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BSS Examination

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Thinking ahead, my Boat's BSS cert, expires at the end of March, when the boat will be four years old.

From what I've read, it would seem that most BSS examiners are private individuals, who set themselves up as examiners, probably as a second (part time) job. With, of course, the relevant qualification.

Also, from what I've heard, the requirements are open to individual examiner's interpretation. In this respect, I've heard of cases where a boat tested and passed by one examiner, has failed when tested by another examiner four years later, on an item that was present at the previous examination, has remained unchanged, along with the regulations relating to it. Thus, alterations were imposed, and the examiner paid for a return visit.

I don't like to think this, but it occurs to me, that the system is open to abuse, and 'sharp practice'.

I suppose, assuming he is still in business, I could call on the services of the examiner, who examined the boat in March 2006, before it left Viking's factory.

A a 'ball park' figure, what should I be expecting to pay for the examination. The boat has gas cooking and water heating, shore power, outboard engine with inboard fuel tank. All factory fitted.


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I paid about £80 last April - can't remember the exact figure. Ian Jennings - 07828 100418. Very fair , very reasonable in his interpretation.

Is there a standard yet for mains 'shore power' installations ? The last I heard, it was still being considered. Rather surprising, as I would consider that the potential for risk is hugely greater with 240 v than 12 v, especially with water around :o

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The examiner that Poppy's mentioned, Ian Jennings, has got an interesting website at http://boatsafety-examiner.co.uk/default.aspx , and it looks like he's sitting on a Viking too !

There's another local examiner's website at http://www.insightmarinesurveyors.co.uk ... fetyscheme , with loads of free information about the test and other boat maladies (osmosis etc. !) :shocked

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I really can not recommend highly enough a BSS examiner called Tim Waters. He completed the BSS on my boat, arranged via Jason Hatch at Ludham Bridge services. My boat is 35ft by 12ft beam and the test took a good couple of hours. The cost was £125, not sure but this might have been cheaper if I had gone direct, but I didn't have the contact at the time, and Jason was very helpful. It still seemed reasonable to me. I expected it to fail on some gas work and it did. For one reason or another the cooker took longer to replace than I expected. I contacted Tim some three months after the initial test to come back and do the retest, which he did. The icing on the cake, no charge for a retest even after three months. He even met me at Reedham to do the retest. That's what I call service. I did of course give Tim a drink, and will use him in four years time and can not rate him highly enough. He also put me in touch with an excellent marine engineer who is also gas safe registered.

Knowing where you are moored, don't forget that you will need to arrange to meet contractors off site, or have them pay a percentage for the privilege of working on your boat. You are also highly unlikely to get it done cheaper using the marina's guys, although if you did choose that route, I'm sure it would be a good job.

BSS Examiner Tim Waters 07810458021

Marine Engineer John Spruce 07768072004

John quoted me a fixed price for replacing a cooker, regulator, tails and certifying and testing the whole gas system, not an estimate. The price I paid was the price he quoted me, and very pleased with the work as well. An excellent first class job for a fixed price.


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Sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings Dave but the BSS on the boat we boat earlier this year was carried out by an examiner already mentioned on this thread. Our surveyor, when doing his pre-purchase survey, drove a bus, and not a mini-bus, through things he had missed which should have been failures. Although she will not require another BSS until 2012 I have decided to put right all the surveyors recommendations in respect to the BSS in the next 12 months. Amongst the paperwork I was given on completing the purchase was a certificate of conformity issued by the Broads Authority. Unfortunately the BSS certificate was not included. Knowing that the Broads Authority had obviously been sent a copy of the certificate (or they would not have issued the CofC) I wrote the Broads Authority requesting a copy of said document so I could determine who had performed the BSS examination and I now have that information and, like I said, his name his mentioned further up this thread.

Now, if that was not enough fun, another of the examiners mentioned in this thread did the BSS on our last boat, Silver Dream, shortly after we bought her in 2006. He found a number of things on which she failed, which I then rectified and he signed her off. But not 6 months later when she was enjoying a short stay at Freshwater Cruisers in Brundall several things were pointed out to me by Will and Tony that, according to them, should have caused her to fail and evidently our examiner had missed. A few months later when she was on hard standing at HMS in Brundall John of HMS pointed out a few more things that should also have failed. In fact there's even more to this than that, but I am at the limits of what I am prepared to say publicly.

Suffice to say I am convinced the whole thing is an absolute lottery.

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I agree with Keith about Tim Waters.

I have had a few boats tested ( I was in attendance for the boat owners at the time as they could not attent themselves ) with Tim and found hime more than helpfull .

He does not charge for a retest.

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"the whole thing is an absolute lottery." - Plesbit said.

Having now had an initial BSS and also a subsequent 4 (5 !) year renewal on my boat, I think you're right. :roll:

The initial test was done to the original BSS standards imposed by the Broads Authority before it become mandatory, and before many aspects become "advisory" rather than rigid requirements.

I consider myelf to be reasonably competant with DIY, having rewired and replumbed most of the houses I've lived in, and always carried out all of the maintenance on my boats, cars & motorbikes, (including engine rebuilds etc.). I still have BSS guidebooks going back to 1995 (pre Broads system), and it's difficult to understand the strange logic of some of the technical requirements. As an example, my CAV diesel fuel filter/water seperator has to be fitted with a metal bowl, as the (standard) glass one is "hazardous" and illegal. The argument, (ratified by the authors at Willow Grange), is that should the boat catch fire, the glass could break and add to the fire. What's likely to fail first, 6mm thick pyrex glass, or 2mm thick aluminium ?

BSS examiners have to interpret some of these often vague rules and come up with a definate "yea" or "nea" to all of the affected equipment in only an hour or two with the going rate of charges. Agreed, a quick job with smaller boats, but once they get up to 27 feet or more, they can be crammed with fuel, gas and electrical equipment and accessibilty can become quite a problem.

Another funny thing about the subject of testing, (just as with Car MOT's), is that people's perception of a "good" tester is based on two quite opposite perceptions. Half of them want a thorough professional test, so that they can be more confident of their own safety afterwards. The other half don't want to be ripped off , or bothered with nit picking rule enforcement that costs them further expense. I don't think I've ever heard word of mouth recommendations about an examiner being "so thorough and precise " ! :)

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Well well, some very interesting experiences and comments, have been 'posted' here, which does seem to indicate, as I initially thought, the whole thing is open to the individual examiner's interpretation, of what is safe and what is not.

I guess in fairness to the examiners, there can be a lot to cram into a given 'time frame' that does not incurr excessive cost for the customer. Clearly, each examiner is competing for business, and we as customers, will be looking to get the best deal.

Having said that, the 'best deal' has to be balanced with having the confidence that the examination will be thorough enough to highlight any real (as opposed to interpretation) dangers.

I would most certainly opt to be present when the examination is carried out, as like Strowager, in my time, I have done done some serious DiY, such as house rewiring, central heating installation (including the gas). All in the days before CORGI and the like of course. I'm still here, as is my family (all grown up now). Add to that Diy Motor Mechanics (complete engine and gearbox rebuilds, in the 'good old days before engine management systems ;) ), and a career in Radio & Electronics. So I have a reasonable understanding of what's going on.

Fuel systems, and LPG systems, along with the ventilation that must accompany these, must be at the top of the list. But then 230V AC shore power installations, which are most definitely a safety of life issues, apparently aren't included.

If this is so, then it makes a bit of a mockery of the BSS requirements.

All of the current sytems/appliances on my boat, were 'factory fitted' by the manufacturer, and examined by an independant BSS examiner, prior to the boat leaving the factory in April 2006. To the best of my knowledge, the applicable regulations haven't changed between then and now. So, other than deterioration or fault conditions, which if present, I would be aware off and correct, nothing has changed since the original BBS examination.

I'll be interested to hear how you get on Luke, and your personal impressions of the examination.

I will also enquire, who does the BSS examination where I moor, and the cost, then add this to the 'pool' of information that you guys have kindly provided.


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"As an example, my CAV diesel fuel filter/water seperator has to be fitted with a metal bowl, as the (standard) glass one is "hazardous" and illegal. The argument, (ratified by the authors at Willow Grange), is that should the boat catch fire, the glass could break and add to the fire. What's likely to fail first, 6mm thick pyrex glass, or 2mm thick aluminium ?

And yet my boat passed the BSS 3 years ago with the glass bowl still fitted (which it still is).

My BSS is due for renewal next June, so I will be intrigued to see if the examiner fails the glass bowl this time (I intend to use the same chap, despite Simon's misgivings about him, for that exact reason). However, in the period between tests, I have fitted shore power, battery charger, rewired, replumbed and fitted 2x Propex gas heaters (which have been tested by a Marine Corgi engineer).

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I posted on this thread to highlight the good work I received from a number of tradesmen. Simon's unfortunate post earlier on has now probably led to a guessing game about who he was referring to. More importantly the person I recomended is now probably being tarred with the same brush.

I have spoken to Simon and whilst I will not divulge our personal communication, I am glad to say that it put my mind at rest, not that it really needed it, and made me even happier that I choose to use Tim Waters. Again I can not rate him highly enough.

I have posted this message because as an unwelcome consequence of me making my post praising Tim's work, his name was unwittingly and wrongly added to the guessing game.


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I'm not necessary saying that anyone has done a bad job but merely highlighting the fact that by its very nature the BSS is entirely down to a) what the examiner finds and B) how he interprets it and its impact on safety. Therefore the results can vary wildly.

Of the two people I allude to, one I have never met so cannot comment, the other I would gladly hire again for any number of reasons.

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