Sailboat, motor boat, boat without license without training, boat without license with training ... How does one decide in the French legislation? This is what the seaZen Academy, a French Riviera boat-club, leader in solar powered boating, proposes you to discover in this review.
The maritime regulations impose the motor boat license for all vessels beyond a certain engine power. According to the public service website (service public):
"A motor boat license is required to operate a yacht with a power of more than 4.5 kilowatts (6 horsepower), whether on sea or on river"
Yet sailboats can be maneuvered without a license and they have engines sometimes higher than 4.5 kW?
Indeed, the sailboats are a particular kind of yachts. The legislator considers that skipping a sailboat is so complex that the skipper feels responsible to get trained. The definition of sailboat is itself regulated. Attention, a motor boat to which a small sail is added will never be a sailboat. The legislator has foreseen everything. In fact the key factor is the ratio between the engine power and the sailing power. To make it simple, lets say, a sailboat is a boat that moves better overall if it uses its sails and moves less well if it uses its engine... otherwise it is a motor boat!
The boat license is necessary for motor boating in France
A boat license or a boat permit is therefore necessary when sailing on a motor boat of more than 4.5 kW. This applies of course for any kind of motor boats, even for jet skis. The training to the boat license is itself regulated, it must be held in a school agreed for such training.
Which motor boat school to choose?
If you stay in Beaulieu-sur-Mer we like the Maritime Agency (Agence Maritime). Beyond Beaulieu, we recommend you to consult the selection of school of license boat of Sport Découverte. Generally, if you want to pass your license in the best conditions, we recommend to spend 2 weeks. First of all, you have to "digest" the theory and also practice a little before you take the test, and then you have to count the lead-time for enrollment!
A sailing boat can be operated license free in France
We have seen previously that sailing is a special case in France. It is simple common sense that makes training necessary. It is obvious than steering a sailboat is more complex and more time consuming than steering a motor boating. Generally sailing courses are provided by Yacht Clubs or Club Nautic in French, under the quality label of the French Sailing Federation Fédération Française de Voile.
Which sailing boat school to choose?
If you stay in Beaulieu-sur-Mer we recommend the Yacht Club de Beaulieu. Otherwise you may find your nearest club with the keywords "Club Nautic".
The boats called license free boats are motor boats with power less than 4.5 kW (or 6 horsepower). They are more often hired than owned by skippers. With the arrival of electric batteries and solar powers, these boats benefit from better energy efficiency. If they have a better energy efficiency they are therefore larger, more comfortable, increasing the number of passengers. The better the efficiency will be, the better the comfort. It has therefore become necessary to distinguish these new categories of boats without a license.
A traditionnel license free boat (smaller for a 6 HP engine max)
The traditional licence free boat can be maneuvered extremely easily. A training of a few minutes is enough. Generally when we talk about boating at sea without a license, we think about such boat.
This might be a next evolution of the license free boat, bigger, more comfortable they may gradually replace the existing fleet of license free boats.
A traditional license free boat side by side with 2 electric license free boats
Thanks to its electric propulsion, it does not emit CO2, which is a noticeable progress in terms of the environment. In addition electric propulsion has a much better performance than propulsion engine. So that it is possible to have a power engine two times less with the benefit of an equivalent thrust at the propellers. Sometimes it is equipped with photovoltaic panels which allows to shelter the driver of the sun. Attention this does not means the boat is propelled with solar energy. Remember to inquire about energy solution in case of empty batteries offshore at sea. In order to avoid any confusion we rather suggest to use the word electric licence free boat which is already much better for the environment.
The solar powered catamaran is part of the line of motor yacht-catamarans. Sailing on a traditional 40 feet motor yacht catamaran means having a skippers with a boat license. For day boating you don't need such a large catamaran. As long as you have an engine below 4.5 kW, it becomes a licence free boat as well. More than a boat without a license, the catamaran represents above all a line of boat very popular for the quality of the comfort it offers on board. Its energy efficiency is extreme because not only it can have electric engines so it has a yield twice as much as fossil engines. But in addition the hydrodynamics of the catamaran with its 2 floats moves hardly any water, so it has very low need of engine power.
A solar catamaran is the biggest licence free boat
The high stability of its floats allows to support a large solar roof with an important photovoltaic power capacity. As a result, it becomes fully autonomous with solar energy, and still license free when it remains below 4.5 kW. Solar navigation is a new form of boating. We find many similarities with sailing: the silence, the absence of odors, and the proximity with the marine elements. The speed of navigation is comparable to sailing, but it remains closer to a motorboat for maneuvers and stability.
Thanks to its solar autonomy, it can go around the world ... as long as it is daylight! And it is the biggest license free boat. Without having to spend so much of you time for a motorboat license or sailing training, it becomes possible to drive it alone after a quick and easy practice.
Boating at sea requires anyway a minimum training. The bigger a boat is, the more time it takes to learn. Moreover, sailing on a solar boat means not having the same sensations as for using a licensed motorboat users. Gliding slower on waves does not react in the same way. The solar boat reacts more with the sensations of the sailing boat. At the port the propellers have thrust from 100 W engine power. Not to mention the learning of energy management...
The skipper must choose the licence free boat according to comfort aboard and time he is ready to spend in training.
To be able to navigate as easily as possible, it is possible to split the training into experience levels according to the degree of autonomy sought. The higher you get experience the farther you may sail as a skipper. At seaZen we created a Solar boating Academy. This academy offers a 4-level solar sailing training program that allows to skip alone right after one hour of practice. Then it requires a higher level to sail by night or to sail further.
The Nice Côte d'Azur metropolis innovates in Beaulieu-sur-Mer. Indeed its marina offers the 3 types of boats rentals without license listed in this article. SeaZen, author of this article, proposes the solar-powered catamaran type, an innovative concept whose service is labelled Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor and awarded Tourism-INNOV by the Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur land.