what regs/redtape for bringing a foreign built boat to US waters for liveaboard?

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by Squidly-Diddly, Apr 13, 2020.

  1. Squidly-Diddly
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    Squidly-Diddly Senior Member

    Say I get a 120x40' multistory steel motor-sailor built in Orient somewhere, and have a slip in currently fully legal marina or houseboat colony in USA.

    What sort of regs, inspections, etc will I run into? Besides basics like correct running lights, not leaking sewage or oil and a life raft. Is there any time limit on how long a foreign built big boat can cruise and dock in US waters without need to formally meet lots of requirements?
     
  2. fallguy
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    fallguy Senior Member

  3. Squidly-Diddly
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    Squidly-Diddly Senior Member

    thx, but I'm mostly wondering about Boat Design, safety regs, etc, rather than what Customs will say about my collection of exotic and dangerous pets.

    Suppose I have boat built in China that is GTG as far as (loose) local regs go. I'm I gonna be blindsided with big slew of USCG and USA rules that would require blowing the boat up for complete rebuild?

    I got a feeling that overseas boat yards will have "domestic" and "Meets USA and EU regs" options at two different price points.

    At what point does a foreign built boat of semi-known origin and quality have to "face the music" if brought to USA? Only interested in actual required Govt stuff. I know any Harbor Master, broker or buyer is gonna have their own issues.
     
  4. bajansailor
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    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    What is your intended usage of the boat - will you be living on it?
    120' in length is way beyond even the most optimistic 24 metre loadline length - and for vessels above 24 m. loadline length I think you need to have professional qualifications to operate the vessel.
    I am guessing that a 100% houseboat with no sails or engines might not come under this ruling.
     
  5. Squidly-Diddly
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    Squidly-Diddly Senior Member

    No particular boat, just trying to get lay of the land, so to speak. Not concerned with Professional Qualification of operator. Just wondering if there are gonna be weird specific USA rules about how the engines are mounted and scantings, or where the fuel tanks are located, or how big the passageways must be.

    Stuff like this UBC, but for boats. And who and how would be enforced on a foreign built boat that just kinda shows up in US waters under private ownership, no sales or work for hire involved.

    I'm a land-lubber carpenter, where its a given that (in theory) you are supposed to have every screw in every piece of drywall "inspected", even at your own house, so it kinda blows my mind that rather large boats of unknown origin and quality could show up and cruise around sans any real oversight by Govt.

    https://www.dos.ny.gov/DCEA/pdf/pdf/2020 BCNYS November 2019.pdf
    FIRE AND SMOKE PROTECTION FEATURES2020 BUILDING CODEOF NEW YORK STATE125The required fire-resistance rating of exterior walls with afire separation distance of less than or equal to 10 feet (3048mm) shall be rated for exposure to fire from both sides.705.6 Structural stability.Exterior walls shall extend tothe height required by Section 705.11. Interior structuralelements that brace the exterior wall but that are not locatedwithin the plane of the exterior wall shall have the minimumfire-resistance rating required in Table 601 for that struc-tural element. Structural elements that brace the exteriorwall but are located outside of the exterior wall or within theplane of the exterior wall shall have the minimum fire-resis-tance rating required in Tables 601 and 602 for the exteriorwall.705.7 Unexposed surface temperature. Where protectedopenings are not limited by Section 705.8, the limitation onthe rise of temperature on the unexposed surface of exteriorwalls as required by ASTM E119 or UL 263 shall not apply.Where protected openings are limited by Section 705.8, thelimitation on the rise of temperature on the unexposed surfaceof exterior walls as required by ASTM E119 or UL 263 shallnot apply provided that a correction is made for radiationfrom the unexposed exterior wall surface in accordance withthe following formula:Ae = A + (Af × Feo)(Equation 7-1)where:Ae= Equivalent area of protected openings.A= Actual area of protected openings.Af= Area of exterior wall surface in the story underconsideration exclusive of openings, on which thetemperature limitations of ASTM E119 or UL 263 forwalls are exceeded.Feo= An “equivalent opening factor” derived from Figure705.7 based on the average temperature of theunexposed wall surface and the fire-resistance ratingof the wall.705.8 Openings. Openings in exterior walls shall complywith Sections 705.8.1 through 705.8.6.705.8.1 Allowable area of openings. The maximum areaof unprotected and protected openings permitted in anexterior wall in any story of a building shall not exceed the
     
  6. bajansailor
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    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    Have you had a look through the USCG website to see what they have to say about a case like this?
    Although I appreciate that just trying to trawl through a site of regulations is pretty complex.
    Ike who posts on this Forum is very knowledgeable about these rules - if he doesn't chip in it might be worth sending him a PM?
    As the vessel will be purely for private use it might be just a case of you paying local sales tax and perhaps some import duty?
    Even this topic is fairly volatile though, with the conflicting news about extra tariffs on imports from China into the USA.
    Might be best to wait a while and see how the whole Corona scenario pans out before making any commitments?
     
  7. gonzo
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    gonzo Senior Member

  8. bajansailor
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    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    Re Gonzo's link, I realise that I was a bit too optimistic in thinking that you might be able to get away with just paying some duties!
    It does look like you will have a lot of proverbial hoops to jump through to keep the CG happy.
     
  9. DCockey
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    DCockey Senior Member

  10. Squidly-Diddly
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    Squidly-Diddly Senior Member

    Yeah, besides the obvious lights, fire and PDFs, it says something about "unsafe conditions" which can mean anything.

    Still looking for boat building equivalent of UBC to avoid getting called for "unsafe conditions". Where are the regs for type, size, placement and amount of fire-fighting equip? Max distance between wall mounted fire extinguishers not too problematic, but would be nice to know if a sprinkler system is required before the finish wood goes in. What about specs for various types of plumbing, especially grey and blackwater systems? Gotta be a whole chapter on engine rooms for various types of engines, including structural, venting and drainage. Electrical code for boats gotta be diff from buildings (which is diff for various types of buildings).
     
  11. Ike
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    Ike Senior Member

    Well, here I am. Still self isolating. Is this a test to see if I'm still awake? LOL

    Anyway. If you bring a boat into the US, you are the importer and are responsible for meeting any US regulations that apply to that boat. Of course 120 feet is hardly a boat, more like a ship. That said, it's still a recreational boat and has to meet any regs that apply to that type of boat. There are lots of made in USA houseboats in use that are in that size range. Assuming a vessel of that size has diesel engines then the fuel and electrical regulations don't apply. However, you may want to abide by ABYC standards which do apply to diesels because that is what surveyors and insurance companies look to. If it has gas engines then they do apply. So fuel, electrical, engine room ventilation, navigation lights and a valid Hull Identification Number. I said valid because an HIN assigned by a foreign builder is not valid in the US. You would have to get one from the state where the boat will be kept. I assume a vessel that large would be documented with the Coast Guard, so you wouldn't have to register it with the state or get a title, but you would have to pay state taxes (especially in Florida or California) and get an HIN. In addition there are labeling requirements. A certification label, a ventilation blower warning label, an oil pollution placard, an EPA compliance label. Can't forget the EPA. The boats exhaust and fuel systems would have to comply with EPA emissions regulations.

    And no, you do not have to be licensed or have a licensed skipper, unless you plan to take passengers for hire. Then it's a whole new ballgame. It would fall under the Jones Act which prohibits foreign built vessels from being used in "coast wise trade". Generally speaking that means no passengers for hire, but there are exceptions. That is not my area of expertise and you would have to talk to the Marine Safety Center about that.

    Left out Marine Sanitation Devices. A holding tank, or a type I or II device.

    And, if the boat is built elsewhere and built to ISO standards, then it would more than likely meet and or US standards for recreational boats, except for the HIN. If you build to MCA, LLyods, Det Norkse Veritas, etc (all those European standards) it would probably meet US standards for passenger vessels under 100 gross tons.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2020
  12. bajansailor
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    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    Thanks for your excellent input Ike!
    A question (I shall try not to drift the thread) - I got the impression that any pleasure boat over 24 metres loadline length needed to be operated by crew with appropriate qualifications. Is this not necessarily the case?
    If not, then how much bigger does it have to become before it is regarded as a 'ship'?
    The Hatteras 105 in the link below has a waterline length of 27.55 m - can she be operated by an owner without any 'qualifications'?
    105 Raised Pilot House Motor Yacht | Hatteras Yachts https://www.hatterasyachts.com/models/motor-yachts/105-raised-pilothouse
     
  13. Ike
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    Ike Senior Member

    In the USA there is no licensing requirement to operate a recreational vessel unless it is being used to carry 6 or less passengers for hire (12 in the US Virgin Islands). Then the operator must have an OUPV (six pack) lic. There is no size distinction between a small recreational vessel and a large one. The distinction is in the use. If the vessel is large enough you have to hire a crew and pay them then you have to be licensed. However, if your crew is just friends or family, not paid, then there is no requirement as long as there is no reimbursement or payment from the crew to the operator. Most large vessels we think of as being "owned" by millionaires and billionaires, are not actually "owned by an individual. They are owned by the corporation for the exclusive use of the CEO or owner of the corporation and when not being used are chartered out or used for business purposes, in essence carrying passengers, and have paid crews and licensed Captains. There are a few exceptions but not many. Most of these vessel would be thought of as ships because of their size. There are hundreds of houseboats well over 100 feet in size operated on large lakes in the US solely by the owner as a recreational boat with no licensing requirement. You may have to get state boater card but that just requires a basic knowledge of boating laws and, navigation rules, and safety requirements. It is not a license.

    The answer to your question about the Hatteras is yes. If you feel experiencd enough to operate a vessel that size, no one will stop you (except maybe your wife).
     
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  14. bajansailor
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    bajansailor Marine Surveyor

    Thanks for this Ike - I got the impression that it is a ruling in Europe as a lot of large (relatively!) yachts there appear to be built to be just under 24 metres loadline length, and I was thinking that maybe it was similar in the USA.
     

  15. Ike
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    Ike Senior Member

    Well I didn't want to get into other nations requirements. I am not very knowledgeable on those outside the US. I do know that if you showed up in some countries in a ship size vessel they would ask for your license, and if you didn't have one then there would a lot of trouble. Then the State Department would get involved and so on and so on.... Not worth the hassle and it would probably end up costing a lot of money to get your boat back and permission to leave.
     
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