The safety requirements for a Certificate of Fitness (COF) or a Local General Safety Certificate (LGSC) are specified in the Merchant Shipping (National Small Vessel Safety) Regulations of 2007 as amended. Most of the safety requirements for pleasure vessels are detailed in Annexure 1 and 2 of these regulations.

Note that the regulations specify minimum requirements. For example, the regulations allow you to cross an ocean without:

A GPS or chartplotter or sextant to fix your position
A log to allow you to maintain workable DR
A depth sounder to warn you of an approaching coastline
An SSB radio or sat phone for mid ocean communication in a medical or other emergency
Jackstays and harnesses to allow crew to clip on when working on the foredeck at night or in bad weather

It is up to the skipper to decide what additional equipment is appropriate and affordable for any particular voyage. The World Sailing Offshore Special Regulations provide a useful reference.

To get a COF your vessel has to be listed with South African Sailing (SAS) and inspected by an SAS Safety Officer or a “SAMSA approved SAS appointed Safety Surveyor” (referred to as a SAS Safety Surveyor).

To get a LGSC your vessel has to be listed with SAS, registered by SAMSA and inspected by a SAS Safety Surveyor.

To book an inspection your first step is to pay SAS for the survey.

Once payment has been made you can arrange a survey with a Safety Officer or Safety Surveyor. If that is not convenient the SAS office can appoint one for you. You will need a proof of payment and your Certificate of Listing or a certified copy thereof.

You will also need to decide what category of COF you want for your boat. Then download the safety inspection check sheet. You need to complete the safety inspection check sheet before the safety survey.

It is the responsibility of the owner or his representative to prepare the vessel for the safety inspection. You need to complete and sign the safety inspection check sheet before the safety survey. The safety officer will refuse to the safety inspection until the check sheets have been completed.

COFs and LGSCs are only valid for one year from the date of the safety inspection.