Government consulatation on watercraft as ships - deadline 1st Nov

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ThaumPont
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Government consulatation on watercraft as ships - deadline 1st Nov

Post by ThaumPont »

The BCU seem to be concerned over a proposal by DFT to include sea kayaks as "ships" for the purposes of maritime law:
https://www.britishcanoeing.org.uk/news ... l-paddlers
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultat ... watercraft

The RYA's legal affairs chair seems to support the proposal, and has a summary of how we came to this point.
https://www.bailii.org/uk/other/journal ... rant2.html

The Court of Appeal ruling that led to this situation is here, but the short version is that there was a JetSki crash and the driver couldn't be prosecuted (or couldn't be prosecuted under the law that the CPS chose).
https://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Cr ... /3184.html

The BCU's worry seems to be that if kayaks are classed as ships then we'll be subject to additional bureaucracy. Whilst that's a risk, we'll also be given additional protections (for example from being hit by a JetSki).

Kayaks seem to have been assumed to be ships 1894 to 2005, and in that 100 years there don't seem to have been any problems. Unless the old definition excluded paddlecraft by virtue of them being proplelled by oars. Maybe the BCU know of something coming down the line from Government.

All in all I'm a bit confused. The deadline for responses is 1st Nov, which isn't much time.

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Re: Government consulatation on watercraft as ships - deadline 1st Nov

Post by Mac50L »

You can put a boat on a ship. You can't put a ship on a boat - so they say.

The case involves serious injury to a person by negligence. So what's the problem? If he had run into the person on the road, body to body and caused those injuries, what would the result of the case have been?

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Re: Government consulatation on watercraft as ships - deadline 1st Nov

Post by Chris Bolton »

It starts off as a proposal to make dangerous behaviour by jets skis an offence - good idea. Then it expands into covering almost anything that floats and making safety and equipment rules, which is the problem.

The proposal, as it stands, categorises anything that floats and carries at least one person as 'watercraft' (unless it's unpowered and less than 2.5m). It then proposes (I'm summarising here) that dangerous use of watercraft would be an offence. That's fine, dangerous jetskiers can be prosecuted. And dangerous use of kayaks, if it happened. Also that it should be possible to voluntarily register watercraft as UK ships, also fine (voluntary and could be useful if taking a kayak abroad).

The problem is where they then propose that safety and equipment rules for ships should apply to watercraft, or that rules may be made for all watercraft. We don't want to paddle in 'lifejackets' that meet international shipping standards. The kind of safety equipment that a 30ft sailing boat should carry is different to a jetski is different to kayak is different to a paddleboard. There's a proposal that authorised officers can detain a vessel that they think is unsafe for the intended use - and authorised officers can include any commissioned military officer. So an army officer who knows nothing about kayaks could stop you going out if they think your kayak isn't suitable for the conditions.

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Re: Government consulatation on watercraft as ships - deadline 1st Nov

Post by Mac50L »

Chris Bolton wrote:
Wed Oct 27, 2021 10:59 pm
(unless it's unpowered and less than 2.5m).
The length is measurable but "unpowered"? If it moves it is powered, powered by a person or, in the case of a surf board, by wave action.

Locally they brought in "all vessels must have 90 mm markings on each side, except..." The stupidity of writing it that way when the rules only applied to two types of vessel showed how poor the thinking of some rule writers is. The only two types of vessel in this case were motor powered vessels and sailing vessels longer than 6 metres.

Basically, watch what is to be ruled on and how things are to be defined. Presume they don't know what they are doing until it can be proved otherwise.

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Re: Government consulatation on watercraft as ships - deadline 1st Nov

Post by Ceegee »

Tbf the BCU is right to be worried. The 300m offshore nonsense in France illustrates. Here in Spain I fell foul of the Policia by trying to launch from a swimming beach (awash with pedalos and SUPs mind you) and when I went to the marina the harbour master tried to charge me the same launching fee as for a 30' RIB.

Rather than use the slip, I threw my kayak off the pier, jumped in after it and did a cowboy scramble.

Doesn't change the Jetski bugbear IMO. If you rode donuts with an unlicensed and uninsured superbike around the sunbathers in the local park you could expect to be prosecuted too. The fact that they can't find a law to prosecute under says more about the judiciary than the offenders.

In all it does seem a bit daft lumping muscle powered craft in as ships, but then, where would Triremes or Longships fit in?
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Re: Government consulatation on watercraft as ships - deadline 1st Nov

Post by Ceegee »

Having a quiet day so reading some of the attachments, I'm even more confused. So a "ship" needs to be a hollow vessel with internal storage, i.e. a kayak is but a SOT isn't?

One definition would if it has no engine, and the operator can pick it up and carry it, it isn't a ship.

That would exclude these motorized menaces which have made the rental scene at my local bay this summer. I dread the fate of the poor snorkler or spear fisherman who tangles with a gang of pissed up NEDs on a stag renting these for a larf.

Image
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Re: Government consulatation on watercraft as ships - deadline 1st Nov

Post by mrcharly »

This part
There's a proposal that authorised officers can detain a vessel that they think is unsafe for the intended use - and authorised officers can include any commissioned military officer. So an army officer who knows nothing about kayaks could stop you going out if they think your kayak isn't suitable for the conditions.
Is the really worrying part. I have had the misfortune to encounter a real arse of a harbour master. This bill will give them the power to seize your vessel.

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Re: Government consulatation on watercraft as ships - deadline 1st Nov

Post by Chris Bolton »

So a "ship" needs to be a hollow vessel with internal storage
I didn't spot that, where is is stated? But my understanding was that kayaks will be 'watercraft', which will be a subset of 'ship', so I don't know if it makes much difference.

In summary, I'm broadly happy with the proposal to make all watercraft users liable for dangerous behaviour, the provisions for voluntary registration, and (if it was limited to powered craft) the ability to detain dangerous watercraft. The the proposals on safety rules and equipment are a bureaucratic nightmare and I'm completely opposed to them.

If anyone agrees with my views in the previous paragraph, please send an email to maritimesafety@dft.gov.uk, using your own words rather than mine, and saying you're responding, as an individual, to the consultation on 'strengthening enforcement of the dangerous use of recreational and personal watercraft' - and send it before 11:45pm on Monday.

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Re: Government consulatation on watercraft as ships - deadline 1st Nov

Post by ThaumPont »

Chris Bolton wrote:
Thu Oct 28, 2021 2:30 pm
So a "ship" needs to be a hollow vessel with internal storage
I didn't spot that, where is is stated?
It's in Justice Sheen's 1992 suggestion of things that make a ship a ship - something that isn't hollow enough to float with people in unless it is moving sufficiently fast that the hull is planing would not be a ship. Not part of the DFT's current proposal.

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Re: Government consulatation on watercraft as ships - deadline 1st Nov

Post by Chris Bolton »

Thank you, ThaumPont. I think the point in regard to DFT's consultation is not that they proposed to class sea kayaks as ships, but that they propose to class them, along with almost all other small craft, as 'watercraft', and then subject them to some of the same rules as ships. Legally, they are not proposing to define watercraft as ships, just that the term ship, in the Merchant Shipping Act, will in some cases be read as including watercraft. Perhaps it's a poor analogy, but the Countryside Act allowing people to ride bicycles along a bridleway doesn't redefine bicycles as horses.

In practical terms, the controversial points are whether their proposed definition of watercraft is appropriate and which parts of the MSA should apply to watercraft.

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Re: Government consulatation on watercraft as ships - deadline 1st Nov

Post by mrcharly »

Chris Bolton wrote:
Thu Oct 28, 2021 2:30 pm
So a "ship" needs to be a hollow vessel with internal storage
I didn't spot that, where is is stated? But my understanding was that kayaks will be 'watercraft', which will be a subset of 'ship', so I don't know if it makes much difference.

In summary, I'm broadly happy with the proposal to make all watercraft users liable for dangerous behaviour, the provisions for voluntary registration, and (if it was limited to powered craft) the ability to detain dangerous watercraft. The the proposals on safety rules and equipment are a bureaucratic nightmare and I'm completely opposed to them.

If anyone agrees with my views in the previous paragraph, please send an email to maritimesafety@dft.gov.uk, using your own words rather than mine, and saying you're responding, as an individual, to the consultation on 'strengthening enforcement of the dangerous use of recreational and personal watercraft' - and send it before 11:45pm on Monday.
I can't agree.

No kayak dangerous to anyone other than the occupants.

Behaviour is dangerous.

The wording in the proposal is very concerning, it implies that a kayak or canoe can be dangerous (and subject to confiscation) merely by its existance.

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Re: Government consulatation on watercraft as ships - deadline 1st Nov

Post by Chris Bolton »

I can't agree.
Which bits don't you agree with?

I wrote "dangerous behaviour", and I suggested the right to detain should be limited to powered craft.

It's possible for any vessel to behave dangerously, for example by improperly impeding larger vessels in a narrow channel. I don't expect it to happen, but I don't have a good argument against having sanctions if it does.

Detain doesn't mean confiscate, it just means stop it from going to sea, but I agree it shouldn't apply to kayaks, and I explained that in my previous post.

Edit: whether you agree with what you think I wrote, or not, send your views to DTI, as I have done, don't just debate here.

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Re: Government consulatation on watercraft as ships - deadline 1st Nov

Post by ChrisJK »

I am following this thread and can see it could theoretically affect me. However anything can be dangerous, whether it has storage compartments and motorised or not. There are some total pratts on surf boards who shave their way through other surfers,body boarders and swiimmers but they won't be included in this?. I think that Jet ski's need legislation rather than a blanket cover for virtually anything that moves on the water. Is a Coracle or a Canoe going to be included as ships? The law is possibly an Ass?

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Re: Government consulatation on watercraft as ships - deadline 1st Nov

Post by pathbrae »

I'm not sure what the concern is here? It's not a particularly well worded document but is it such a bad thing if there's a loop-hole closed where the irresponsible use of any watercraft can escape prosecution?
Or do we all think that, as sea kayakers, we are never going to be seen as reckless so it shouldn't apply to us??
So much sea - so little time to see it.

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Re: Government consulatation on watercraft as ships - deadline 1st Nov

Post by eskapist »

Regrettably I fear that there will sooner or later eventually be some sort of legislation. Government governs and looks after the public purse and particularly in the western democracies is increasingly influenced by hand wringers, do gooders and the safety brigade who have sufficient examples of stupidity and reckless behaviour by members of the public to show that an activity is dangerous. Regarding water activities, every year there are reports of half witted adults who have to be rescued after taking wife and kids in an inflatable boat out into bays and estuaries without a single PFD or any other gear, or while inebriated, or into bad weather and busy channels,.
Apart from the risk to the rescue services, and innocent people, there's nearly always a financial cost which rarely is met by the rescued.
I'm well over 70 and every activity and every hobby that I've enjoyed throughout my life is now regulated or has become increasingly restrictive, be it model aircraft flying, light aircraft, motorcycle building and riding, kitcar building, smallholding. In just about all of these activities, safety or perceived public risk has been the motivator for restrictions.
mrcharly is right in saying that there's no dangerous kayaks just dangerous people, but it's far easier for government to regulate/ licence/register the material goods than to alter people's attitude or tell them how to behave.
I would imagine that for all of us here, safety gear is already part of our kit and upgraded according to what we are going to do and none of us is likely to accompany anyone inappropriately equipped, we are likely to be registered with BCU or one or more clubs and be appropriately insured anyway, so I can't see any reason to be bothered by registration. I'll be more bothered about being restricted to where and when I might be permitted to paddle by someone in " authority"

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Re: Government consulatation on watercraft as ships - deadline 1st Nov

Post by Mark Graham »

Just seen the other thread about Ibiza to Formentara. Let's hope this doesn't lead to something similar applying here eventually. Imagine being prohibited from paddling to Skye on pain of compulsory rescue! Or requiring some sort of permit or licence, no doubt granted by some authority at a cost.

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Re: Government consulatation on watercraft as ships - deadline 1st Nov

Post by pathbrae »

Mark Graham wrote:
Sun Oct 31, 2021 2:22 pm
Just seen the other thread about Ibiza to Formentara. Let's hope this doesn't lead to something similar applying here eventually. Imagine being prohibited from paddling to Skye on pain of compulsory rescue! Or requiring some sort of permit or licence, no doubt granted by some authority at a cost.
...or if you could only go as part of an "organised trip" lead by an "aproved provider". Now that would be my ultimate nightmare scenario!
So much sea - so little time to see it.

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Re: Government consulatation on watercraft as ships - deadline 1st Nov

Post by mrcharly »

pathbrae wrote:
Sun Oct 31, 2021 11:57 am
I'm not sure what the concern is here? It's not a particularly well worded document but is it such a bad thing if there's a loop-hole closed where the irresponsible use of any watercraft can escape prosecution?
Or do we all think that, as sea kayakers, we are never going to be seen as reckless so it shouldn't apply to us??
The problem is with the wording. It doesn't talk about 'irresponsible use', but 'dangerous watercraft'.

As we know, that is a nonsense. There are people who could safely paddle a bathtub at sea. Then there are those who just don't have the skills and knowledge.

I wouldn't object to something that talked about irresponsible use. That is reasonable.

As worded, the legislation would allow a harbour master (who doesn't like kayaks) to arbitrarily impound the boats when a group of experienced people are wanting to launch in a harbour.

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Re: Government consulatation on watercraft as ships - deadline 1st Nov

Post by darylf »

Having read this document, poorly worded as it is, I don't really see much of a problem with it.

It seems designed to cover a loophole whereby dangerous use of watercraft of various kinds is not able to be prosecuted.

I don't believe for one moment that people are going to be having their kayaks impounded by army officers or aberrant harbour masters as a result of this.

But as suggested above, whatever your views, respond to the consultation and then at least they will be heard where it matters.

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Re: Government consulatation on watercraft as ships - deadline 1st Nov

Post by Chris Bolton »

I'm not sure what the concern is here?
I don't see a serious problem with the proposal to regulate dangerous behaviour. The problem is with the later sections, on equipment standards and power to detain, and the 'mission creep' within the proposal. Putting so many different types of watercraft into single category is workable for the purpose of dangerous behaviour, but not for equipment or judging whether a vessel is safe. The starting point is protecting other people from dangerous use, but when they get into detaining 'unsafe watercraft' this means unsafe for the users - and I don't want people who know nothing about kayaks deciding whether a kayak is unsafe for the paddler.
Imagine being prohibited from paddling to Skye on pain of compulsory rescue!
They are proposing, in this legislation, to give people the power to stop you taking your boat out if they think it's unsafe.

It starts out to deal with irresponsible use of jetskis, but then brings in huge scope of other watercraft, without any understanding of what those craft are or how they are operated safely. It sets out how many jetskis there are, but ignores the fact that jetskis are only 3% of the scope. Despite not having actually considered how many people it affects, they have decided a formal impact assessment isn't necessary. It says "The legislation, rules and offences are already well known and understood within the sector" - I think they mean the commercial marine sector - the majority of people who go on the sea in kayaks and paddleboards haven't even heard of the Merchant Shipping Act.

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Re: Government consulatation on watercraft as ships - deadline 1st Nov

Post by Chris Bolton »

It doesn't talk about 'irresponsible use', but 'dangerous watercraft'.
When it's talking about danger to others, it does refer to dangerous use, irresponsible use, and prosecution for that.

Only when it's talking about power to detain does it talk about dangerous watercraft - in that context, it's danger to to the user. You may need to read the original Act to get that context.

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Re: Government consulatation on watercraft as ships - deadline 1st Nov

Post by ChrisJK »

Thanks Chris
Have you not personally seen absolute idiots setting out in insane conditions with equipment that might be safe to a skilled user but possibly lethal to those you see eg "There are people who could safely paddle a bathtub at sea. Then there are those who just don't have the skills and knowledge."
I am sceptical but there are possibly responsible Jetski drivers out there and conversely overconfident kayakers who haven't a clue?
I have noticed cyclists who are so focused on their personal best that they have an utter disregard for anything in their way regardless of the fact that they may be dangerous to others.
Yes there are always loopholes which is why folks employ overpaid and pedantic lawyers to find them.

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Re: Government consulatation on watercraft as ships - deadline 1st Nov

Post by Chris Bolton »

Have you not personally seen absolute idiots setting out in insane conditions with equipment that is safe to a skilled user
I have, and I've also seen experienced paddlers setting out perfectly safely to do things that a non-paddler would say was unsafe. There's nothing in the proposal that would allow people to be stopped on the basis of their skill, only on the basis of whether their boat is considered safe to use, and the people who would be allowed to make that judgement don't have to know anything about paddling.

It looks to me as if somebody has drafted the proposal, to deliver the stated objective of allowing prosecution for dangerous use of jetskis etc, and somebody more senior has tried to extend the scope, without using due process.

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Re: Government consulatation on watercraft as ships - deadline 1st Nov

Post by ChrisJK »

Thanks Chris
Unfortunately tomorrow is the guillotine to slice out the incompetence of Sir This or That or Mp for X or Y

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Re: Government consulatation on watercraft as ships - deadline 1st Nov

Post by Franky »

Chris Bolton wrote:
Sun Oct 31, 2021 7:42 pm
It doesn't talk about 'irresponsible use', but 'dangerous watercraft'.
When it's talking about danger to others, it does refer to dangerous use, irresponsible use, and prosecution for that.

Only when it's talking about power to detain does it talk about dangerous watercraft - in that context, it's danger to to the user. You may need to read the original Act to get that context.
But the term "dangerous watercraft" is ambiguous and totally open to interpretation. Pretty much everything in the world is dangerous in some circumstances to someone. A door is "dangerous" - you can amputate your finger in one. Should we ban doors?

You can legislate to remove all risk from life - but would it really be life any more?

Problems with jet skis are easy to deal with - legislation can be brought in (if it's required) pertaining to motorised vehicles.

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Re: Government consulatation on watercraft as ships - deadline 1st Nov

Post by Chris Bolton »

But the term "dangerous watercraft" is ambiguous and totally open to interpretation.
I agree with you, but I don't understand the point you're making. I'm objecting to the proposal to allow 'officials' to detain dangerous watercraft.
Problems with jet skis are easy to deal with - legislation can be brought in (if it's required) pertaining to motorised vehicles
'Vehicles' are used on land. The legislation that this thread is about started off as a proposal to manage problems with jetskis, but has been expanded to cover anything that carries people on the water unless it's unpowered and less than 2.5m long.

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Re: Government consulatation on watercraft as ships - deadline 1st Nov

Post by Mark Graham »

I wonder if the powers that be could possibly think sea kayaks are less than 2.5m long? It seems obvious to us but perhaps not to whoever drafted the legislation.

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Re: Government consulatation on watercraft as ships - deadline 1st Nov

Post by on the rocks »

From the consultation:

"There are approximately 14-16,000 available PWCs in the UK with about 1,200 new
craft arriving each year. Their life expectancy is about 8 to 10 years. Over 90 per cent
of new PWCs are sit-on craft with the remaining mainly used for organised racing.
The average age of an owner is 35 and the majority of craft are 2/3 seater"

We sea kayakers don't seem to exist

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Re: Government consulatation on watercraft as ships - deadline 1st Nov

Post by Chris Bolton »

We sea kayakers don't seem to exist
Correct, and nor do the rest of the 2 million or so users of 'watercraft' other than jetskis/PWCs. The scope of the legislation seems to have been increased after the supporting data was gathered, and that means it's flawed. We have to rely to some extent on the people who drafted it being aware of the implications; they can't have been.

Please send your comment to DTI before 23:45 today!

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Re: Government consulatation on watercraft as ships - deadline 1st Nov

Post by Aled »

Response sent...
My conclusion - On the whole, this is an ill conceived botch job – if PWCs are a problem, then laws should address this specifically instead of a lazy sweep up of anything that floats / or isn’t a proven problem. Small human powered craft, e.g. 8ft surfboards, should not be in scope for a ‘ships register’. Ambiguity to what is 'unsafe watercraft' should be removed as it would unenforceable, immensely bureaucratic, and likely unfair. Britain has a fine tradition of liberty and freedoms – this should be preserved always, but laws to prosecute those who endanger the lives of others are welcome. This ‘grab all’ approach is ill-conceived, it would be virtually impossible to enforce given the scope of craft identified. If laws are to be made, they should be specific, fit for purpose, and fair – on the whole, this proposal does not achieve this.
Aled
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