View Full Version : help me with the law

08-05-2001, 12:27 PM
I wish build a big wooden boat designed by me :33ft .
I ask you If you have restriction to the building in your country .If you need an autorization by the governement to build or if you are free.
If you need an architet design or can you build your design .
Tank you for your time and your answers.
I live in Italy ,so I f can I help you tell me .
if you could be interested to build someting of similar or need the same informations contact me we can try toogheter.
A n excellent italian book on designs is :LO YACHT author :CARLO SCIARELLI.
maybe you will lose tge text just in italian but you will have greats designs.
Thank you .
Iam 26 student.


08-05-2001, 01:38 PM
Welcome Lorenzo.
There are no restrictions on boat building in America...no government requirements for authorizations, you are free to build your own design or that of an architect..it is your choice how you build, when you build or where you build. It's all your choice...

08-05-2001, 01:49 PM
Hello Lorenzo,

I would only add to Paladins's eloquent explanation that some more urban areas do control, control, control. Minor officials are similar the world over.

Why do you ask? Planning to emigrate? Most welcome.


Bob Cleek
08-05-2001, 02:15 PM
While I admire your ambition, I think it would not be helpful to omit commenting that if you are 26 years old, wish to build a 33' boat, and are not a naval architect yourself, you will almost certainly find a boat more suitable and of better design to have already been designed. I urge you to research the many fine designs already available and proven by the test of time.

08-05-2001, 05:41 PM
Just as an aside and additional information....
In Vietnam you can build a boat..any boat.
But..to acquire a marine engine to go in the boat you must submit papers for government approval to purchase.....and after you have the engine you cannot install it. NOW..you must submit paperwork for approval to install the engine in the boat..........
all this just in case you are doing extensive research...... http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/biggrin.gif

08-05-2001, 08:23 PM
Here in the US you would probably have more trouble getting a permit to build the shed to build the boat in but there are no restrictions ont actually building the boat. In the EC however, there are some pretty strict regulations as to boat safety. You may be faced with certification of the design to one of the standard ratings. (sheltered waters, inshore, Offshore, Ocean) I know it will have to be certified before you can sell it.

Check out http://members.aol.com/imcibrux/edir.htm and http://europa.eu.int/eur-lex/en/lif/dat/1994/en_394L0025.html

Ed Harrow
08-05-2001, 09:34 PM
Ahhh, Bob? Have you forgotten?

"The desire to build a house is the tired wish of a man content thenceforward with a single anchorage. The desire to build a boat is the desire of youth, unwilling yet to accept the idea of a final resting place." Arthur Ransome.

That said, Marrilorenzo, building a large boat is a very large undertaking. Designing and building a large boat is orders of magnitude larger. We can't tell anything from your posting as to your skills and knowledge in either area.

However, as others have noted, in the US there are no restrictions on building a boat, to your own design or another's design, UNLESS one was planning to charge people to take trips with you.

08-06-2001, 12:08 AM
As Ed Harrow was saying . . . if you are building (in the USA) for your own use then there are no restrictions. You will have to get a boat registration once it is built but they don't look at the boat -only the color of your money. However, here in America people tend to rely excessively upon Insurance Companies to take care of life's little problems so you wind up having to protect yourself with liability insurance.

If you want to use a boat commercially here in America then you will find that there is a body of laws governing the building of your boat. You don't need a permit to begin construction but you do have to satisfy United States Coast Guard regulations and they can be very detailed as to the approved construction and design details. Also, all vessels used for carrying passengers in US waters must be built in the US (there are wrinkles to that law I know nothing about but . . .).

As for satisfying the insurance companies, actually the demands they make are usually pretty sensible. If you build/design your boat (here in the USA) to the American Bureau of Yacht Construction Rules (ABYC rules) then you really cannot go wrong. Following the ABYC rules isn't mandatory but is still a good idea. Copies of the rules cost about $125 from ABYC.

[This message has been edited by PugetSound (edited 08-06-2001).]

Bruce Hooke
08-06-2001, 09:35 AM
Adding to Ed's quote I would say that the desire to build a boat to one's own design is also the desire of youth, and of the artist, to risk much on the possibility of creating something new, unique, and truely one's own, instead of taking the safe route of re-creating an old design about which so much is already known. While the probable result of building to one's own design is a boat that is worse than the best of what has gone before, there is always the chance that it will be slighly better than what has gone before; and even if the former is the outcome there is still great satisfaction to be derived from knowing that it is your own design. Think where we would be if no one had taken the risk of stepping into the unknown in this way in the past.

That said, I think anyone venturing down this path needs to be very honest with themself about the risk they are taking -- that all their work building the boat may result in an ugly boat that doesn't sail well. One way to mitigate some of the risk is to pay an experienced yacht designer to review the plans and I would highly recommend that route with a boat of this size.

Nora Lee
08-06-2001, 10:01 AM
Puget Sound,

You mentioned the wrinkles in the law about a foreign built boat, I would like you to share them if you will, as Sea Fever was built in Vietnam and powered and rigged in Maylaysia. Capt. Jon and I would like to have the option to six pack her if possible.


Nora Lee

08-06-2001, 01:25 PM
Nora Lee -

Waivers from the ``American Built'' rule are available. You have to petition MARAD. I don't know the ins and outs of the rules, but the successful ones seem to be those who are filling an un- or under-served market niche in their geographic area.

David Tabor (sailordave)
08-06-2001, 04:20 PM
"The desire to build a house is the tired wish of a man content thenceforward with a single anchorage. The desire to build a boat is the desire of youth, unwilling yet to accept the idea of a final resting place." Arthur Ransome.

Ah, Ed, I've done both, what does that make me? Although the house was sandwiched *between* boats so I guess I really regressed!!

Nora Lee
08-06-2001, 05:17 PM
By the sea;

Don't want to seem dumb but who is MARAD?


Bob Cleek
08-06-2001, 07:33 PM
United States Maritime Administration (MARAD)... I'm not completely sure, but I think you used to have to get a commercial license/document (six-pac or otherwise) through the USCG documentation office. It is a pretty difficult thing to get anything other than a yacht documentation on a foreign built hull... or used to be... but I'm no expert on this stuff.

08-06-2001, 10:43 PM
There was of course a gentleman by the name of Moitessier who designed and built a boat in Vietnam......

08-07-2001, 06:34 AM
yes, but Bernie didn't try to register his boat to carry folks for hire, as a matter of fact, he didn't like folks on his boat....

George Roberts
08-08-2001, 05:20 PM
There are no requirements on who may design or build a recreational boat but ...

The Coast Guard has a booklet "Safety standards for Backyard Builders" that has the requirements for a boat. This booklet covers items like floatation and ventilation of engine compartments.

Of course you need a hull ID number when the boat is finished to verify that you are the owner.

have fun with the task.

08-09-2001, 12:15 PM
More requests for info on how to get a foreign built vessel documented in the US to carry passengers is surely going to lead into a debate on the Jones Act.... This could become interesting.. Rgds, John

08-14-2001, 01:34 PM
As I understand the rule. The "6-pack" or the uninspected vessel operators permit is just that.
There are NO! requirements for the vessel. If the vessel in question does not need to be
registered in the state of operation It does not even need to be registered. Meet the USCG
min equipment standards (life vests, signaling devices, fire extinguishers etc.) and you are ready to go.

08-14-2001, 02:58 PM
Opps, I left a few things out. The vessel should meet the USCG stds. for vessels under 20 ft. if applicable. It must meet the std for ventilation of spaces used to store gasoline or for gas engines. There are, I'm sure a few more I can't think of off the top of my head.

I second the recommendation of the ABYC. You must join to get a copy of the stds. They
are now available on CD (at extra cost!) The stds are well written for the most part and are good common sense guidelines. If built to ABYC the vessel will comply with all US laws for pleasure craft, however I am not intimately familiar with the vessel inspection process but I know there will be some exceptions if the vessel is intended for passenger service.

The stds. being written for the EC seem to be a set of rules by bureaucrats for bureaucrats
and the few I have seen make far less sense and are quite difficult to understand as compared to the ABYC guidelines. Picture putting a team of bureaucrats from every EC country together and getting them ALL to agree on ANYTHING! Not a pretty picture!

I looked at a Brand new French built catamaran recently (names withheld to protect the incompetent from suing ME!). They have ISO certification and an offshore rating. The
bulkheads were lightly tabbed on one side only and the foam cores were NOT sealed. The
bulkheads were not seated to the hull, no elastometric spacers or anything! This boat will not survive! Famous designer/builders are capable of producing junk just as well as I am! but at huge expense. Compliance with extensive standards does not ensure a sound vessel.

Your desire to design and build presents a large task. Do your homework, draw lots of lines, compare them with other successful designs. Don't be afraid to copy others, especially the "classics". I have noticed a very negative response on this forum to persons wanting to draw their own boats. Probably kind people attempting to protect you from yourself. It is a big job, requiring lots of homework but it can be done. We all start somewhere.

When you get your drawings to a point you are thinking they are near ready, earlier if
practical, consult someone capable of critiquing your work. Pay them if need be! Get a well founded second, or third option before beginning construction of a project that will consume large qualities of time and money. Use a well established scanting rule if there is going to be no engineering analysis of the structure. Have the stability evaluated!! The list of things to do go's
on and on.

A book like Howard I. Chapelle's "Yacht Designing and Planning" (Excellent if a little dated) Will help you determine if this is something you want to undertake. You are only 26 and have lots of time to make things happen, more than a little will be spent learning the design process if you proceed.

How about out there. What else should go on this young man's ,or my, reading list?

08-14-2001, 07:00 PM
What do you suppose Lorenzo was actually asking? Lorenzooo... where are you? I assumed he wanted to know(for some unkown reason) if there were laws regarding boat building, by an individual, here in the states. I further assumed he was feeling some Italian pressure, from bakshesh or B.S. in abeyance, and was just curious about our laws. I wonder?

Isn't it grand, to live in America, where the shed is subject to greater scrutiny than the conveyance which will lift you to your passion--or possibly your doom? I think so, without a hint of sarcasm(though some good old boat baksheesh, a few dollar here and there to get the shed built might be in order rather than all these Chinese bribes and High Falutin Town Council bedroom eyes). "I mean, after all", the neighbor says, "the property values, the neighborhood!" Who cares if the crazy bastard goes off and drowns himself; WHAT about that eye-sore. How do you deal with people like these?

Or did I misunderstand this conversation?

08-15-2001, 11:49 AM
Greedy town councils and nosey neighbors perhaps vary according to one's zip code. Watching This Old House (Boston area) I'm often impressed/dismayed by the hurdles/bull**** they have to go over and through to fix up an old rat trap of a house. Neighbors and histerical societies seem to lord it over the most picky details http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/rolleyes.gif
I'd recomend first finding out what the rules are and then find a way to either circumvent them or hide from them. As things stand I wouldn't touch a house in a neighborhood with a committee of feudal overlord wannabes or wierd covenants. (I almost wrote covens. Probably should have http://media5.hypernet.com/~dick/ubb/biggrin.gif)

[This message has been edited by TomRobb (edited 08-15-2001).]