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All new boats built in
Europesince 1998 must comply to the RCD (Recreational Craft Directive). Within this directive are 4 design categories. A, B, C and D.
The lowest cost barges, designed for predominantly canal use in the
will likely be category 'D'. Most new built Replica Dutch barges are built to RCD Cat 'C' which is deemed suitable for wind speeds up to force 6 and significant wave height to 2m. A few barges are designed and built to Cat 'B' requirements. UK
When buying a new unfinished barge (eg. shell or sailaway), the builder must still categorise the boat, up to supplied level of build. Therefore you can buy a sailaway barge that conforms to RCD Cat 'B, C or D' requirements. But because it is unfinished, a full conformation certificate will not be issued, as, for example, a Cat 'C' barge must take into account anchoring capabilities, the electrical installation, gas installation, navigation lights, waste water discharge and have suitable fire extinguishers on board.
It should also be noted that even if a barge is built to and comes with a Cat C & B certificate, many pleasure
insurances will only only cover up to Force 4 / forecast force 4 winds.
It is often understood to be very difficult for the normal DIY enthusiast to get a RCD certificate of compliance after they have completed their boat. But there are now companies that specialise in helping DIY enthusiasts obtain this appliance.
Generally a 'compliance up to build', which is CE marked, plus a
Boat Safety Scheme (BSS) certificate is deemed acceptable for most purposes, including insurance and navigation licences. The BSS is not required for 5 years (five year exclusion rule). But likely an RCD certificate of compliance at completion level would make any barge more appealing for buyers and give owners reassurance that compliance has been met.
ESSENTIAL SAFETY REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION OF RECREATIONAL CRAFT - 1. BOAT DESIGN CATEGORIES
Significant Wave height
A ~ "Ocean"
Exceeding Beaufort 8
Exceeding 4 m
Very few Barges built to this spec.
B ~ "Offshore"
Up to force 8 inclusive
Up to and including 4 m
Few Replica Dutch Barges built to this category
C - "Inshore"
Up to force 6 inclusive
Up to and including 2 m
Most Replica Dutch Barges are built to this category
D - "Sheltered waters"
Up to force 4 inclusive
Up to and including 0,5 m
All Narrowboats and most low cost Broad Beam Barges
Significant wave height means the average height of the highest 1/3rd of the waves over a given period. Waves of double that height may occasionally be experienced.
The RCD Defines Design Category as:-
A. OCEAN: Designed for extended voyages where conditions may exceed wind force 8 (Beaufort scale) and significant wave heights of 4 m and above but excluding abnormal conditions, and vessels largely self-sufficient.
B. OFFSHORE: Designed for offshore voyages where conditions up to, and including, wind force 8 and significant wave heights up to, and including, 4 m may be experienced.
C. INSHORE: Designed for voyages in coastal waters, large bays, estuaries, lakes and rivers where conditions up to, and including, wind force 6 and significant wave heights up to, and including, 2 m may be experienced.
D. SHELTERED WATERS: Designed for voyages on sheltered coastal waters, small bays, small lakes, rivers and canals when conditions up to, and including, wind force 4 and significant wave heights up to, and including, 0.3 m may be experienced, with occasional waves of 0.5 m maximum height, for example from passing vessels.
The directive also states that:-
Craft in each Category must be designed and constructed to withstand these parameters in respect of stability, buoyancy, and other relevant essential requirements listed in Annex I, and to have good handling characteristics.
There are special criteria to be considered with Kit Boats, Sailaways, and boats fitted out from finished hulls whereby compliance has to be demonstrated and certified by the manufacturer to the extent of their involvement. (Partly Built Craft).
A few salient points from the directive are listed below:-
Depending on the design category, craft shall be designed to minimize the risks of falling overboard and to facilitate reboarding.
For motor boats, the main steering position shall give the operator, under normal conditions of use (speed and load), good all-round visibility.
The craft shall have sufficient stability and freeboard considering its design category according to section 1 and the manufacturer's maximum recommended load according to section 3.6.
Openings in hull, deck(s) and superstructure shall not impair the structural integrity of the craft or its weathertight integrity when closed.
Windows, portlights, doors and hatchcovers shall withstand the water pressure likely to be encountered in their specific position, as well as pointloads applied by the weight of persons moving on deck.
All craft shall be designed so as to minimize the risk of sinking. Particular attention should be paid where appropriate to:
cockpits and wells, which should be self-draining or have other means of keeping water out of the boat interior
removal of water by pumps or other means.
All habitable multihull craft over 12 metres long shall be provided with viable means of escape in the event of inversion. All habitable craft shall be provided with viable means of escape in the event of fire.
All craft, taking into account their design category and their characteristics shall be fitted with one or more strong points or other means capable of safely accepting anchoring, mooring and towing loads.
The manufacturer shall ensure that the handling characteristics of the craft are satisfactory with the most powerful engine for which the boat is designed and constructed. For all recreational marine engines, the maximum rated engine power shall be declared in the owner's manual in accordance with the harmonized standard.
All inboard mounted engines shall be placed within an enclosure separated from living quarters and installed so as to minimize the risk of fires or spread of fires as well as hazards from toxic fumes, heat, noise or vibrations in the living quarters.
Engine parts and accessories that require frequent inspection and/or servicing shall be readily accessible.
The insulating materials inside engine spaces shall be non-combustible.
The engine compartment shall be ventilated. The dangerous ingress of water into the engine compartment through all inlets must be prevented.
Unless the engine is protected by a cover or its own enclosure, exposed moving or hot parts of the engine that could cause personal injury shall be effectively shielded.
Electrical systems shall be designed and installed so as to ensure proper operation of the craft under normal conditions of use and shall be such as to minimize risk of fire and electric shock.
Attention shall be paid to the provision of overload and short-circuit protection of all circuits, except engine starting circuits, supplied from batteries.
Ventilation shall be provided to prevent the accumulation of gases which might be emitted from batteries. Batteries shall be firmly secured and protected from ingress of water
Steering systems shall be designed, constructed and installed in order to allow the transmission of steering loads under foreseeable operating conditions.
Sailboat and single-engined inboard powered motor boats with remote-controlled rudder steering systems shall be provided with emergency means of steering the craft at reduced speed.
Gas systems for domestic use shall be of the vapour-withdrawal type and shall be designed and installed so as to avoid leaks and the risk of explosion and be capable of being tested for leaks. Materials and components shall be suitable for the specific gas used to withstand the stresses and exposures found in the marine environment.
Each appliance shall be equipped with a flame failure device effective on all burners. Each gas-consuming appliance must be supplied by a separate branch of the distribution system, and each appliance must be controlled by a separate closing device. Adequate ventilation must be provided to prevent hazards from leaks and products of combustion.
All craft with a permanently installed gas system shall be fitted with an enclosure to contain all gas cylinders. The enclosure shall be separated from the living quarters, accessible only from the outside and ventilated to the outside so that any escaping gas drains overboard. Any permanent gas system shall be tested after installation.
The type of equipment installed and the layout of the craft shall take account of the risk and spread of fire. Special attention shall be paid to the surroundings of open flame devices, hot areas or engines and auxiliary machines, oil and fuel overflows, uncovered oil and fuel pipes and avoiding electrical wiring above hot areas of machines.
Craft shall be supplied with fire-fighting equipment appropriate to the fire hazard. Petrol engine enclosures shall be protected by a fire extinguishing system that avoids the need to open the enclosure in the event of fire. Where fitted, portable fire extinguishers shall be readily accessible and one shall be so positioned that it can easily be reached from the main steering position of the craft.
For annexes and further information see the full directive at:-
Created 20th April 2004 - Last updated 20 December 2009