Boating fails – Nathan Nichols, director of Cruise Craft, on the inconvenient truth of boating regulations.
The rumours are true. I took the opportunity to launch into a very passionate discussion at a recent product launch. In my view, The Captain – which otherwise does a great job of informing and entertaining the public – had overlooked some important safety issues. You see, we’re very passionate about boats, but we’re also very passionate about the industry and its reputation. Nichols Bros. was started by my grandfather, Roy, in 1946, later launching Cruise Craft in 1960. That’s more than 70 years of family history I’m keen to protect. I also want to make sure we’ve got another 70 years of safe boating, but that’s under threat.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking The Captain to be the police or boating authority. However, I believe we should all understand what it takes to be legally compliant. By “we”, I mean Cruise Craft, the industry, The Captain – and you, the boat owners.
There are many rules and regulations, but here are three important issues I want to share. As an Australian boat manufacturer (and anyone importing a vessel into Australia) you must legally comply with these national standards. Just how many of us do is debatable.
1. BY LAW YOUR BOAT MUST HAVE AN AUSTRALIAN BUILDERS PLATE
Every boat manufactured in Australia or imported from overseas since 2006 must be fitted with an Australian Builders Plate. There are some exceptions and they’re included on the website below. The plate must include specific data and it is the responsibility of the manufacturer or importer to ensure the vessel is compliant with those standards.
Find out more at: www. anzsbeg.com.au/files/7214/4920/4748/ABP_Ed_4.pdf
2. BY LAW, BOATS 6M AND UNDER HAVE A MAXIMUM-RATED HORSEPOWER
The maximum-rated horsepower must be calculated for vessels 6m and under according to AS1799-ABYC Standards and stamped on the Australian Builders Plate. This is not the easiest test to perform, but it is carried out competently the world over, including Australia. The information is contained in the website listed above.
3. BY LAW, YOU MUST COMPLY WITH AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL OVERSIZE/OVERWEIGHT TOWING REGULATIONS
This issue really is the elephant in the room. Everyone seems to be aware of it, but not many are doing anything about it. Perhaps they don’t want to be the first to be caught? Or maybe they’re just sticking their heads in the sand hoping it will go away. We’d love to build a trailer boat with a 2.6m beam – and consumers and dealers are always asking us to build a boat over 7.5m long. But when you start to put the design together on paper, the boat needs 500 litres of fuel, two 225HP engines, 100L of water plus safety gear and a tri-axle trailer. Very quickly, you get outside the towing specifications for most tow vehicles. Even dry and lightly loaded with fuel, it’s virtually impossible to meet the legal towing requirements behind a Toyota LandCruiser.
At some point, the customer will unwittingly tow an overweight or over-width (or both) boat down to the ramp or to a distant holiday destination. God help them (or us as an industry) if something goes wrong. Apart from the obvious danger of a highway accident, hugely expensive court proceedings will result in a bad outcome for all parties, particularly the consumer. Is this scenario a dumb mistake or caused by people burying their heads in the sand?
The standards and regulations are in place to eliminate such uncertainty and protect us. As manufacturers, importers, dealers the media and the public we need to work smarter and harder to support them. We need to ensure boaters of the future have a safe and enjoyable opportunity to participate in this awesome pastime. We sure hope The Captain joins us in this endeavour – and we thank them for the opportunity to have our voice heard.
A FINAL NOTE: Some people will have you believe that BOATstands for Better Organise Another Thousand. We reckon it stands for Best Of All Times!