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To experience the South African boating culture at its peak, you WILL require the Skipper’s License in South Africa. Sometimes referred to as ‘Skipper Ticket’, this license allows you to drive various types of boats, depending on your license type. However, not all boating activities require a skipper’s license in South Africa. Let’s find out how that works in this article.

What can I do without a Skipper License in South Africa?

Then you do not need a skipper’s license to drive a boat. This includes any small powerboats with engines less than or equal to 15hp, non-engine vessels like rowboats, and kayaks. Sailboats of any length will always require a SAMSA Skipper License in South Africa.

Also, all Jet Skis do fall under specific categories. This is determined through a survey by a local sporting body authorised by SAMSA. Jet Skis under 3m will always be considered Category R vessels as per the SAMSA regulations.

However, driving a boat as an unlicensed skipper means you will have to follow certain restrictions too.

Restrictions for boaters Without a Skipper License in South Africa

Without a skipper’s license, you cannot experience the South African boating culture to the fullest. Also, before you ask, the answer is yes. Unlicensed skippers can take their small vessels to the sea. However, you will have to follow certain restrictions there as well.

You can only drive your boat in restricted zones. These zones are usually located in inland waterbodies and fall under a local authority, usually a sporting body appointed by SAMSA.

You barely have a chance to take your boat to the sea. Even at the sea, you may only drive your small vessel in a restricted zone set by a local authority.

Even then, it is not quite uncommon to see frowning reactions upon telling your local authority that you do not have a skipper license. Despite being valid, technically, an authority might deny you to take your vessel out on the water. This is usually for your safety. So, do comply even if you are technically allowed to take the vessel on the waters.

This is why you must aim for a skipper’s license. Yes, it may cost you. But you can safely explore South African waters without being frowned upon.

As for the Boats operated by Unlicensed Skippers

Whether you are licensed or not, you are bound to follow the general regulations set for recreational boaters.

Quoting from South African Sailing,

“In terms of the National Small Vessel Safety Regulations (2007), recreational sailing vessels < 9m and recreational power vessels ≤15HP do not require an approved marking or a safety certificate, and the skipper does not require a CoC., but they must still meet the construction and safety equipment requirements defined in the National Small Vessel Safety Regulations.”

We highly recommend you read the National Small Vessel Safety of 2007 if you are interested in understanding the matter.

Should I consider getting the Skipper’s License in South Africa?

The short answer is, yes. Is it worth getting the license? Yes as well.

Even if you are a casual boater, you should consider getting a skipper’s license in South Africa. By doing so, you help South African authorities by following the regulations and helping keep the waters safer. It will also give you peace of mind while enjoying your recreational boating activity to the fullest.

Besides that, you also unlock more possibilities of experiencing the South African boating culture to the fullest. The experience alone makes it worth getting a skipper’s ticket in South Africa.

Alternatively, you may also get the RYA Powerboat licenses. While they are valid in South Africa, at some point, you will still have to get a skipper’s license.

Summary

So, is it worth getting a skipper’s ticket in South Africa? Definitely yes. Do you absolutely need it? This answer completely depends on how you want to boat in South Africa. If you are a very casual boater, rarely taking your boat out on the waters, then you do not need the license. However, if you expect a better experience while not having the license? That’s not possible.

For a deeper understanding of the matter, we advise you to read the Marine Notice No. 13 of 2011, published by SAMSA.

South Africa is blessed with natural beauty and water bodies. Besides, the easy access to oceans around South Africa makes it hard to ignore getting a skipper’s license. If you are based in Cape Town and looking for a Skipper’s License, Skipper Training SA can help you out. Contact us for more information.

What can I drive without a Skipper License in South Africa?