work to the RCD in the first
place. It is also worth remembering that
the value of your boat will increase as you complete more work and there are
obvious insurance implications. New for
2005 all steam powered vessels are exempt from construction and noise emissions
as are “historical replica craft”
RCD and Engines.
In 2005 an amendment to the Directive came into force. Primarily concerned with sound and exhaust emissions, it affects
anyone including DIY builders, who CE mark their craft. Engines have to be certified to be emission compliant
unless they are exempt as ‘historical’, or ‘built for own use’ and not placed
on the market for five years. For sound
emissions all displacement craft will be deemed to comply by doing simple
comply by doing two simple calculations - the Power Displacement (PD) ratio and
the Froude Number. Details of the
straight forward calculations and further information are to be found on the
The RCD and Second Hand
If you are considering buying a second hand boat built after
16 June 1998 (and some boats built earlier) you should check that the boat was
originally sold with an RCD Certificate. Remember that you may use the RCD
Certificate to obtain a waterways licence only for four years from the date of
the original Certificate, after which you will need a four yearly inspection
for a Boat Safety Certificate.
to find out about the RCD
For the amateur builder
1 A number of useful documents including
The Boat Builders Guide are freely
available through the website of the British Marine Federation at
www.britishmarine.co.uk Follow the link
to publications, and select Technical.
2 The Royal Yachting Association (RYA) will
provide a complete HIN number for the amateur builder, including the letters
RYA in place of the professional builder’s code, plus a five digit serial
number. Contact Jessica Bailey at the
RYA Technical Department, on 02380 604201.
The Technical Department will also be able to advise and help with
sources of technical information.
3 The Standards for the Boat Safety Scheme
may be obtained from your navigation authority , from
appropriate British Waterways local offices and or
downloaded free of charge from the Boat Safety Scheme website at
4 If you intend to complete a shell or “sailaway”,
you may find it useful to employ a surveyor or one of the companies which
specialise in RCD work for amateur builders, and will oversee each stage of the
process including relevant documentation