Riding a Jet Ski is a unique, thrilling experience; fearlessly cutting the waves and feeling the wind in your hair. All this on a tiny vessel powered by a high-speed engine. If that does not sound thrilling, then I don’t know what does. So, is the Category R license for Jet Skis in South Africa? The answer is a tad bit more complicated than a simple ‘yes’. Let’s find out in this article.

The Category R License for Jet Skis in South Africa

In South Africa, the Category R license allows a skipper to drive a powerboat of less than 9 metres in length, having an engine of 15hp or more. For Jet Skis, any Jet Skis under 3 metres in length are Category R vessels by default. Thus, a Category R Skipper License can only be used to drive a Jet Ski under 3 metres in length. This license is issued by SAMSA – South African Maritime Safety Authority.

Also, as a Category R vessel, Jet Skis under 3 metres cannot be taken to the seas except in certain designated areas for Category R vessels. Even within those areas, a Jet Ski is not allowed to go deeper than 1000m from the shore. Furthermore, you can drive a jet ski only within a designated area set by the regulating authorities within sheltered waters.

But how about Jet Skis over 3 metres in length? The Category R license in this case will not be sufficient. The answer is no. So, what’s next?

Categories of Jet Skis in South Africa

Depending on the size and the purpose, Jet Skis can also be classified as Category E and D vessels. The category is based on the purpose of the vessel and the designated area.

For example, if a jet ski is being driven in a designated area made for Category D vessels, then your Jet Ski will be classified as a Category D vessel.

Also, all Jet Skis must have sufficient buoyancy according to their assigned category. Category D and E must have roughly 60% buoyancy and Category R must have a 30% buoyancy at minimum.

Jet Ski Surveys and Assessment

While recreational jet skis do not need annual surveys from local SAMSA-appointed authorities, commercial jet skis do. Commercial jet skis require licensing, numbering from SAMSA (approved marking), and annual surveying.

All commercial jet skis must hold a valid Local General Safety Certification. SAMSA will issue this certificate after doing their regular annual survey. Only certified skippers of appropriate categories are allowed to handle these vessels. For example, a Category C skipper can handle all sorts of jet skis. However, a Category R skipper can only drive Category R jet skis and other vessels.

Recreational jet skis do not need annual surveys, however, they still will require an approved marking and a certificate of fitness. These jet skis are to be operated by a certified skipper or under the guidance of a certified skipper.

The approved marking can be obtained from any authorised agency; generally a sporting body approved by SAMSA. They can also issue the Certificate of Fitness for the vessel annually.

Final Words

So, there’s your answer. The Category R Skipper’s License in South Africa only allows you to drive Category R jet skis. For Jet Skis above 3 metres in length, you will have to upgrade your Category R license to E or D, whichever suits your needs.

This article follows the information from the SAMSA’s document on Jet Ski regulations in South Africa. You may read the complete document here. It is possible that the information collected in this document may be incomplete or outdated. If you have any questions regarding the regulations, we encourage you to contact SAMSA authorities for clarification. The contacts are present in the document.

If you are looking for a Skipper’s License in South Africa, you have to take the SAMSA exam for skippers. Skipper Training SA can help you with obtaining the license. For more information, feel free to connect with us today or check our website.

Is the Category R License enough for Jet Skis in South Africa?