designing for legal size/weight/crew/captaining limits

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by big_dreamin, Sep 19, 2016.

  1. big_dreamin
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    big_dreamin Junior Member

    Something that never occurred to me when puttering around on lakes or having someone else piloting things offshore... I realize i'm surprisingly ignorant about what exactly is actually legally required in terms of crews, training, and who is allowed to do what above boats, ships, and private yachts.

    Being curious (even if just for curiosity's sake) about everything from 30 foot sailers up to the 500 foot monster yachts that exist by handfuls on the high end, I was wondering what the "classes" are that things fit in, including under different circumstances? (ie just piloting it for your friends and family, vs a handful of paying passengers, setting something up to be dual use charter when you aren't using it to cover some of the expenses/make it a business expense, or whatever)

    I mean on one hand I can sit and sketch my own designs of wishful fantasy with larger future blue water designs that I hope at some future point to wander the planet with and figuring out what passive cashflow income would be required to support the fuel and similar costs.

    Since crew is such an increasing percentage of cost as things get bigger I find myself wanting to design around those limits (ie know what the max I could theoretically legally be allowed to handle regardless of perhaps uncounted confidence/experience - and avoiding dumb mistakes like making it two feet too long or ten cubic yards too much space by accident) since i'd rather "steer it myself" and have extended family and friends help do jobs if they're a part of the travel. Yet there may be cases where legally they CANT do those roles.


    So where do I learn what all the categories and classes are (maybe in simpler language than some of the random browsing i've done where it wasn't that clear to me/maybe i'm not familiar with all terminology yet), how much training is required for each to "do it yourself" (or have those you trust do it instead of hiring out), and how laws change over country borders? (as in no clue how a foreign flagged ship where laws may be different applies when visiting 'foreign' ports even if you technically owned the yacht and it was a flag of convenience for simplicity)
     
  2. Ike
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    Ike Senior Member

    You're question is rather confusing but I'll take a stab at it.

    The answer is simply you should be doing a lot of reading, because the answers to your questions are all available on line, but it is evident from your post that you are at a point where you really don't have enough information to ask intelligent questions:

    starting with boats; There are recreational boats and commercial boats:
    Recreational boats are generally privately owned and operated. No license necessary but in some states you may be required to take a boating course. In the US there is no limit to the size of a recreational boat, but practical matters (cost, manning etc) limit most people.

    The USCG sets rules for some systems on recreational boats, fuel, electric, ventilation of engine compartment, flotation, capacity and so on. But they are very minimal rules. In fact the industries own rules set by the American Boat And Yacht Council (similar to the Society Of Automotive Engineers: SAE) are more strict than the USCG rules.

    Then there are commercial boats: What you are referring to is passenger carrying vessels. There are many other categories, fishing, cargo, tugs and so on. But I will limit it to passenger carrying vessels.

    Passenger vessels are those that take people for money. The law is specific "any valuable consideration" This even includes your friends paying for gas or sharing the costs of the voyage. Operators must be licensed by the US Coast Guard. For vessels carrying 6 or less passengers for hire there is a basic license exam which requires knowledge of navigation, rules of the road, safety regulations, etc. and at least 1 year's documented experience.

    However for six or less the requirements for the boat are the same as for a recreational boat.

    More than that requires a higher level of licensing and experience. And, the boats must be inspected by the USCG and there are very specific and strict standards for construction of these boats. The plans for the boat must be inspected and approved by the USCG before construction begins. During construction it is periodically inspected and if everything is ok, eventually certified by the USCG. It also has to be inspected annually through it's life. The Captain must be licensed and on large vessel the crew may have to licensed. There are various grades of license for ship crews.

    That's just a start. Go to your library and borrow some books on boating and boats. Learn the lingo. The best book for basic boating is Chapman's Boating and Seamanship. You can buy one in any bookstore or online but it isn't cheap. It is a very thick book. So borrow one first.
     
  3. big_dreamin
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    big_dreamin Junior Member

    Oh I agree, I don't yet know what right questions to ask offhand, because i've never been the responsible party for having to figure out or be legally liable for anything before. :) I'm sure everything i'm curious about is out there, I just don't know how better to ask it yet.

    On the recreational/commercial, i'm curious if there's ambiguity - I know on one side recreational is personal use obviously, and commercial obviously is for everyone else generally owned by business, but the situation I had in mind like "letting friends or extended family" use (with or without compensation or at least covering costs of use) changed anything. I'm curious if there is any way to have one or more paying people on board a recreational boat just like people use Lyft/Uber to give taxi like car rides, or smaller amounts of cargo. (not a vessel intended to make money as a cargo vessel - but more like a pickup where you haul some stuff on the weekends for people in the bed)

    For passengers for hire situation, if the extended family was say 10 people I brought for free, I could have up to 6 passengers 'for hire' in addition? (not just 6 total)

    Is there a similar situation for cargo where below some limit I could charge to haul something, before it's considered full commercial rules?


    Btw I have that book in my library. Somewhere. :) Actually it's in a box with others i've picked up, but once I dig it up i'll set about reading more intently. I'm just trying to hash out some of the guidelines right now.
     
  4. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

    There are several categories for commercial vessels. For example, commercial fishing vessels have little regulation compared to passenger carrying.
     
  5. Ike
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    Ike Senior Member

    The simple answer is "no". but it gets complex. Taking your friends for a ride without compensation, or letting them use your boat without compensation, or even buying their own gas and food, etc is fine. hauling stuff for them as a favor, without compensation, is fine.

    Letting them use the boat with compensation, is renting, or bare boat charter. Bareboat, meaning you do not provide a Captain, or crew. Providing a captain or crew is charter, and you must have a USCG license for six or less, or if more, a higher grade license.

    Carrying cargo is called "coastwise trade" and requires a license. The vessel may not necessarily have to be inspected, but that depends on a lot of things, size of the vessel, nature of the cargo, routes, etc. But the operator must be licensed.

    Also, to make things more complex, if you are operating on a body of water that the Federal government does not have jurisdiction on, what are called sole state waters, such as many of the lakes in Minnesota, all the States have very similar rules to those of the USCG.

    As far as I know, there is no exception in the rules for a Lyfte/uber type situation. As I said previously, the law says "any valuable consideration" that passes between passenger and owner/operator is carrying passengers for hire. In the past even giving your buddy a six pack of beer for taking you fishing has been considered a "valuable consideration", but that has been relaxed a bit.

    To make matters more complex, if you a carrying passengers or cargo out of the US, to say, Canada, then it is international trade and you have to comply with both country's rules, and the other country's rules may be far stricter, or not as strict. Depends on the country. Canada's are about the same as ours, with a few exceptions.
     
  6. Waterwitch
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    Waterwitch Junior Member

    You might also consider what stipulations insurance companies have for chartering etc. Most marinas will not allow you to keep a boat at their facility with out insurance.
     
  7. Squidly-Diddly
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    Squidly-Diddly Senior Member

    IMO he means "Why aren't boats designed just under legal limits?" similar to how

    all the Japanese motorcycle makers came out with 699CC bikes the year a big tariff hit imported bikes over 700CC.

    Prior to that the 750cc was the biggest selling "big bike" in the USA.

    Would make sense that someone would make sailboats just under the limit for no reg, and a boat just under the "six pack lic" max size, etc.
     
  8. Stumble
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    Stumble Senior Member

    They do. There is a reason that there are a lot of 64' yachts, they are small enough to not need pilots anywhere in the US. It's the same reason there is an entire class of 99 Tonn crew and service vessels, they are the maximum size before you need the next larger captains license.

    If you identify the waters you are interested in and the licensing requirements there you will find vessels just under the next step up.
     
  9. Ike
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    Ike Senior Member

    Waterwitch makes a good point. Most recreational boat insurance is void if you carry passengers for hire, or cargo. You have to have a commercial policy.

    As far as "under the limits" goes, I really don't know what that means with respect to recreational boats. Carry not enough lifejackets? too much horsepower for boat size? Boat standards are manufacturer requirements. Carriage requirements (life saving equipment, etc ) are operator requirements.

    There are basically no regs for sailboats except a Hull ID number and if they are operated at night, appropriate nav lights. So what is under the limits? Most boat requirements are stated in maximums. No bigger outboard than XX, no more weight than XXXX, and so on. Under the limits would be exceeding the requirements.

    Let me Clarify that statement about sailboats. If they have Gas inboards then they have to comply with fuel electric and ventilation regs, but that is really an exception because most sailboat auxiliaries are diesels. No Fed regs for recreational sailboats with diesels.
     
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  10. big_dreamin
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    big_dreamin Junior Member

    Yes that's the closest analogy. I was curious if there were laws for size/length, just for tonnage, or both for instance. Just wondering what the "classes" are for whats ultimately a personal use yacht even if you consciously straddle categories a bit - what I mean is one person might try to make it a business writeoff by doing some minimum volume of business but still using privately though they choose to have it owned by the business. Another might be sure they don't get "compensation" but happen to give "free vacations" to choice business clients no different than how a CEO might offer weekend parties and such. It may or may not be a legal business expense but it might at least be part of a tax writeoff then under entertaining clients type codes. (note this is not meant to be asking for tax advice - just trying to expand a little on motivations and interests)

    Waters of interest would be starting in Lake Superior and mostly puttering around there for a few years, eventually going out to the east coast of the US and potentially taking off to some adventure - carribean, south america, over to europe or whatever. Alternately it might end up on the west coast such as washington or oregon and eventually wander towards hawaii and the south pacific at times. Long term it might come with moving to another country like Australia or New Zealand for instance. So starting within the US and eventually wandering global oceans would be the goal.

    Again the main interest would be to mostly be having with competent family and perhaps choice trusted friends in lieu of normal paid crew since that's such a big expense. And it would be for a motorsailer of some sort, or even preferential powerboat with a more minor sailing rig mostly intended to take advantage of downwind available wind for extra speed and economy at times but wouldn't be sail only because I believe the best solution for big weather is a big outboard.

    It's still super-early in the process of this but I figure at least I should know what kind of size classes to keep in mind as I pencil things around. :)


    Like for instance I pretty much remember hearing the different classes, weights and such for say aircraft or over the road vehicles in the US. Like a 9990lb trailer you can haul with a class C license but 10,000lbs usually requires a CDL. Or for planes you have to have a copilot above a certain weight class so all the light jets come in under, and the medium business class regional jets come in anywhere over. (but under the next class of large jets capable of intercontinental travel) So someone who wants to be the pilot for their own personal jet can only do it under the weight class unless their wife is a certified pilot to be the copilot for instance. Or you can have a single passenger only under sport pilot designation, sharing travel costs is fine but compensation is not.

    I just want to map out the same rough understandings for boats and personal yachts.
     
  11. Ike
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    Ike Senior Member

    How this is done is most of those super mega yachts, and even some smaller ones do not actually belong to the "owner". They belong to the company or corporation. So business use becomes a write off. Entertaining business associates, etc becomes business and is a business expense. Of course there are some limitations on the amount of time it can be used for personal use. So in effect the yacht belongs to the CEO or company president, but on the books it belongs to the company or corporation.
     
  12. big_dreamin
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    big_dreamin Junior Member

    Yes, I understand that side of the equation, my curiosity is exclusively on the "reducing paid crew burdens" if you have family and friends able competent and willing to fulfill the crew requirements whenever you want to set out to sea. Like if "having the business own it" makes it 100% commercial crew requirements which get really expensive thats a nonstarter... if it's mostly irrelevant (to what is legally required for the crewing) then letting the business own it on paper may be better.
     
  13. CDBarry
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    CDBarry Senior Member

    Paul Kamen, Alan Hugenot and I covered some of this in a 2008 SNAME paper give at CPBS, "U.S. Flag Group Owned Superyachts; A New Market for Designers, Shipyards and Ship Managers".

    Some references from this paper that might be useful:

    Marine Safety Center, “Tonnage Technical Policy” Technical Note (MTN) NO. 01-99, CHANGE 7, March 29, 2005

    COMDTPUB P16700.4, Guidance on the Passenger Vessel Safety Act of 1993, NVIC 7-94, September 30, 1994

    Gow, P., Hagemann, E., McComb, R., and Watson, P., “MV City of San Francisco: Design and Operations” Marine Technology, July, 1986, SNAME

    Cashman, R., The Small Passenger Vessel”, Marine Technology, October, 1985, SNAME
     
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  14. fcfc
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    fcfc Senior Member

    They do.

    See http://www.swan78.com/

    " this new blue-water Swan 78, a direct descendant of the original Swan 80 and 82 models of the past. She is slightly shorter overall - in order to meet the EC 24.00 metre length overall limitation"

    The boat is 23.98m length. The recreational craft limit is 24m. The boat is 2cm (3/4 inch) shorter than the max limit.
     

  15. fcfc
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    fcfc Senior Member

    Beware that money may change the rules.

    For the swan 78 in my previous post, for a privately operated boat (no paid crew, no paying passengers), you don't need ANY licence in France. I think in Belgium, Netherlands and UK, you don't need either a licence.

    But as soon as you rent it with a crew, or you own the boat, but have a PAID crew, or passengers are paying their seat, the crew captain need a professional licence. At least in France.

    In short : No money from/to whoever aboard = no licence required. Money involved: paid crew and/OR paying passengers = professional licence for captain. This is independent of the boat (recreational, under 24m).
     
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