“Früh übt sich, was ein Meister werden will” is probably one of the most famous quotes from Schiller’s drama about the Swiss national hero William Tell and should probably also apply to the intended change in the boat license regulation in Croatia. The Croatian government plans to allow rented boats up to a length of 5 meters and a maximum motorization of 5 kW (about 6.8 hp) to be used by people 18 years and older at a distance of up to 500 meters from the coast without a boating license.
Among the objectives of the measure is the intention to introduce people to motorized water sports gently and as inexpensively as possible. Since the new boat license regulation but at the same time also increases the attractiveness of Croatian tourist centers, one hopes of this in addition, of course, further tourist revenue from the nautical sector.
Survey boat license
This regulation is initially considered as a legislative proposal, on which a public hearing, similar to the usual hearing of associations in Germany, for example, has already been completed. However, only Croatian citizens who are registered in the Croatian e-Gradanin system, i.e. have a so-called “electronic passport”, could participate. Later, this new regulation, but with possible changes regarding the increase of the horsepower limit for small motorized boats should then be implemented in national Croatian law.
Neighboring countries more liberal!
Even though these measures represent a step in the right direction, this already does not go far enough for many water sports enthusiasts and those who want to become one, as other countries take a much more liberal approach to the issue of “boat licenses” with regard to possible entry-level motorization.
In Italy up to 40 hp without a boat license
First and foremost is Italy, one of the most important Adriatic riparian countries with which Croatia is vying for the favor of water sports enthusiasts. Basically, in Italy boats with an engine power of 40 hp can be operated without permit. The same rule applies to foreigners if the boat flies the Italian flag. In other words, a foreigner can rent a boat in Italy with an engine of up to 40 hp or 30kW without a permit and sail it up to 6 nautical miles from shore.
In Germany, up to 15 hp without a boating license
Germany also has a much more liberal regulation: both inland and at sea, motorboats up to 15 hp are license-free, and one may sail the waterways there without sport boat license up to three nautical miles from shore.
Only rented boats without a boating license
Main point of criticism of potential future boaters: with 6.8 hp, one is, especially with appropriate swell, quite underpowered on the road and the fun of water sports would not really arise. Also the fact that with the new regulation exclusively rented boats are to be used driver’s license-free, encounters incomprehension. Not least for this reason, it is proposed to exempt motorized recreational boats up to 15 hp from the driving license requirement.
Law text translated
Translated, the upstream discussion about mandatory driver’s license in Croatia: With this regulation, it is prescribed that a person who has completed 18 years of age without a permit (boat license) is allowed to drive at a maximum distance of 500 meters from the nearest shore a boat up to 5m in length and engine power up to 5kW, which is rented without a crew, as well as a boat with water jet propulsion (jet ski), which is equipped with an electronic system to limit the speed to, from and within the polygon defined by the concession or concession permit.
This regulation amends Article 34 to require the minimum content of the permit on the minimum number of crew members, that the certificate form is published on the website of the Ministry and that Appendix 1 with the certificate form is deleted accordingly.
Up to 500 meters from shore
And in case a close reading might misunderstand what was being discussed: Jet skis are to be allowed to sail in cordoned-off areas (polygon), said power-driven recreational boats freely in an area up to 500 meters from the nearest shore, as was assured after telephone consultation.
SeaHelp will continue to advocate, as it has in the past, for the liberalization of the laws regarding mandatory driving licenses in Croatia, so that no additional bureaucratic hurdles are imposed on all affected skippers and newcomers to motorized water sports. A similarity to the regulations in neighboring Italy would be quite desirable in order to really achieve the goals set, namely the sustainable further promotion of nautical tourism in Croatia.