Sailboat, motorboat, boat without a licence without training, boat without a licence with training... how to find your way around in French legislation? The seaZen Academy, specialist in solar navigation, offers you to discover the regulatory framework according to your navigation practices.

What do the rules say?

The marine regulations require a pleasure craft licence for all motor boats above an engine power of 6 HP. According to the site

"A Pleasure Craft Licence is required to operate a pleasure craft with an engine power greater than 4.5 kilowatts (6 horsepower), whether on sea or river."

However, sailboats are often manoeuvred without a licence even though their engines are more than 6 HP? In France, sailboats do not need a permit, a practical training is enough to sail in France, we will present the sailing clubs at the end of the article.

The boat licence center for motor-boating in France

The boating licence is necessary to skipper motor yachts in France

The boating licence is necessary for skippers of motor yachts in France.

The pleasure boat licence, or boating licence, is required if you are sailing on a motorboat over 4.5 kW and this of course applies to all motorboats, even jet skis. The training for the boat licence is itself regulated, it must take place in a school approved for the sea licence.

Which boat licensing center to choose?

You can consult Sport Découverte's selection of boating licence schools. If you are in Beaulieu-sur-Mer we recommend the Agence Maritime (French). Generally, if you want to pass your licence in the best conditions, we recommend spending 2 weeks on it. First of all, you have to "digest" the theory and also practice a little bit before taking the test, and then you also have to count the time it takes to register for the exam!

The 3 main types of license-free boats at sea

There are mainly 3 types of unlicensed motorboats that can navigate at sea :

The Solar

A solar-powered catamaran is the largest and most comfortable boat without a licence.

The efficiency of the catamaran offers maximum size and comfort

The catamaran, with a surface area of 14 m2 is appreciated for its comfort because it is raised, with a real table for 6, spaces to lie down at the bow and stern. Its large sunroof protects from the sun's rays and, above all, allows you to return to port on your own. A safety and flexibility advantage if you need to rent by the hour.

Electric engine + batteries

The electric boat is larger than the conventional boat because the engine output is better.

The electric motor provides more thrust, which allows for an increase in size

This electric licence-free boat is the logical evolution of the combustion boat, bigger with a surface near 10 m2, it does not emit CO2 which is a notable progress in terms of environment. Usually rented by the day or half a day, it must be recharged in the port before each trip.

The 'Classic'.
Combustion engine + fuel

A "traditional » licence-free boat is small enough to be able to sail with a 6CV engine.

Its small size makes it possible to sail with a combustion engine at a small price

Thanks to its small size for a surface near 8 m2, the traditional licence-free boat can be manoeuvred extremely easily. A short briefing of a few minutes is enough. Usually when we talk about boat without a licence at sea, we think of this type of boat.

Is it better to buy, rent or practice with Boat Club?

Actually, it all depends on your needs. Here are a few ideas to help you make your choice:

Choice Pros Cons
Rent by hour
  • Sailing accompanied by a pro
  • Going out episodically
  • Gaining experience as a family
  • The amount of training required depends on the size of the boat and your sailing programme
Boat Club
  • Going out frequently and for short periods of time
  • Saving practice
  • There aren't many Boat-Clubs in France yet
  • Business models are very different from club to club
Weekly rental
  • Spending holidays with your family
  • You already need to know your crew members and their reactions at sea
  • Without a skipper, you also have to know how to take the weather forecast, route the boat and read the charts
  • Sailing +14 days / year to amortize the cost of boat + port + maintenance
  • Making a dream come true
  • Statutory purchase as a symbol of social success will become increasingly meaningless if the boat is not eco-responsible
  • Port berths are limited and maintenance requires a high level of involvement

Where can we try all these navigation modes?

The marina of Beaulieu, near Nice Côte d'Azur, offers most of these modes of navigation. SeaZen, author of this article, proposes solar powered boating, such as Private Boat TourLicense-free RentalBoat Club, and Boat Sales.

What are the sailing or motor sailing schools for navigating without a license?

  • The sailing club, for the practice of sailing

    A sailboat can be driven without a licence, even if the engine is over 6HP. The legislation is very consistent in this regard. One should not imagine that by adding a sail to a motorboat it will be able to be driven without a licence. A sailboat is defined by the ratio between engine power and sail power. In fact, and to put it simply, a sailboat is a boat that potentially moves forward better if it uses its sails and less if it uses its engine. If it is the opposite, then it is a motor boat.

    A sailboat can be skippered without a licence in France.

    A sailboat can be skippered without a licence in France

    Driving a sailboat is more complex than driving a motorboat. So every skipper in his right mind understands that he needs a minimum of training before setting out to sea. This is why it is not necessary to have a motor licence.

    Which sailing school to choose?

    Usually the sailing courses are given by the Sailing Clubs under the quality label of French Sailing Federation.

    If you are in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, we recommend the Yacht Club de Beaulieu.

  • The Boat-Club for the practice of motorboating

    Practical training is necessary to carry out basic manoeuvres such as returning to port or anchoring on your own. If you have the permit it can be very useful either as a booster shot either as for training a new crew. If you don't have experience, it is simply indispensable when the boat exceeds a certain size.

    The boat club concept comes from the United States. The membership usually consists of an entry fee for the handling of the boat and a subscription allowing frequent boat rentals.

    SeaZen has created a concept of boat club without subscription. Thanks to its  academy  you can use the boat as early as one hour of practice. You then pay the boat rental only if you use it. It is even possible to practice a virtual tour from your home!

    Boat club members benefit from solar navigation

    And last but not least, you will have the pleasure of sailing on a solar boat. Quiet and environmentally friendly. Beware, after an hour of practice, you may not want to go back on a thermal boat!