By Carl Krause,
SADSAA National Safety Officer
FROM AS far back as I can remember, any person who took a craft to sea in the capacity as “skipper” was required to have a “Skipper’s Ticket” or licence to do so.
In the mid 1950s the few deep sea angling clubs that were in existence either had their own clubs’ skippers’ tickets or, in the Durban Area, the Port Captain instituted specific requirements that had to be incorporated into the club’s rules.
Thereafter, following the formation of the South African Ski-Boat Association, efforts were made to ensure that all crafts’ skippers were licenced throughout South Africa and that stringent requirements came into force regarding the issuing of competency certificates.
These could only be issued after skippers had undergone intense practical and theory training and had indeed proved themselves to be competent skippers.
When the current national authority — South African Marine Safety Authority (SAMSA) — was introduced under a national government decree and legislation, all the different “skippers’ tickets” were technically made redundant and their version of “grandfather clauses” with a specific time frame resulted in one uniform skipper’s ticket being used nationwide.
As happens with so many regulated documents, a great number of “licensed skippers” either never became aware of the new requirement or adopted the stance of “I have my skippers ticket and have been taking a boat to sea for 10, 20, 30 years, so why must I change now?”
It’s a reality that we live in an era of stringent controls in most aspects of life, and the requirement to have the right SAMSA Skipper’s Ticket to take a craft to sea is one of them.
In recent months I have had hundreds of queries about which certificate/skipper’s ticket is now valid.
For ease of reference, in this article we have shown examples of which “old” tickets are now obsolete, and have also provided photos of the only tickets that are now legal in terms of SAMSA legislation. Note the endorsements and wording.
With the new necessity to have a VHF radio aboard all sea going craft and a licensed operator/skipper aboard a craft going to sea, it is likely that the authorities will be doing a lot more checking of craft both for sea worthiness and also to see that skippers have legitimate skippers’ tickets and VHF operation certificates.
Please note that SAMSA are appointing law enforcement officers to do the necessary checking of COCs and radio licences as well as COFs and buoyancy certificates. Insurance companies and financial institutions are also asking to see the correct documentation before they will cover or finance a boat.
Many of the old licences have categories that have changed with the inception of the new system and a few skippers are being caught out with wording that does not enable them to practice their sport and recreation at certain water distances out to sea. Endorsements were never placed on old skippers’ licences, but today it is essential to have the correct endorsements, especially for insurance claims and in case of accidents under investigation.
If you are not sure about your licence you are welcome to e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org> and we will help you figure out whether your ticket is legal and, if not, how to upgrade. It is a paperwork trail and another expense, but if you think of the value of your craft and your boating safety, it’s worth getting legal now.
To avoid possible prosecution, you must also ensure that all the necessary paper work and licences are in the possession of the skipper of any craft going to sea.