In a bid to attract maritime tourism, the South African Maritime Safety Authority has streamlined the regulatory requirements for yachts visiting the country for extended periods of time.

Foreign yachts will henceforth be issued with a six-month Certificate of Fitness as outlined in a new marine notice updating previous regulations governing ‘Safety and certification requirements for foreign recreational vessels in South African waters’.

The official SAMSA notice, published last week, is aimed at making special provision for foreign yachts that may not comply with specific South African safety equipment requirements.

“It often happens that visiting yachts extend their stay and undertake recreational voyages in South African waters, which can bring them into conflict with local authorities, authorised agencies and other authorities having particular responsibilities under the local safety regime in relation to recreational vessels (e.g. if they are manned or equipped to a lower safety standard),” the SAMSA notice said.

“Foreign visiting yachts which extend their stay to enjoy recreational sailing in South African waters are subject to the National Small Vessel Safety Regulations, 2007, and require written permission in terms of regulation 3(f) of the Marine Traffic Regulations, 1985. For simplicity and consistency, SAMSA would prefer that the written permission be in the form of a Certificate of Fitness (COF) issued in respect of the vessel by SAMSA or an authorised agency.

“CoF is in any case required by the National Small Vessel Safety Regulations, 2007. However, South Africa wishes to encourage tourism of this nature, so to demand pedantic compliance with the specific detail of our local regulations would be counter-productive,” SAMSA said.

This would hopefully reduce contestation around unknown or previously non-regulation life jackets and fire extinguishers, the organisation said.

In future, authorised SAMSA surveyors and authorised safety officers could issue of CoF once satisfied that the foreign vessel meets an equivalent standard to the local benchmark.

However, foreign registered vessels based in South Africa on a more permanent basis would be required “to meet the full requirements of the National Small Vessel Safety Regulations,” the SAMSA notice said. “They must be marked with a traceable approved marking issued by SAMSA or a SAMSA approved Authorized Agency and be surveyed to the local standard as defined in the National Small Vessel Regulations of 2007, Marine Notices and the SAMSA small vessel safety officer training program,” the notice said.