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Σκάφη και Γιοτ

What differentiates a ‘boat from a yacht’ or a ‘skipper from a captain’?

How the fascination began

With over 15 years of insuring sea crafts such as boats and yachts, there have always been some aspects of this business which have truly fascinated me.

You may have noticed me using the term ‘sea crafts’ above, which leads to the first point of fascination. There is no clear definition of what constitutes a boat, a yacht, a superyacht and a ship!

You learn to distinguish the difference by experience. If you ask five marine professionals to name the difference and I can almost guarantee you will receive 5 very different explanations and opinions.

This is very similar to a school exercise our teacher once gave us. She asked each one of us to draw a boat. When we presented our individual drawings there were fishing boats, small boats, yachts, ships … there was even a pirate ship (yes really). The outcome, as she explained, was that we were all correct as she did not provide any specific details of the boat she wanted us to draw. Her point was to highlight the need to provide precise instructions when we ask for something. However, what stuck in my mind was that each person’s perception of a boat was very much different to that of the person sitting next to him.

So what’s the difference?

So, what is the difference between a boat, a yacht, as super yacht and a ship?

In my mind, a boat is a craft up to 12 metres and does not necessarily need to be associated with luxury. Navigation is limited to local waters.

A yacht is between 12 to 25 metres used for recreational purposes and should be accompanied with an element of luxury. Navigation is limited to seas.

A super yacht starts at 25 metres has no limit, should most definitely be luxurious, usually has a professional crew and is for recreational purpose. Can navigate across oceans.

A ship is a large vessel used for commercial purposes.

The second point of fascination is again the lack of any clear definition between a ‘Skipper’ and a ‘Captain’, which obviously has been itching at my OCD which quite annoyingly requires things to be clearly defined and categorized.

Both a Skipper and a Captain perform the same role. They are both in command of the craft and are responsible for the safety of that craft and the crew.

A friend of mine once mentioned ‘Skipper is so much more fun to say’ but surely that cannot be what defines the difference between the two.

I would define a Captain as the person in command of large sized ship, being merchant ships with crew or the permanently named Captain of the larger super yachts with permanent crew. A Skipper is an informal reference to Captain on smaller crafts such as boats, yachts, tugs, fishing boats etc.

Fortunately, there is a uniform approach when it comes to sea craft insurance, whether it is a boat with a skipper or a ship with a captain.


The insurance aspect

All sea crafts typically require two main policies:

  1. Hull & Machinery
  2. Third-Party Liability (TPL) / Protection and Indemnity (P&I)

Although neither of the above are compulsory by law, almost all ports and marinas around the world will not allow entry without evidence of TPL/P&I insurance. This is understandable as Ports/Marinas need to ensure that any damage or liability by caused by crafts using their facilities would be economically covered. An example of a damage claim could be the boat hitting and damaging the berth and an example of a liability claim could be pollution caused by the leak/spill of fuel.

Apart from the two mainstream policies an owner may consider purchasing additional coverage such as Yacht Personal Accident, Crew Personal Accident, Crew Medical, Legal Expenses etc.

Let’s get in touch

The GAP Vassilopoulos Group acts as Brokers through their well-established relationships with international ‘A’ Rated insurers’ as well as the local Cyprus market can cater for a wide range of Yacht/Boat risks and for all types of crafts no matter how small or large.

Drop us an email through our website or feel free to contact us at 77 77 77 75 to compare and select the most appropriate yacht insurance policy. The GAP Insurance Agency team will discuss further information with you.

George Karapateas (BA Insurance, FCII)

Insurance General Manager – GAP Insurance Agency

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