The case of the Local Boat

By “local boats”, I mean a boat or ship, built in a particular country, flying the flag of that country, and operated exclusively within the waters of that country. The most obvious examples are Turkish Gulets and Croatian luxury cruise “yachts”, but there are many other countries with extensive territorial waters where the local cruise industry flourishes.

Many of those vessels would be registered under a local code giving them extended possibilities for local trading, but effectively preventing them to enter foreign waters or ports. Most professional buyers or brokers are aware of the need to change the flag or the status of such vessels to operate them in other regions that the ones they were designed for.

Where it is important to be very careful is the case when a vessel has international certificates that appear to be giving her an internationally recognized status. Sometimes, exemptions will be documented within those certificates, but other “deficiencies” may have been ignored or accepted over time in the original flag system, without proper documentation.

The risk here is that the ship could not be flagged under another register without extensive work. Even after that, the ship could still face issues from Port State Control, ITF and other international bodies. Those issues can sometimes be handled, but sometimes, it is just not worth the hassle.

So, whenever a potential buyer considers a ship operated under a local flag: red alert! Get a competent surveyor in to perform a gap analysis towards the intended use by the new owners.