The high-end barge, technically registered as the vessel ‘Sawasdee’, can accommodate 500 guests with a crew of 35 on board, the Phuket Marine Office explained through an official report yesterday (Jan 6).
The boat is already at anchor in Patong Bay, where Patong Municipality has already approved the vessel to operate as a restaurant. However, the decision whether the boat is allowed to remain at anchor in the bay has yet to be decided, the official report said yesterday.
Other floating restaurants are allowed in Phuket, particularly off Bang Rong Pier and in between Phuket and Koh Maphrao, off Phuket’s east coast.
However, if approved, the Sawasdee will be the first such floating ‘beach club barge’ permitted to remain at anchor in Patong.
The boat has already run afoul of Marine Department regulations, with its registration expiring last month, the Phuket Marine Office reported.
The boat operators were fined B10,000 for the infraction. The operators have applied to renew the boat’s registration, the report confirmed.
However, Phuket marine officials have yet to complete their inspections of the boat, which they reported as a steel vessel with a size of 579 gross tons. No other dimensions of the boat were mentioned in the report.
Key concerns for marine officials are safety measures on board the boat, which carries at least six life rafts ready to be deployed from its stern. The boat also features a fire hose station on board.
Explaining the boat’s history, Phuket marine officials reported that the Swasdee was initially registered with port authorities at Kantang Port in Trang province, south of Phuket, on Dec 16, 2021.
The boat, powered by dual 373kW Cummins diesel engines, is registered as a “type of sea-going vessel” permitted to operate only in specific areas. Which “specific areas” were not specified.
The ship’s owner is a company located in Rawai. The boat arrived in Phuket from Kantang on June 4 last year, with its master named as “Mr Thanawat” (family name not reported), said Phuket marine officers yesterday.
Officers from the Phuket Marine Office first inspected the boat at the Baan Yamu Pier on Nov 16 last year. Officers instructed the boat owner to immediately take action to change the boat’s registered type of use. The boat owner was also instructed to present plans of how waste management is to be conducted on board, and present a passenger safety plan.
The shipowner’s representative [sic] on Dec 29 submitted an application for a license to use the boat, and requested the Phuket Regional Harbor Office to again inspect the boat.
Officers returned to inspect the boat again on Wednesday (Jan 4) as part of the procedure for the boat license renewal. This time the inspection was conducted in Patong Bay, where the Sawasdee had already relocated.
The officers inspected the boat’s ‘sailing equipment’, communication equipment, maritime signal apparatus, hull structure and safety equipment on board, “including large machinery and other fixtures, etc.”, Phuket marine officials noted.
The boat owner has now presented a letter of approval to drop anchor in Patong Bay issued by the Phuket Marine Resources Conservation Center, including a certificate of transport and approval for its solid waste management system. Patong City municipality has also issued the operator a “certificate of sound use” for the Sawasdee, said the official report yesterday.
The boat owner has filed a formal request with the Marine Department’s Bureau of Ship Standards, based in Bangkok, to change the boat’s registered “type of ship” in order to meet its intended purpose. The request is currently under consideration, Phuket marine officials noted.
Regardless, Phuket marine officials will conduct a final inspection to assess the garbage and ship waste measures to control water pollution and the boat’s safety measures “in case of various emergencies such as fires, people falling into the water, including emergency passenger evacuation and first aid, etc”.
“The Phuket Regional Office of the Marine Department will conduct a thorough inspection to ensure that the operator strictly complies with the law before providing tourists with initial services,” Phuket marine officials assured yesterday.