Any boat used for commercial chartering will need to have been coded by the owner. Coding certification is a measure enforced by the MCA (Marine Coastguard Agency), to ensure that any boats used commercially are safe to take afloat, and meet legal requirements.

A yacht charter or boat hire will have a ‘Category’ from 0-6, which tells you where and when you can take the vessel, and with how many people on board.

Coding certification will vary depending on what you want to use your boat for. Below are the seven possible categories:

  • Category 6:To sea, within 3 miles from a nominated departure point(s) named in the certificate and never more than 3 miles from land, in favourable weather and
    daylight.
  • Category 5: To Sea, within 20 miles from a nominated departure point named in the certificate in favourable weather and daylight.
  • Category 4: Up to 20 miles from a safe haven, in favourable weather and in daylight.
  • Category 3: Up to 20 miles from a safe haven. (Night equipment necessary)
  • Category 2: Up to 60 miles from a safe haven.
  • Category 1: Up to 150 miles from a safe haven.
  • Category 0: Unrestricted

Category 0 obviously provides your boat with the highest cover, but with this comes additional costs and responsibilities for providing the very highest level safety equipment. You may want to think about what you use your boat for and which category is consequently most suitable.

A ‘safe haven’ is defined as somewhere you can safely tie up and make repairs.

Using the terminology around coding, people will say “This boat is Cat (3) coded” or “I need to charter a Cat 2 cruising yacht”. This means everyone can be on the same page about what the boat is safely capable of.

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