The dangerous boat certificate BSS

Published Date 9/26/13 11:58 AM

Am making a documentary about moving off the traditional grid and alternative lifestyles in the face of climate change. This is a brief story about how bureaucratic processes can make the world more dangerous rather than, as some people imagine, more safe.

I have bought a very solid, German built, lifeboat fresh off a north sea oil-rig to convert to a live aboard video production studio. The boat had been installed on the rig for 12 years, and has just being started up and tested for safety every 6 months. The north sea oil safety certification is one of the highest standards in the world for boat safety and the boat has passed this. The boat is built throughout like a tank and every component is top of its class.

I bought the boat and 3 months later I put it into the British canal and river network. For this I have to get a licence, insurance and a boat safety certificate (BSS). The first stage is the BSS this is a basic test of mechanical safety of the boat fuel, electrics, and fire safety, it is obviously much less rigorous than that needed for a boat operating in the North Sea, The tickbox safety test is designed for British boats yet the lifeboat has high standard sea going components source from Germany and Scandinavia which do not tick these simplistic boxes.

The boat failed the basic BSS because it has fuel hoses that are not marked with the appropriate British ISO standard. These are the original high quality hoses with brass screw on connectors, they have passed 12 years of safety checks for boat operating in the north sea but fail the tick box of the BSS. It seems that I have to now replace these excellent German made hoses, with cheap Chinese fuel hoses bought off Ebay, the the screw on brass connectors have to be hacksawed off and replaced with cheap strap on jubilee clips. This tick box “bureaucracy” will make the boat less safe and durable, not more so, hence the BSS becomes the “Dangerous boat certificate”.

I hope to get some common sense from the BSS engineer to resolve this before I start hacking at the boat. If this doesn’t happen it will make a entertaining and DAMNING indictment of the BSS process in the finished 1 hour documentary “The man who bought a lifeboat” out in 2015.

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