Boating News

This Boating News page is a new platform dedicated to focus primarily on SAMSA activities related specifically to boating in South Africa.

These will include boating production and utilisation, law and regulations, education and skills development, as well as notices on workshops conducted by SAMSA countrywide on these and related matters.


01 December 2021

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) commitment to gradually spread exponentially the conducting of training workshops on small vessels’ safety awareness and surveys training to all parts of the country is gathering momentum, according to the agency’s Center for Boating Manager, Ms Debbie James.

She was speaking earlier on Tuesday (30 November) during the start of another small vessels training workshop, this time in Pretoria, involving local surveyors, members of the South African Police Services (SAPS), the East Rand Boat Club and others, in terms of the Merchant Shipping (National Small Vessels Safety) Regulations 2007, that constitutes a critical aspect of the National Inland Waters Strategy launched by the Department of Transport in October.

The workshops started with the members of the SAPS’s water wing and border control units, with focus on enforcement of the national regulations. During the next three days the workshops focus would be with SAMSA internal surveyors and the South African Deep Sea Angling Association (SADSAA) regarding built-in buoyancy and Pontoon vessel training.

In the video below (1m50s), she expands:

Meanwhile, this past month SAMSA trainee Marine Officers, Esethu  Hlokoza, Khanyisile Mthethwa and Taro Lombard continued with getting to grips with their boat surveys training – along with a happy collection of certificates in respective categories of their extensive two-year training programme for which they write exams periodically.

Editorial Comment: After spending time at SAMSA’s Western Region on the Atlantic Ocean coastline since the start of the training, SAMSA’s three Marine Officer trainees moved on, spreading their wings to SAMSA Eastern Region (Durban and surroundings) at the beginning of November, meeting other SAMSA Operations officials as well as stakeholders and, in the process; taking in as much info as they could be exposed to. In their monthly report below, they reflect on these training travels inclusive of a five (5) day stopover at the Breede River on 22-26 November for Practical Training & Concentrated Inspection on Pontoon Vessels, prior to proceeding to Pretoria (SAMSA’s Northern Region) late in the month. In their own words, this is their report (Durban and Breede River)!


Visit to South African Sailing

Surveying commercial and pleasure vessels contributes towards SAMSA’s mission to forever improve safety within the maritime industry.

To cope with the vast amount of pleasure vessel surveys, SAMSA delegates authority to external surveyors under authorised agencies. South African Sailing (SA Sailing) is an authorised agency that has the authority to inspect and certify pleasure vessels under 100 gross tons from various affiliated clubs.

We visited Durban Marina where Mr Gavin van der Meulen, chairperson of the Inland and Offshore Committee of SA Sailing introduced us to the surveying procedure for rigging on a Sailing Boat. It was a great opportunity for us to be exposed to this type of survey, as it is mostly done by the authorised agencies.

We covered the different types of rigging setups, materials of which the deck fittings and stays (wires used to secure the mast to the deck) are made of and their means of failure.

With Gavin’s knowledge and the practical exposure to sailing vessels, their rigging setup and operation, it’s going to be much easier to identify faults and know what to look out for when conducting such a survey.

SAMSA Occupational Health and Safety

2nd of November: We attended a course in Durban headed by Sbusiso Rantsoabe from the SAMSA Durban Office who is an Occupational Health and safety representative. We got to understand what they deal with which includes but not limited to safety related issues, working with seafarers mission to ensure the welfare of seafarers and auditing of stevedoring, packing companies as well. We then visited different organizations they work with to see what they do and that included SACD which deals with packing and securing of cargo within containers.

We also visited DORMAC where we were given a safety briefing by the chief safety officer. Here we then visited the dry-dock to see how safety officers ensure the work is carried out safely during repairs.

3rd of November: We visited BPO (Bidfreight Port Operations) – one of the largest providers of in-port logistics in South Africa with operations in every commercial cargo port. Their areas of expertise include warehousing, stevedoring, transportation and terminal operating services and, they also deal with importing and exporting of any commodity or products in South Africa.

A visit to the Mission to Seafarers

The Durban mission to seafarers assists with all local matters pertaining to seafarers’ welfare. Besides visiting ships, the mission is affiliated with other international organizations that all work together to ensure that the wellbeing of South African and international seafarers that come into our waters are looked after. The mission also offers an opportunity to communicate with loved ones as well as rest and relaxation whilst in port. The Mission to Seafarers ensures the spiritual and physical wellbeing of seafarers is taken care of.



Worcester Boat Shop

MONDAY – 22 November 2021
We started off by visiting the Worcester boat shop where the owner took us through all the boats that he was working on. It was very insightful as there were various boat types ranging from speed boats to reinforced ribs and various sports and recreational vessels.
The owner showed us various flotation problems that vessels experience and how they are repaired, as well as various engine failures and defects, and how to spot early tell-tale signs of such failures.
Also, the various safety aspects surrounding water sport, i.e. tubing, skiing and wakeboarding, were explained and how each operation is carried out on inland waterways.
Similarly, the importance of a vessel moving on and off a trailer was also explained as a large majority of boats get
damaged due to trailers not being of suitable size and design which results in inadequate support. Various safety pamphlets was given to the boat shop which he in turn will distribute to vessel owners to spread safety awareness

Worcester – De Breede Otter

The team then proceeded to the De Breede River Otter, a passenger pontoon vessel situated at the Breede river headwaters. As indicated by the pictures (Right), this vessel is constructed from various 500-litre Jo-Jo water tanks, filled with expanded foam. The team proceeded to inspect the vessel and noted all the defects and exemptions that the vessel had. Having completed the pontoon boat course, the benefits were quite evident without them being aware of the vessel history. They were also part of a practical heeling demonstration that would be carried out on such a vessel to achieve the required stability information, which was quite beneficial.

Ad hoc – Arc Commercial operation (DTPN 0-56)

While we were busy surveying the De Breede Otter, we came across a commercial river rafting operation, which landed ashore nearby. The team then performed an ad hoc inspection on Gravity Adventures which revealed compliance with the National Small Vessels Safety Regulations.

Robertson – Nerina Guest Farm

TUESDAY – 23 November 2021
The team started the day at Nerina Guest Farm. We started with Carina se Kolganskuiken, (DTC8338R), which is going to be taken out of service. The team then proceeded with Ben se Kolganskuiken, (DTC8337R), located in the river.
Her pontoon consists of various blue plastic oil drums filled with expanded foam. The team found the vessel to be in a satisfactory condition, with minor defects. The last vessel to be inspected was Kolgans, a large wrapped fiberglass pontoon passenger vessel, upon which minor defects were found.

During our visit at Nerina Guest Farm, we were informed of a possible illegal commercial vessel. This was later inspected, and the team found the vessel to be non-compliant with the NSVS regulations. The local SAMSA office commited to further engagement with the owner to ensure compliance.

Bonnievale – Breede River Goose

After finishing up in Robertson, the team surveyed Breede River Goose, (DTC8335R), located in Bonnievale.

Her pontoon was made out of fibreglass filled with expansion foam, in a very good condition. She is predominantly made out of wood and is quite well maintained with 20 years of operation.

We then decided to do an Ad hoc inspection on another vessel, Uncle Ben II, prior to the planned inspection the following day. The aim was to see her in operation as compared to owners preparing the vessel on the day of the survey.

Swellendam Boat Shop

In Swellendam the team visited the Swellendam Boat Shop, where various safety pamphlets was given to the boat shop which in turn willdistribute to vessel owners and spreading safety awareness.

The owner then took us through to the workshop and showed us the various vessels they were working on as well as a new Yamaha engine that they were fitting with a self-docking system – a first of its kind in the country.

From here, the owner then took the team to the Falcon Inflatable factory, based in Swellendam. The team was exposed to the construction and manufacturing process of these vessels, which was very informative to us all, as the whole process was laid out from start to finish with examples of moulds, materials and construction methods.

Swellendam – Stonehill River Lodge

We then proceeded to Stonehill River Lodge where Arc Inflatable rafts were inspected. There were 10 rafts in total with minor defects that were identified and rectified on the day of inspection. The tour guide then proceeded to explain the total operation and all safety measures that would be taken during a routine tour.

Sanbona Wildlife Reserve

We then proceeded to Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, where the team surveyed the Peregrine (DTP2034R) an aluminium hull passenger vessel. The vessel had a leaking fuel line, which required immediate attention. However, all other safety aspects were found to be satisfactory.

THURSDAY – 25 November 2021

The team returned to Uncle Ben II, for the planned survey. On the occasion, weld cracks were found all along the safety railing and steps leading up to the upper platform. Although the bilge pump was operational, the hose was found to be loosely connected, which would have resulted in the bilge pump being ineffective.

Friday – 26 November 2021

The team then followed up on a complaint that was made by Silver strand Caravan Park about alleged illegal operations and violations being committed by boat operators from the adjoining golf club and estate. The use of large master craft vessels was also reported to e causing serious damage to the riverbank and slipway. The boating manager will provide support with the proper channels to follow with local municipalities and authorities to work towards a solution for all parties, as well as taking safety and environmental requirements into account.



Pretoria: 05 November 2021

SAMSA trainee Marine Officers getting their grips on boat surveys. A report from the ground, by Esethu  Hlokoza, Khanyisile Mthethwa and Taro Lombard

(Two weeks ago, this blog introduced to its readers a group of three young seafarers at the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) currently undergoing training as Marine Officers over a two year period. The programme launched by SAMSA this year identifies and seeks to groom young talented South Africa seafarers below CoC Unlimited (Master Mariner) level through broad exposure in its onshore activities related to particularl small vessels safety in order to broaden their understanding as well as maritime technical skills. In a brief online video chat, the three trainee Marine Officers – Mr Tora Lombard of Cape Town (Western Cape), Mr Esethu Hlokoza of Libode (Eastern Cape) and Ms Khanyisiwe Mthethwa of Durban (KwaZulu-Natal) outlined both their seafaring experience to date, their interest and expectations of the Marine Officer Development Programme as well as their oulook on maritime technical skills broadly.

To listen to that brief video chat, click on the video.

However notably, during that brief chat the trainee MOs also undertook to share regularly with this blog their experiences of their training along with insights gained. Below, is their second report.

October has been another good month with exposure to various aspects of working for the South African Maritime Safety Authority, from new builds to maritime search and rescue.

SAMSA Trainee Marine Officers. October 2021

New Build of a Passenger Catamaran

A new build process of a vessel can be a very long and tedious one. However it has a lot to offer in terms of knowledge on the design and building process of a new vessel and how it ties in with SAMSA.

The month of October gave us this opportunity on a passenger catamaran. We were given a good oversight on these processes and how the design is to tie in with the regulations set out. Passenger vessels have very strict building requirements that must be adhered to, to ensure the safety of life at sea.

Communication between the stakeholders involved in the new build process and SAMSA plays quite a big role in its success, with as little delays a possible

Material Design

When surveying a vessel, it is beneficial to be aware of the design characteristics of certain materials. We have visited various engineering workshops involved with the service and repair of marine propellers, shafts and rudders.

These workshops have a lot of years of experience and knowledge to share with us. Here we have been exposed to the various material types, how to identify them and how the characteristics of these materials tie in with their use on a ship.

As a surveyor, it would be good to share our exposure and what we have learned with the various stakeholders while out on survey, to give them an understanding as to why it is important to have regular inspections carried out and why having the correct materials in place is so beneficial.

Auditing of External Surveyors

SAMSA has external surveyors that directly report to them. They help SAMSA in its mandate of ensuring safety of life at sea, the environment whilst ensuring that the boats comply with local general safety regulations for safe operations.

These external surveyors cover all waterways that SAMSA otherwise cannot get easy access to and they are appointed by the Principal officer of that region and report directly to him/ her.

These external surveyors must be audited by the principal officer (PO) for that region of operation. We have had an opportunity to experience this process with PO Antoinette Keller during an audit carried out in Strand at one of our external surveys.

The process went seamlessly as there was a positive interaction between the external surveyor and the auditor.

Maritime Rescue Coordination Center (MRCC)

SAMSA’s three Marine Officer trainees; (Front, from Left Mr Esethu Hlokoza, Mr Taro Lombard and Ms Khanyisiwe Mthethwa with MRCC officials

During the 2nd week of October, we attended an introductory course on Search & Rescue at SAMSA’s Sea Watch & Rescue Centre incorporating the Maritime Rescue Coordinating Centre (MRCC) located in Cape Town. The MRCC is fully functional and operates 24/7 with the focus primarily on the safety of life and property at sea and which essentially involves the monitoring and constant evaluation of maritime safety information.

We got to learn what processes are followed once there is an incident at sea ranging from emergency evacuation to distress at sea, and how vessels are utilized to assist in emergencies especially pertaining to life safety. We got to also understand the relationship between Cape Town Radio and MRCC in terms of sharing information to facilitate assistance to vessels at sea

Marine Officers’ Training In Perspective

The SAMSA Marine Officer trainees are undergoing a maritime technical skills development schedule encompassing among others; theoretical and practical training in a wide range of areas inclusive of small vessel safety and surveying. For a broader and richer experience, led by senior and experienced SAMSA officers, among them lead trainer, Captain Jonathan Hartzenberg, this will entail their rotational periodic travel across the country to experience work with different sized and varied use vessels at all the country’s major ports and in some cases, small harbours as well as inland water spaces where boating activity takes place.

In the video below Capt. Hartzenberg and SAMSA Centre for Boating Manager, Ms Debbie James explain both the nature of the development programme as will its goals and objectives:


South Africa’s launch of its Internal Waters Strategy in October 22, a watershed moment towards effective and efficient management of the country’s inland waters, inclusive of dams as well as rivers.

South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA)

The launch of South Africa’s Internal Water Strategy by the Department of Transport (DoT) along with the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) on Friday, 22 October 2021 at the Lake Deneys Yacht Club marked a critical turning point in terms of efforts to manage effectively and efficiently the use of the country’s internal water spaces, comprising mainly rivers and dams for boating related activities.

That is according to SAMSA’s Centre for Boating Manager, Ms Debbie James, who along with senior officials of the agency inclusive of the Acting CEO, Ms Tsepiso Taoana-Mashiloane and Deputy Chief Operations Officer, Captain Vernon Keller; attended the event on the banks of the Vaal Dam.

Of particular interest and significance to SAMSA about the IWS is the formalisation of a legal framework for cooperative governance with various other authoritative structures in both government, the private sector and civil society in terms of collective action in efforts to improve conditions of inland water spaces use by the public.

For SAMSA, according to Ms James, is the need for expansive implementation of the boating regulations provided for in the IWS- linked Merchant Shipping (National Small Vessel Safety) Regulations 2007. In the video below, she outlines SAMSA’s perspective on the matter:

In the video below, Capt. Vernon Keller also weighed in briefly about the signiticance of the event in terms of boating and people ‘s safety on South Africa’s inland waters.