Famous Greek singer Vangelis Germanos sang “I’ll take you on a cruise” quite a few years ago, a well-known song associated with summer holidays. Many people have this song in their minds, either consciously or not, when they choose to sail off to neighbouring countries. Being true islanders, many Cypriot boat-owners choose to travel with a group of friends or their family to nearby countries and islands, either for a brief espape or for leisure and fun. But choosing a trip outside Cyprus on a private boat bears several dangers and the owners should assume specific measures before and during the trip, as well as on their return to Cyprus. The director of the Department of Merchant Shipping (DMS) Mr. Sergios Sergiou has spoken about this particular matter.
According to the TAE director, following the legislation in force (Basic Requirements (Recreational Craft) Regulations of 2003, P.I. 307/2003), vessels allowed to sail outside the territorial waters, must have been built for this very purpose, namely sailing in open sea.
“What’s more, theymustbeclassifiedasClassB vessels bythebuilderon the builder’s plate and in theDeclaration of Conformity. UsingaClassCvessel(for coastal use) in open sea is dangerous, as there can be weather conditions (wind force and sea condition) that this type of vessel can not cope with. Vessels must be registered with the Register of Shipping. Those vessels registered with the small vessels register are intended to sail exclusively within the territorial waters of Cyprus”, as Mr. Sergiou pointed out.
The DMS director also stated that, according to the High Speed Small Vessels Law, a high speed vessel shall be no longer than fifteen metres, therefore the high speed vessel operator’s licence is issued for operators of vessels up to fifteen metres long. “Considering a vessel longer than 15 metres is large, it is necessary for the operator to have perfect navigation knowledge and skill in handling the vessel, as well as to possess a skipper licence in accordance with the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Law (Issue and Recognition of Certificates and Marine Training) 27(I) of 2008, if the recrationial craft is used for commercial purposes”.
Advice before sailing
DMS director also outlined the process to be followed before sailing off to a foreign country:
● It is absolutely necessary to contact local authorities in the destination country for any necessary control (by the Coast Guard or Customs Office) or in case you need help
● Before departure, sailors should check their vessel’s condition and make sure it is in every respect seaworthy
● It is equally important to be informed of the weather conditions, particularly in the destination area
● It is advisable to inform the Department of Merchant Shipping in order to have the vessel inspected and get a seaworthiness certificate that can be asked for by local Port Authorities in the destination country
● Before sailing off, you should notify the nearest Coast Guard Station so that the Coast Guard and the Customs office conduct the required control
Generalrecommendations for vessel owners and operators:
● Check the vessel and the engine readiness, ventilate enclosed areas
● Check fuel pipes for any leak or hole or fume
● Check the vessel’s intact draught and heel
● Check the bilge; they should be clean from oil, petrol or rags
● The skipper should be in good shape
● They should never embark on their vessel more passengers than they are allowed to
Cypriots who sail off on with their boats, choose mostly Greek islands for their escapes. Quiet a few also visit nearer destinations, such as Lebanon or Syria.
An increased interest by foreignersIt is not only Cypriots who choose to go on long summer journeys abroad on their own boat. There are also many foreigners who either leave their boats permanently in Cyprus or visit our island on their boats, mainly in the summer. According to Mr. Sergiou, all foreigners planning to visit Cyprus should notify the Coast Guard in advance, so that the required control is conducted by the Customs Office and the Coast Guard (Registration Certificate, passengers’ check, the operator should also possess an operator’s licence issued by their country’s competent authority if it is a high speed vessel). The vessel should be adequately equipped and seaworthy. Mr Sergiou indicated that a traffic licence is required in case the vessel remains in Cyprus for longer than 6 months.
The Department of Merchandise Shipping estimates that every year around 1,500 foreigners visit Cyprus on their boats.
By Nearchos Nearchou
Issue 11, June 2011