I have a catamaran
which was registered in BVI. However the flag has now been changed to St Martin
(Dutch side) because of the costs and increased regulations
in the BVI.
Background: BVI as of about 2 years ago now has to meet all red flag (British) specifications for SCV (Small Commercial
Vessels). But there are 2 gotchas. 1) For a multihull
this includes stability testing (Even of production built), escape hatches
and many other modifications. and 2) *Any* commercial
activity will cause the boat to be classified as an SCV.....
So now the boat was reflagged St Martin
a while ago but still as a non commercial vessel. "Not for commercial use".
So I have a few questions...
First of all I want to be clear, I'm not trying to skirt any laws and I want to
make sure that I'm good by my insurance
as well. I want to do things right...
1) I'm in St Kitts
and have a small retail business. We often need to get stuff to Nevis
which is part of our country and just a few miles away. We also need to get stuff from Statia which is just a few miles away too (although not part of our country). If I go personally to buy stuff I would be ok, but what if I need to transport small items (its not heavy cargo, its small computer parts
, at most 200 lbs of stuff... thats less than the weight of my average crew member
).. Does that classify me as commercial if its for my business? Does it change if I'm not the captain
(not always available to go) and I pay someone to captain
I know the insurance
would not cover the cargo, thats fine. I can add coverage or just not worry about that. What I dont want is a situation where they say I'm violating the laws of the flag state and wouldn't cover the boat or other if something did happen.
2) The boat is certified to carry a certain number of people and we never go over that. But often we take a lot of friends and I want to relax and spend time with the kids
and dare I say want drink some beers we take a long a crew and sometimes even a captain to take my place... I pay them for their time. Is this commercial if the other passengers are contributing to the compensation to the captain?
3) Longer term we would like to do day charters just nearby with either myself, my son, or one of our regulars as a captain. This obviously is in the line of commercial. For St Kitts
we meet all the local maritime operating requirements, but especially with the new independent status of St Martin is anyone prepared to give a brief overview of whats involved for a St Martin flagged boat? I've tried making a few calls, but its seems with their new found independence not even they are fully sure who is what or what is what.... That might seem odd, but having seen what new govt dept are like in St Kitts where no one knows up from down I understand whats going on possibly over there...