It’s the new Recre­ational Craft Di­rec­tive which might sound stul­ti­fy­ingly bor­ing, but it’s made some ma­jor changes to boat buy­ing and us­ing, so here’s what you need to know

Canal Boat - - This Month -

How to fathom out the new Recre­ational Craft Di­rec­tive 2 and the chang­ing as­pects of leg­is­la­tion

Rather like the high-speed rail link from Lon­don link­ing the Mid­lands to the North, which has sim­ply be­come known as HS2, the lat­est ver­sion of the EU’s Recre­ational Craft Di­rec­tive has sim­ply be­come RCD2 on the towpath.

Of­fi­cially known as Di­rec­tive 2013/53/EU, it’s es­sen­tially what’s known as a ‘New Ap­proach Di­rec­tive’ and changes the re­quire­ments for all recre­ational craft placed on the mar­ket or put into use within the UK and the EU.

Writ­ten with­out any tech­ni­cal stan­dards, it sim­ply sets high level re­quire­ments, known as ‘Es­sen­tial’ re­quire­ments, so that boat-builders are free to choose how they will meet the re­quire­ments, al­low­ing them to in­no­vate and their de­signs not be con­fined. When a boat­builder is con­fi­dent that they have met all the es­sen­tial re­quire­ments within the RCD they can put a CE mark on the boat as a dec­la­ra­tion that they have met the le­gal re­quire­ments.

There’s a lot of talk about In­ter­na­tional Stan­dards Or­gan­i­sa­tion (ISO) stan­dards within the sec­tor, but these stan­dards are not manda­tory, they don’t have to be used by a boat-builder to meet the le­gal re­quire­ments. What they do have is what’s known as a pre­sump­tion of con­form­ity. If us­ing an ISO stan­dard, a builder doesn’t have to jus­tify how they built the boat, it’s pre­sumed to be safe. If they use an­other method, they must ex­plain why they think it is safe and trad­ing stan­dards may dis­agree. This type of reg­u­la­tion also en­ables quicker changes for up­grad­ing safety or tech­nol­ogy. One ex­am­ple is the stan­dard for Sta­bil­ity and Buoy­ancy. The ISO stan­dard for the sta­bil­ity and buoy­ancy of a boat is ISO 12217. The first ver­sion of this stan­dard was re­leased in 2002 and amended in 2009. An up­dated ver­sion was then re­leased in 2013 and again in 2015. Four times this stan­dard has been

changed and im­proved, of­fer­ing bet­ter lev­els of safety and all within the time­frame of the reg­u­la­tion.

On the other side is ISO 9093-2: Sea­cocks and through-hull fit­tings – Part 1: Metal­lic. This stan­dard has been around since 1994 and has only just started be­ing re­vised to catch up with new tech­nol­ogy.

There are cur­rently 82 dif­fer­ent ISO stan­dards that fall within the small craft (less than 24 metres) sec­tor, although not all will ap­ply to ev­ery craft.

So stan­dards evolve quickly and the law slowly, but how can you tell how your boat has been de­signed and built?

By law there must be a Dec­la­ra­tion of Con­form­ity with ev­ery boat. Through it the builder must demon­strate how they have met the ‘Es­sen­tial Re­quire­ments’ within the law.

It might be by us­ing ISO stan­dards or an­other way or al­ter­na­tive stan­dards, but they must tell you. The of­fi­cial Con­form­ity doc­u­ment will also con­tain a sig­na­ture from the builder that they have met the le­gal re­quire­ments. SO, WHAT’S CHANGED UN­DER THE NEW LAW? There have been a num­ber of small changes, hard to spot by the un­trained eye, but that will sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove both the safety of a boat as well as its im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment. MEANS OF RE-BOARD­ING AF­TER SOME­ONE FALLS OVER­BOARD: The orig­i­nal law re­quired a means of re-board­ing to be pro­vided on all ves­sels. The new law goes a step fur­ther and now means that a per­son who falls over­board must be able to re-board from the wa­ter un­aided. Cue a lot of lad­ders now be­ing welded on the back. ELEC­TRI­CAL SYS­TEMS – AD­DRESS­ING ELEC­TRIC PROPULSION As more and more boaters turn to elec­tri­cal and hy­brid propulsion, the law has changed to ad­dress a gap in reg­u­la­tion. The changes bring about an as­sur­ance of the safe in­stal­la­tion of this type of sys­tem. PRO­TECT­ING WA­TER­WAYS FROM WASTE As al­ready men­tioned, many changes have come about with safety in mind, but there are also some aimed at mak­ing boats friend­lier to the en­vi­ron­ment. This change means that any toi­let fit­ted in a recre­ational craft has to be con­nected solely to a hold­ing tank or wa­ter treat­ment sys­tem and is no longer able to be plumbed straight out. CLEANER EN­GINES En­gines have had to com­ply with emis­sion lim­its since 2004 but now the EU en­gine emis­sion lim­its have been brought in line with U.S. emis­sion lim­its (set in 2010). This means en­gines can now be sold in both mar­kets and mean you get a cheaper, cleaner en­gine.

How­ever, the big­gest changes are:


The new di­rec­tive now reg­u­lates boat own­ers and the mod­i­fi­ca­tion and sale of boats al­ready in use.

Within the text of the new di­rec­tive there have been some changes for the rules ap­pli­ca­ble to craft that un­dergo what’s known as a Ma­jor Craft Con­ver­sion. Ma­jor Craft Con­ver­sions are de­fined as the con­ver­sion of a wa­ter­craft which changes the means of propulsion of the wa­ter­craft, in­volves a ma­jor en­gine mod­i­fi­ca­tion or al­ters the wa­ter­craft to such an ex­tent that it may not meet the ap­pli­ca­ble es­sen­tial safety and en­vi­ron­men­tal re­quire­ments laid down in the Di­rec­tive.

This could be the length­en­ing of a boat, the in­stal­la­tion of an LPG sys­tem or a new elec­tri­cal sys­tem. It can even be putting a new en­gine in.

What the di­rec­tive now re­quires is that if this mod­i­fi­ca­tion takes place the boat must be re-as­sessed. Ex­plained in the di­rec­tive text, Ar­ti­cle 19, part 3: Any per­son plac­ing on the mar­ket or putting into ser­vice a propulsion en­gine or a wa­ter­craft af­ter a ma­jor mod­i­fi­ca­tion or con­ver­sion thereof, or any per­son chang­ing the in­tended pur­pose of a wa­ter­craft not cov­ered by this Di­rec­tive in a way that it falls un­der its scope, shall ap­ply the pro­ce­dure re­ferred to in Ar­ti­cle 23 be­fore plac­ing the prod­uct on the mar­ket or putting it into ser­vice.

The Ar­ti­cle 23 pro­ce­dure is known as a Post-con­struc­tion as­sess­ment. What this now means is that any CE marked vessel that un­der­goes a Ma­jor Craft Con­ver­sion, must un­dergo a post con­struc­tion as­sess­ment be­fore be­ing placed back on the mar­ket or put into ser­vice (whichever is the ear­lier). The le­gal re­spon­si­bil­ity for this is placed on the per­son who is plac­ing the vessel back on the mar­ket or putting it back into ser­vice af­ter the works have been car­ried out.

The ba­sis of this change is to en­sure that a boat with a CE mark is as safe when it’s sold a sec­ond time as it was when first sold. Be­fore, a CE marked boat could be com­pletely changed in­side and out and the CE mark only re­ferred to the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion be­fore the mod­i­fi­ca­tions, when first sold. The CE mark no longer had any value in re­gard to the boats safety. Now if it’s mod­i­fied, it’s re­cer­ti­fied and the CE mark stays valid. SAILAWAYS AND AN­NEX III DEC­LA­RA­TIONS There has also been a change to how trad­ing stan­dards are treat­ing sailaways due to the new di­rec­tive. While they may have in the past been con­sid­ered partly com­pleted boats, the new di­rec­tive has changed some word­ing which has in turn changed the po­si­tion of trad­ing stan­dards.

The word­ing in clauses 1 and 2 of Ar­ti­cle 6 of Di­rec­tive 2013/53/EU means the po­si­tion regarding partly-com­pleted craft can now be con­sid­ered as: ‘Where a wa­ter­craft is partly com­pleted if it is not ca­pa­ble of be­ing used for sport and leisure pur­poses (put into ser­vice). The man­u­fac­turer in­tends there to be fur­ther con­struc­tion work to make it ca­pa­ble of be­ing used. The wa­ter­craft should be ac­com­pa­nied by a dec­la­ra­tion by the man­u­fac­turer or im­porter with the in­for­ma­tion re­quired in An­nex III’.

So, a partly com­pleted craft can be put on the mar­ket but can­not be put into ser­vice. Clause 2 is clear that such wa­ter­craft may be placed on the mar­ket but only com­plete wa­ter­craft (Clause 1) can be placed on the mar­ket and/or put into ser­vice. It would be an of­fence to put into ser­vice (use) a part com­pleted wa­ter­craft.

If a wa­ter­craft is in­tended to be used, i.e. if it can be put into ser­vice, it is as ‘com­plete’ as the man­u­fac­turer in­tends it to be. At that stage, the craft must meet all the ap­pli­ca­ble es­sen­tial health and safety re­quire­ments of the Di­rec­tive and have a Dec­la­ra­tion of Con­form­ity with the in­for­ma­tion re­quired in An­nex IV, tech­ni­cal doc­u­men­ta­tion with the doc­u­ments listed in An­nex IX and CE mark­ing. This ap­plies to all eco­nomic op­er­a­tors and pri­vate peo­ple, sub­ject to some ex­emp­tions.

This has ef­fec­tively put an end to the sail­away sold with an An­nex III(a). If it can be sailed away it is be­ing used and should be CE marked. Then when it is com­pleted it will most prob­a­bly need to have a post con­struc­tion as­sess­ment and need to be re-CE marked, to show that the end vessel is safe for use and sale.

It should be noted that DIY ves­sels have also been bet­ter de­fined to close an­other pre­vi­ous loop­hole.

So, there has been a lot of changes in the new RCD, not all of which can be seen.

Thanks to Ross Wombwell Bri­tish Marine Tech­ni­cal Man­ager and Chair­man of the Bri­tish Stan­dards In­sti­tute Small Craft Com­mit­tee for his help in putting to­gether this ex­plana­tory ar­ti­cle.


Sail­away rules are chang­ing

Boat-builders will have a lot of free­dom

Safety for elec­tric/hy­brid propulsion

Own­ers are af­fected by changes to mod­i­fi­ca­tion

Emis­sions con­trols are tighter

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