A Short History
Originally pleasure crafts were ruled exclusively by the Navigation Code (art. 213-218), applied to pleasure boats requirements and crew along with the faculty of construction allowed to members of sailing associations and the possibility of exercising no profit fishing with pleasure boats. In this way the legislator at that time recognized the importance of this type of navigation and contextually defined lighter and more agile regulations, identifying some exceptions regarding compliance with the Code.
In the early 70's the "Regulations on yachting" (Law n. 50 dated 11th February 1971) was issued; it recognized the particularity of the sector and established its own specific regulations, consisting of a real set of rules. Since then, the pleasure crafts were considered "special navigation", with leisure and recreational purposes, different from the general rules dictated by the Navigation Code.
The law n. 172 dated 8th July 2003 included "Provisions for the reorganization and revitalization of yachting and nautical tourism": it innovated the previous legislation giving a push to the development of nautical tourism in Italy, starting the reform process of yachting.
Specialties of the discipline of pleasure craft
Legislative Decree n. 171 dated 18th July 2005 ("Pleasure Craft Code") and Ministerial Decree n. 146/2008 represent the main source of discipline on this matter; for the not expressly prescribed cases, it will be applied laws, regulations and practices of reference; for uncovered cases the provisions of the Navigation Code will be applied.
Types of vessels
The vessels' distinction (art. 3 of the pleasure craft code) is based on the length of the vessels:
pleasure boats, up to 10 meters;
pleasure vessels, more than 10 and up to 24 meters;
pleasure ships, over 24 meters.
The pleasure boating can take place for sport and leisure or no-profit purposes (pleasure yachting); it can be done even for commercial purposes, and in this case the vessel is used in:
leasing or renting contracts (commercial yacht);
professional pleasure craft training;
support to diving centers (so-called diving).
To the above categories can be added also the "Ships operating in international navigation and rented for tourist purpose only" (so-called "Super Yacht").
Duties of the Coast Guard in relation to pleasure crafting
The Coast Guard, along with the pre-eminent authority on navigation safety controls (art. 9 of Law n. 172/2003), has important administrative functions, mainly on:
naval ownership: registers are conserved by Harbour Masters Offices where the vessels are registered;
issuing of navigation license and safety certificate (a boarding document attesting the navigable condition of boats and pleasure crafts);
recognition and issue of maritime professional titles for pleasure crafts;
issuing of marine licenses and maintenance of the related registers;
supervision over the activities of sailing schools.
Finally, the Corps delivers administrative and judicial police functions on the pleasure craft sector also, in order to discourage any conduct applicable to it (board documents,
fishing, lack of safety equipment, respect of the distance from the coast, etc..).