Small Vessel Regulations
The Merchant Shipping (National Small Vessel Safety) regulations, 2007, provide the basic rules for boating on inland waters and at sea. They form part of the greater regulatory regime which covers maritime matters, specifically in this case the Merchant Shipping Act, 57 of 1951. Municipalities and other local authorities may make additional requirements for boating.
The regulations are applicable to boats used solely for sport or recreation (pleasure) and also to licensed (commercial) vessel operations. Licenced (commercial) vessels include all boats not used solely for sport or recreation. Examples of commercial vessels include boats and personal watercraft (jet skis) being hired out to or used for tourism; floating rafts and house boats that are hired out and/or used for tourism activities; normal commercial operations like fishing or transport; law enforcement and police vessels; rescue boats operated by NSRI etc.
The regulations apply to sport and recreation boats and licenced vessels of all sizes operating on inland waters. Seagoing pleasure boats of less than 100 gross tonnes (approximately 24 meters in length) and licenced vessels of less than 25 gross tonnes (approximately 14 meters in length) operating at sea are also required to comply with the regulations.Owners of licenced (commercial) vessels must apply for licencing and submit their vessels for a survey to the nearest SAMSA office.
Owners and/or skippers of pleasure boats can obtain the required numbers and inspections from either SAMSA appointed small boat surveyors or Authorised Agency safety officers. Inland waters mean all rivers and dams legally accessible to the public for boating. Whereas Category R includes the waters contained within ports, fishing harbours, lagoons, tidal rivers and inland waters.