Is there a book about boat building standards, classifications, rules and regulations?

Discussion in 'Education' started by JamesG, Aug 3, 2020 at 1:27 PM.

  1. JamesG
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    JamesG Junior Member

    Hi,

    I’d like to build a very unique vessel that would be used for commercial use, but I’m having a difficult time learning about all the different standards, classifications, rules, societies etc.

    I’m thinking it might be best to build it to commercial standards, but perhaps initially register it as a recreational vessel because as far as I can tell recreational vessels do not need to be inspected for anything other than basic things like lights, horns lifejackets etc. I’m assuming that’s the cheaper route to go so I can test my prototype and then later get it inspected as a commercial vessel. I’m not sure how many recreational vessels I can build and test without being a legitimate manufacturer and I think I read that manufacturers have to follow a different set of rules than a person who builds one recreational vessel for themselves.

    Anyway, is there a book that covers all this kind of information? I’ve been reading stuff online, but it’s just so darn confusing. How do people learn about classes, societies, rules, etc. in naval architect school?

    I’m located in Ventura, California if that helps. Thanks!
     
  2. bajansailor
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    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    How large is your unique vessel going to be?
    And what type - monohull or multihull, power or sail?
    Is this vessel your own design?
    Do you intend to set up a commercial yard to build the first boat, or will you be building it in your back yard?

    Re 'commercial use', will you be carrying passengers?
    Have you had a look through the USCG regulations - or are these the ones that you find confusing? I must admit that I find them very confusing!
    Ike on this Forum is the person to seek advice from re USCG rules - he is very knowledgeable about these.

    Re hull strength, Dave Gerr's book 'Elements of Boat Strength' is a useful start -
    https://www.amazon.com/Elements-Boat-Strength-Builders-Designers/dp/0070231591/ref=sr_1_1

    Re class rules, AdHoc on this Forum has previously referenced the rules by DNVGL (and I bookmarked them).

    Rules for classification of 'small' craft (under 24 m.) :
    https://rules.dnvgl.com/docs/pdf/DNVGL/ST/2016-07/DNVGL-ST-0342.pdf

    Rules for classification of high speed and light craft :
    https://rules.dnvgl.com/docs/pdf/DNVGL/RU-HSLC/2015-12/DNVGL-RU-HSLC-Pt5Ch6.pdf
     
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  3. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    Realistically, I know of no text that specifically covers all the rules and regulations needed to design, fabricate, operate, and insure a vessel in the US. This is because, for the most part, vessels are divided into several major categories, the laws are specific to the type of vessel, and the rules are specific to each operator and insurer.

    The most important point is that the law (46 CFR, 33 CFR, and any state law) is about public safety, and the rules (ABS, DNVGL, ABYC, IMO, and ISO) are about protecting the investors and insurers financial interests. While the law sometimes references the rules (e.g. SOLAS, ABYC A-16, or UL 1426), you must keep in mind that they are separate requirements for different reasons.

    If you want to build a vessel for your sole personal use, never to be sold, or hired, or offered for service and only operated in state waters....then only state law governs.
    If you want to insure that vessel, then the insurer may require you to meet some of the rules.
    If you want to finance that vessel, then the financier may require you to meet some of the rules.
    If you want to operate that vessel in federal waters, then you have to meet federal law.
    If you want to operate that vessel for hire or for services, then you need to meet specific federal laws (e.g. 46 CFR, Chapter 1, Sub-chapter M, T, U, etc.)
    If you want to build that vessel for sale, again you need to meet specific federal laws (e.g. 46 CFR, Chapter 1, Sub-chapter Q, etc.)

    And that's just the US. International is another ball of brown sticky stuff.

    <edited for typos>
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2020 at 5:52 PM
  4. JamesG
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    JamesG Junior Member


     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2020 at 7:56 PM
  5. JamesG
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    JamesG Junior Member

    Wow, this is going to be really fun... Haha I just get the sense that it’s a MOUNTAIN of information to overcome before knowing how to proceed. Ultimately I would like to use this vessel internationally with paying passengers, so I would like to design and build it with that in mind. I was hoping a book could paint a landscape of all the different organizations out there, how they differ in terms of how much each one costs, the benefits and basically help me choose which path to take. My initial assumption after talking to the USCG in the past is that I should just build it as a personal recreational vessel (probably multiple vessels since it’s a modular platform), not use it for commercial use other than for promoting my clothing line and once I have more money go the more official route and build it for commercial use, but recently I figured I should do some final research before investing what little money I have saved up for this project with the hopes that I can build it for commercial use the first time around. I read somewhere that ABS adds about $300,000 to the cost of a yacht, but I’m thinking that perhaps the US Coast Guard is low cost or free?

    The information you just provided is helpful to paint a landscape, but how did you learn all of this? Is there not a book that just covers the law/business side of ship/boat building? I feel I have A LOT to learn so I’m trying to figure out the most efficient way to get all this data uploaded into my brain.
     
  6. Ike
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    Ike Senior Member

    Well, there are lots of books on boat building, but the reason I created my website is because very few of them deal with USCG regulations for recreational boats. Take a look at New Boatbuilders Home Page | Everything Boat Building https://newboatbuilders.com. Truthfully the site is for people wanting to build and sell boats, but it does cover fuel systems, electrical systems, capacities and much more. It does not get in to hull scantlings (thickness and types of materials) but you can find that in books.

    As you surmised, building a recreational boat and building a commercial passenger carrying vessel are two different animals. Both are regulated by the Coast Guard, but the rules are much different. However if you stick with six or less passengers for hire the rules are the same as recreational boats. Commercial boats require that the plans be submitted to the Coast Guard for approval, and the boat has to be inspected at various stages of the construction, and finally certified by the Coast Guard to carry passengers. It's long complex process. And you will probably have to hire a Naval Architect to help design the boat.

    The best way to learn how to build a boat is build one from plans or a kit. Then every thing is laid out for you and you learn as you go. Start small because 1) it's easier, 2) it's less expensive and 3) the same techniques and principles apply to bigger boats that are more complex.
     
  7. Ike
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    Ike Senior Member

    That is exactly wrong. It is very difficult for a boat to go from being a recreational boat to being an inspected vessel. It almost always results in numerous costly changes, and may not be possible at all, depending on the design of the boat. If you want to build a commercial vessel, start from the beginning. Get a good design from a Naval Architect who knows the rules. Submit plans to the Coast Guard. If you want to know more about it contact the Marine Safety Center. Marine Safety Center (MSC) https://www.dco.uscg.mil/Our-Organization/Assistant-Commandant-for-Prevention-Policy-CG-5P/Commercial-Regulations-standards-CG-5PS/Marine-Safety-Center-MSC/

    If you want to build recreational boats look at the Coast Guards Boatbuilders Handbook Boatbuilder's Handbook https://www.uscgboating.org/regulations/boatbuilders-handbook.php
     
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  8. Ike
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    Ike Senior Member

    If you build a boat for your own use you don't need to register as a manufacturer, even if somewhere down the road you sell it. However you will have to get a Hull Identification Number for it from the state. As far as I know, no insurance company will touch it unless it meets standards for a recreational boat. For a pontoon boat that's pretty simple. A Hull ID number. It may have to meet fuel and electrical if it has a permanently installed engine (not an outboard) or fuel system. However, again with the insurance. There are industry standards published by ABYC for pontoon boats. Most insurers will want it to meet those. You can actually see them online on a Canadian Coast Guard site. https://tc.canada.ca/en/marine-tran...uction-standards-small-vessels-2010-tp-1332-e The Canadian standards for pontoon boats are taken directly from ABYC standards.

    This is because of a Supreme Court ruling about what is a vessel and what isn't, which is about as clear as mud, and the CG hasn't really figured it out yet. But make it a powered vessel and follow the regs. The ruling was about a house on a barge that had no engine and could only be moved by being towed or pushed. And it was normally hooked up to shore utilities. So it was more a residence than a vessel. The law defines vessel as a means of transportation on the water, and as I see it yours is intended to be a means of transportation on the water, so it's a vessel. (if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck....)

    The Marine Safety side of the Coast Guard has separate rules for pontoon boats and multihulls. But basically they are all about how many passengers you can carry. Other construction standards are basically the same. Fuel systems, electrical, ventilation, etc all the same as for any inspected vessel. One problem here with your multiple modules. We went through that exercise in the 80's. If each module can be operated separately then each module is a boat and has to have an HIN and meet the applicable rules. Doesn't matter if it gets put together to make a bigger boat.
     
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  9. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    I learned it over a 40 year <1978-2018> career in Naval Architecture starting a Webb and UofM and ending as the head of a Navy RDT&E Naval Architecture and Shipboard Handling branch. Dealing with all the other NA's that revolve through the door as well as new builds (in naval and commercial yards), conversions, leased, contractor, and COTS equipment gave a pretty broad perspective on the marine field.

    I have always said that a Naval Architects reasoned opinion of being correct is their most important asset. If you think $300K is expensive for ABS certification, try standing up in front of an Admiral Review Board and convince them that they won't be wasting a $1+ Billion in a design space where there are no rules to keep you safe, because after a few mistakes like that you are talking about real money.
    <edit: engineer can't add, no cookie>
     
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  10. JamesG
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    JamesG Junior Member

    Hi Ike,

    Thanks for all the information. I’ve been reading through a lot of your links and thinking about what you’ve said.

    That’s great that you have experience with modular vessels!

    It seems like building these modules as recreational vessels is the best way to start since it’s less expensive and a less complicated process. Do you know where I can find information about captain and crew requirements? If I have, for example, four modules which are each registered as recreational vessels connected together and anchored in the ocean does that mean I need to have one captain per module while there are paying guests on each module? Hopefully the captain requirements are less when a vessel is at anchor or else I’ll need four captains in that example.

    I’m assuming if no guests are paying then I don’t need to have any captains while at anchor.
     
  11. JamesG
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    JamesG Junior Member

    It seems like the best path forward would be to build these modules as recreational vessels since it is supposedly a less complicated process then building them as commercial passenger vessels. At some point down the road I’ll probably try to design and build a commercial version with the help of a naval architect.

    You mentioned that to insure a vessel it needs to follow minimum standards even if it’s a recreational vessel because the insurance companies might require that and you also mentioned that if the recreational vessel travels through international waters it needs to follow international law and that’s another bowl of brown sticky stuff.

    I would like to insure these recreational vessels and go through international waters, so where do I look for that information? I thought if a recreational vessel is documented with US Coast Guard it can travel internationally, so I’m a little surprised to hear that I’ll need to follow additional international regulations about how it is built. Ahh the adventure begins!
     
  12. Ike
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    Ike Senior Member

    Back in the late 80's and early 90's some manufacturers were building boats that were designed to mate with a Personal Water Craft. They didn't have their own means of propulsion. Anyway, this is not like what you are proposing.

    How are they going to get to where they mate together? They either have to be propelled and manned (unless they are essentially drones) or mated at the point of origin . If they are mated together before getting underway to their destination then they are just one vessel. Licensing requirements depend on how many passengers you are carrying and how far offshore. Can't be very far if you are considering anchoring. Anchoring does not have any bearing on the requirements for the Captains license. The lowest is 6 or less passengers. That's called an ( the Captains license) Operator of Uninspected Passenger Vessel. If each module has six then 2 modules raises that to 12, which would require a higher level of license for the Captain, a Limited Master Certificate, and it would have to be an inspected vessel. Next up is a Master Certificate for 100 gross tons or less, and so on.

    You misunderstood. There is no international law requirement. The US has its own regulations for recreational vessels. Canada has it's own, The EU has its own. But those are for vessels made and sold there. If you export a recreational boat to the EU it has to meet EU rules. But if you want to just take your boat to say Canada or Europe, you're ok if t meets US rules. But not for carrying passengers for hire. The US has The Jones Act which requires vessels carrying passengers for hire between US ports, be made in the US. Their are some exceptions. And every maritime nation has it's own rules about boats carrying passengers for hire. Nations close to us such as Canada and the Bahamas allow passenger vessels that depart from the US, entry, but then the assumption is they will be returning to the US. But I doubt what you are planning will be involved in that. Documenting a vessel with the Coast Guard simplifies entry because it is seen as proof of vessel ownership. and recognized as a US vessel. Boats registered with a state can travel too, but your entry may be delayed in some countries because it is registered with a state, and is not considered a US vessel. However some nearby countries, Canada, Mexico, Bahamas, and a few others have no problem with state registration. The catch is, to document a vessel with the Coast Guard it must meet a tonnage rule, 5 net tons. That is not a measure of its displacement. It is measure of internal volume for carriage of cargo, and few boat under 30 feet can meet that requirement.

    Plus there are rules about what you can do on a passenger vessel offshore. If it's gambling there are laws governing that too. If it's just going to Catalina then it's just a passenger vessel.
     
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  13. jehardiman
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    jehardiman Senior Member

    Maybe I should have stated that more clearly. The present EU requirements are in the Recreational Craft Directive, Directive 2013/53/EU. And make sure to understand who is the "Notified Body" that carries out the conformity assessment procedures.
     
  14. JamesG
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    JamesG Junior Member

    I hope this isn’t too wordy! :)

    I plan on using boat ramps to put each module in the water and ideally I would put one module in the water at a time rather than joining them together before putting them in the water. If I were to join the modules together on the boat ramp it would require me to either unload a module, go back and pick up another module or have multiple tow vehicles and trailers to do it in one trip. So ideally I just have one module going in the water at a time to keep the operation simple. I don’t want to be doing much assembling on the boat ramps because I’m afraid the authorities might have a problem with that (if they don’t already have a problem with a strange looking module going in the water) so because I don’t want to be doing any assembling at the boat ramp that means the module needs to already be assembled on the trailer so it can be put in the water quickly. The maximum size of a trailer without some oversize permit is roughly the size of a tractor-trailer trailer which is about 8’ wide x 13 1/2‘ tall and up to 52 feet long. I’ll be pulling the trailer with my diesel van, so it probably can’t be 53 feet long, so maybe more like 20 to 30 feet max. Anyway, what I’m getting at is there are two major options for the dimensions of the modules.

    Option A is a module that is very tall and narrow (8 feet wide by about 11 feet tall by about 30 feet long), but unstable in the water. The advantage of this module is that once connected to the rest of the modules the entire platform is of course more stable because it’s wider, but it’s also able to handle bigger waves because it’s higher out of the water. Sidenote: to transport a single module will probably require it to be partially submerged with ballast water and/or temporary buoyancy added to the sides.

    Option B is a module that is approximately 11 feet wide by 8 feet tall by 30 feet long. This version is stable as a standalone module and could even be used as a practical vessel, but it has the downside of the final platform being lower in the water and more susceptible to waves. Side note: This module has to be rotated from its position on the trailer to its position in the water probably with a winch system on the trailer.

    My preference is choosing option A because it’s better in the long run.

    Sorry for all the extra details, but I feel they are important to think about when having the conversation at hand.

    How are they going to get to where they mate together? I’m thinking that each module once loaded into the water will be pulled with a JetSki or boat to an area in the ocean where the modules will be connected. I guess it could be self-propelled as you are suggesting, but that adds extra expense, so I figured pulling it would be more cost-effective. Since the module doesn’t have an engine, it’s unstable and not meant for passengers or things to be transported, does that mean it doesn’t need to be registered as a vessel? On the other hand, if I did want to register it as a recreational vessel would it need to pass a stability test?

    If it’s true that I have the option whether to register it as a vessel or not then according to what you’re saying that means that it could either be multiple recreational vessels connected together or one large inspected passenger vessel. Is that correct?

    Where will it be operated?
    It will be operated close to the shore pretty much wherever it goes (hopefully starting in Santa Barbara, California) that way it can anchor and interact with people who might like to swim out to it. The purpose of this platform is to have events like concerts, workshops, a place for people to meet for talking about ideas, etc. Those would be situations where people might pay money to be there. The platform will also promote a clothing line, but people would not pay money to be on the platform in that situation because it’s only used for shooting photos and videos and if anything I’m paying THEM to be there. I would like it to travel internationally, so there will be times when it has to go out into the open ocean, but maybe that’s not realistic with this initial version. Hopefully it will be possible though.

    Anchoring –
    I’m still curious about this. If a captain has paying passengers is he never allowed to leave the boat with no captain on board? Maybe a captain just needs to be there at the beginning and end of the passengers’ stay? It kind of makes me think about flotillas, where multiple boats tie up together for a party and how people move back-and-forth from boat to boat etc.

    It seems like I will have two problems according to what you’re saying:
    1. If I plan on having paying passengers in each country that I visit then I will not be allowed since my vessel will be US built and I’ll be in a foreign country. Is there a solution to this? One thing that came to mind would be to re-register it in the country that I’m visiting.

    2. The 5 tons of displacement required for US documentation could be very difficult unless I’m documenting the whole platform. Even in that situation I’m not sure how they measure displacement. The only cargo and passengers that I can carry would be on the deck and above, so not inside the hulls. It would be nice to know more about how that is calculated for various kinds of vessels. Perhaps calling this design a multi hull would not be advantageous. Perhaps it would be better to call it a floating oil rig or something. I’m curious to know more about that.

    I was not thinking much about gambling other than making that a possibility at fundraising events. It’s mostly used for various events like concerts, workshops, people collaborating on ideas, spending the night, traveling. I’m guessing that all commercial activity will require federal, state, county, and city approval? Do you happen to know if it’s OK for people to swim out to a commercial vessel to begin their passenger for higher situation? I thought I heard once that when passengers are paying money they have to start off from a commercial dock space.

    Wooo lots of details!:eek: Thanks for the help. I really appreciate it. I know my response is a little wordy and for that I apologize. Hopefully it’s not too much.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2020 at 1:40 PM

  15. JamesG
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    JamesG Junior Member

    Wow, I started researching what “notified body” means in the document you are referring to and on Wikipedia and it’s super confusing. Luckily, it looks like I won’t need to deal with building this vessel according to EU standard since I’m not there or planning on selling it there.
     
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