5th December 2022
How do I prepare to license for yacht charter in Spanish waters?


How To Get Charter Boat License (Balearic Charter Yacht  Licence)

Recently one of our Berthon Spain Guardiennage clients asked us about preparing their boat to comply with MCA regulations in order for yacht charter in Spanish waters – by obtaining a Balearic Charter Yacht  Licence.

The yacht in question, a UK flagged Sunseeker Manhattan 55, was already kept to a high standard by her owners. She has been under Berthon Guardiennage care since 2020. The nominated MCA surveyor, chosen by the owners, along with our Guardiennage captain, had to go through the whole boat with a fine-tooth comb and highlight any items that needed attention. From this exercise, a report was compiled with a full 38 points for attention, plus a further 8 points if the boat was intended to be chartered with crew.

As it was with this situation, you may find that there are already many of the listed items onboard for example binoculars, a steering compass, buckets with lanyards, a boat hook, nautical charts, a national flag and a number of the necessary flares.

In this scenario, because of the UK flag, we can refer to regulations set by the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency as guidance for regulations in Spanish waters. The corresponding official legislation from the Spanish government, which became law in 2021, regulating the security equipment and prevention of pollution for recreational vessels, also needed to be consulted.

preparing your yacht for charter in spain

As an example, these are some of the points of action that were required on board this particular motor yacht:

  • The interior and exterior cushions needed to be treated with a fire-retardant spray.
  • In the engine room, three plastic seacocks were replaced with bronze ones.
  • Extra portable VHF radios had to be purchased and stowed in a designated locker.
  • An Emergency Action card ie mayday instructions, had to be displayed next to the fixed VHF radio on board.
  • Down below, lockers and cupboards containing safety equipment eg first aid kits, fire blankets in the galley, fire extinguishers and life jackets, had to be labelled on the exterior.
  • Warnings of “Do Not Open At Sea” labels are stuck to every single interior hatch.
  • Spanish charter regulations stipulate that an EPIRB must be on board. After purchase it needed to be programmed with the boat’s details and then fitted on board.
  • Torches for emergency use only had to be supplied in each cabin, and wall mounted brackets to hold them in had to be installed.
  • The SOLAS #1 table provided by the MCA describing life saving signals and rescue methods had to be purchased and stowed on board along with a “training manual” type folder containing instruction literature for all safety items on board.
  • A kedge anchor and specified length of chain needed to be added to the boat’s inventory.
  • A manual bilge pump with the correct rated capacity needed to be installed along with the automatic bilge pump.
  • Battery operated fire detectors had to be fitted in each cabin.
  • A simplified Inclining Test was carried out to confirm the stability of the vessel, this required 11 staff members on board plus the surveyor!
  • The boat name needed to be displayed on the horseshoe life rings, which were also regulated in having lights, floating lines and drogues.
  • The tender also had to display the parent boat name.
  • As you would expect, a 12 person SOLAS standard life raft, and 12 life jackets, each equipped with a whistle, retroreflective material and a light were required.
  • A log book of the above safety equipment was also necessary, taking into account all details ranging from fire extinguishers service dates, flare expiry dates, safety light batteries and portable VHF batteries replacement dates.

items required for yacht charter in spain

For the most part, the regulations from the MCA and the Spanish equivalent run along the same lines. There were two differences noted in this example – the EPIRB was a specification of the Spanish rules but was not necessary for the MCA. The other difference being in the details of the horseshoe buoys provided on board. The Spanish regulations only ask for one life ring whereas the MCA require 2 – one with a light, one with a floating line, and both with drogues.

The task of purchasing and fitting the additional equipment was assigned to the guardiennage team to complete on behalf of the owners. The role of the surveyors was to check they were completed to satisfaction. In this instance, a haul out was necessary to change three of the seacocks from plastic to metal. The surveyors did take this opportunity for a visual inspection of the hull, but this would not normally be necessary.

Additional items that could be on the yacht surveyors checklist:

  • Vessel registration papers.
  • Main and auxiliary engines.
  • Hull.
  • Mast and rigging, if applicable.
  • Electrical installations.
  • Emergency rescue equipment, fire safety systems and communication systems.
  • Navigation lights, anchoring equipment and day shapes.
  • Gas installations.
  • Navigational charts and the tools for their use ie Bretton plotter and dividers.
  • First aid kit – the type of first aid kit depends on whether the intended charters are crewed or not.
  • Additional to the steering compass, a deviation table and a bearing compass.

With all the paperwork lodged with the correct authorities, and the license granted, you are then free to welcome paying guests on board your yacht.

If you would like to know more about our services –

Contact andrew.fairbrass@berthonspain.com.

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