Those of you who have a commercial yacht over 24 m load line length, and who have this year applied for a cruising permit for the Balearic Islands, will be aware that it is now a requirement by the Balearic authorities to have a valid Port State Control Inspection (PSCI) Report. Without this, you will not be issued the requisite permit. The PSCI requirement should not be seen as something unique to the Balearics however, it is in fact an international requirement.

Historically, yachts have not been high up on Port State Control´s list of priorities, and they have been able to sail under Port State Control’s radar relatively unnoticed. However this all changed in January 2011, when a new inspection regime called “The Hybrid European Targeting and Inspection System” or “THETIS”, was brought into force under the Paris Memorandum of Understanding. This new regime has brought commercial yachts within Port State Control’s sights.

When broaching the subject of PSCI’s with commercial yacht owners and Captains, we sense some trepidation on their part. However, these inspections are required to be carried out in a professional manner so as to create the least inconvenience to the vessel and its crew. We understand that commercial yachts are required to be surveyed by their classification societies and flag states, however over the years the flag states have gradually started relying more and more on the classification societies to regulate and control the standards laid down by the International Maritime Organisation. PSCIs take place in order to ensure that the flag states and classification societies do not fail to meet their required commitments. Sometimes the control mechanisms applied by the flag states and classification societies fall short of the mark, and, unfortunately there are still a number of sub-standard vessels sailing our seas, making it necessary to bring in measures such as Port State Control.

Having a PSCI should, rather than being seen as an obstacle, be considered to be another arrow in a yacht owner´s quiver – having received a favourable PSCI report, passengers or potential passengers can climb aboard content in the knowledge that all safety issues have been attended to; that the safety equipment has been properly maintained; and that the crew, in whose hands they will be for the length of the charter, are competent and efficient to carry out their responsibilities. One wouldn’t want to board an aeroplane, for example, knowing that there were no rules and regulations governing the airline’s safety or the airline pilot’s competence in flying the craft. The same is true for passengers chartering yachts. People’s lives are at stake and any policy, regulation or law that contributes to the safety of property and people, should be welcomed with open arms.

So, how can we help? As our client, and when you instruct us to apply for a Balearic Cruising Permit, we investigate whether your vessel is eligible for a Port State Control Inspection. Should this be the case (i.e. you are a Priority 1 vessel who has never been inspected previously, or your PSCI report is older than one year), we notify you accordingly so that you are aware that when you visit Palma, you may be required to be inspected. Forewarned is forearmed, and by timeously advising you of your Port Control Status, you are able to adequately prepare for your visit to Palma. We have as yet only received positive feedback about the PSC Inspectors in Palma from those clients who have had to undergo an inspection, and understand that they are friendly and efficient. Having been inspected and on obtaining your Balearic Cruising Permit, you will be good to go and we have no doubt that you will have a fantastic time chartering and cruising with confidence in the Balearics!

Should you require further information regarding ins and outs of the Paris Memorandum of Understanding, please visit the following website: www.parismou.org

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