Recommendations for Safety Equipment
The safety of a yacht and her crew is the responsibility of the skipper!
Going to sea in a boat is potentially dangerous and no amount of equipment will make
sea-going safe if the skipper and crew are not fully competent or if conditions become
extreme. However, the right equipment can help everybody to cope with danger and
misadventure, so that the risks are reduced to an acceptable level.
The plan for any cruise should take into account the strength and competence of the
crew. A crew with a high proportion of novices and young children is unlikely to
enjoy the physical stress of making long passages. In rough weather, their reserves
of strength may be totally exhausted so that the yacht is placed in a situation which
is hazardous not only for itself but for those who come to the rescue. The human
resources are even more important than the equipment carried and sufficient hot food
must be available to enable them to continue to function satisfactorily.
In a seaway, watch-keeping is important and a routine should be established early
in the passage. In the Irish Sea, ferries can approach at over 30knots - less than
15 mins from hull down to collision. They do, however, carry sophisticated collision
systems. Ferry operators recommend that you do not change course to avoid the risk
of confusing these systems. In the vicinity of Holyhead, monitor Port Control (Ch14)
for up to date traffic movements. In heavy weather it is particularly important that
off-watch crew are well rested and well fed.
Sea-sickness pills should be carried but should be used with caution since many cause
drowsiness. Unfortunately, to be effective, they must be taken in advance of the
bad weather and this means that any tendency to sea-sickness should be confirmed
before embarking on a passage. Experiment beforehand to determine the type of pill
appropriate to your metabolism and that of your crew, to maximise effectiveness and
minimise unwanted side-effects. Skippers should remember that, since some remedies
may react with other medications, the final decision to take seasickness medication
must lie with the individual.
The equipment which may be required in any yacht depends on the area in which she
sails, the weather conditions she is likely to encounter and to some degree, the
size of the yacht. The most important factor is deciding the extent to which a yacht
is likely to be caught out in rough weather and this will necessarily depend on boat
speed and distance from harbour that the boat ventures. The recommendations which
follow have been drafted for yachts (generally between 8.0m and 14m) which are unlikely
to be more than 12 hours from a harbour or suitable anchorage. That is, the conditions
in which a Venturer’s cruiser is most likely to find herself and in broad correspondence
with the R.Y.A.’s Category B conditions.
In the final analysis the skipper must take full responsibility for the boat and
her crew. The Club cannot take responsibility for any mishap to a yacht accepting
these guidelines, however it may be caused.
The notes which follow are adapted from the RYA’s publication C8/02.
Means of Propulsion
Yachts should have:
- a deep reef in the main which will reduce the luff to 60% of full hoist or a storm
- a storm jib.
- an isolated battery whose sole purpose is to start the engine or means of hand cranking
Anchors and chain should be at least as heavy as those recommended by the RYA. A
yacht should carry:
- at least TWO anchors of appropriate weight for bower and kedge.
- adequate chain or chain & warp for the waters in which it is sailing.
- anchor fittings which include:
- a fairlead at the stem capable of being closed over the anchor chain (or warp).
- a strong point on the foredeck - a mooring cleat, sampson post or anchor winch -
securely fitted to the structure of the hull.
Bailing & Bilge pumping
Bailing equipment should be chosen with the strength of the crew in mind.
- A small hand bailer.
- Buckets (2) of between 9 litres (1.2 galls) and 14 litres (3 galls) fitted with a
lanyard and a strongly secured handle.
- Hand bilge pumps (2) (or one electric, one hand) discharging overboard and capable
of being operated with all hatches closed.
- All through-hull fittings should be capable of being closed and attached softwood
- Radar reflector, properly mounted.
- Fixed navigation lights with masthead tri-colour (for sailing only).
- Foghorn (and spare cartridge).
- Powerful torch (preferably waterproof) with spare batteries.
- Anchor light.
- Motoring cone (for motor-sailing).
- Anchor ball.
The minimum set of flares should be in date and should meet the SOLAS requirements.
Pyrotechnics should be stored in a waterproof container and must be easily accessible.
Instant-access collision avoidance flares are often carried in the hatchway.
- Hand held red flares 4 off
- Hand held orange smoke signals 2 off
- Red parachute rockets 4 off
- Hand held white (collision) flares 4 off
Fire fighting equipment
The following recommendations are made by the RYA.
- Fire blanket (BS EN1869) placed for use in the galley.
- A minimum of two (2) and preferably three (3) multi-purpose fire extinguishers (of
minimum rating 5A/3B (to BS EN34) - Foam or dry powder, for example) or two 5A/3B
and one larger 13A/113B on bigger boats.
Personal safety equipment
The following items should be available for every person on board:
- Warm clothing, oilskins, seaboots and hat.
- A lifejacket of 150 newtons buoyancy (BS EN 396).
- Light attached to lifejacket.
- Safety harness to EN1095 (BS4474 for children).
General emergency equipment
- An emergency grab-bag containing food, navigation aids and medical supplies.
- An inflatable liferaft, either designed or adapted for use as such.
- Horse-shoe lifebelts with drogue, fitted with self igniting lights (2).
- Buoyant heaving line at least 30m in length.
- Boarding ladder.
- Dan buoy (NOT attached to yacht).
- Receiver capable of receiving shipping forecasts on LW (198khz) and from local radio
stations. In the Irish Sea this also includes Irish (RTE1) on 567 kHz. (88.5MHz)
- A marine band VHF radio telephone capable of transmitting 25w.
- Emergency aerial for the VHF R/T.
Increasingly, integrated electronic equipment is reducing the apparent necessity
for basic navigation gear. However, complete power failure in the most adverse weather
conditions (fog) must be assumed when equipping a yacht for any form of passage,
however short. The following should be carried as a matter of course. Other Club
boats must not be relied on to provide assistance.
- Charts (corrected to latest Notices to Mariners) covering the intended cruising area
and all adjacent coasts where stress of weather might force the yacht to go.
- Tide tables and pilots covering the same areas.
- Fixed steering compass, capable of being lit at night.
- Hand bearing compass (at least one).
- Surface suitable for use as nav. table, with plotting instruments and dividers.
- Echo sounder and/or leadline.
- Distance Log.
- Binoculars (at least one pair).
- Radio navigation system (GPS).
- Accurate, battery powered, clock.
First Aid & Medical
A first aid kit should be carried, containing:
- Dressings, bandages and lotions.
- Manuals, from Red Cross or St. John Ambulance for instance. Additional information
about medical care overseas is available from www.direct.gov.uk
- Emergency tiller on wheel steered yachts.
- Towing warp (12/14 mm, at least 30m in length) or anchor warp.
- Mooring warps and fenders.
- Tender - rigid or inflatable.
- Tool kits for Engine, Electrics, Sails, General.
- Spares for engine, electrics, sails and bosun’s bag (shackles, blocks, winch springs,
clevis pins, split pins, assorted nuts & bolts etc.)
- Emergency water supply, isolated from main tank.
- Emergency hull repair materials.
- Waterproof torch
- Bosun’s chair
These recommendations are for guidance. Skippers should purchase a copy of RYA booklet,
“Boat Safety Handbook” (G103). Offshore, the RYA booklet G87 is recommended as is
the RNLI publication “Sea Safety - the complete guide.”
Charts & Guides
- Chart C52 covers most of the regular cruising grounds.
- Chart C61 St Georges Channel, for cruises to Milford Haven and Waterford
- Chart C62 Irish Sea, for cruises to Ireland north of Dublin and Solway Firth
- Y70 Isle of Man
- Folio 2700 North & West Wales, provides more detailed chartage.
The Admiralty charts for the areas included in the Club programme are:
- SC5609 Leisure Folio
- 1411 Irish Sea - Western Part
- 1413 Approaches to Holyhead
- 1463 Conwy Bay and Approaches
- 1464 Menai Strait
- 1512 Plans on the Lleyn Peninsula
- 1826 Irish Sea - Eastern Part
- 1951 Approaches to Liverpool
- 1953 Approaches to the River Dee
- 1970 Caernarfon Bay
- 1971 Cardigan Bay - Northern Part
- 1977 Holyhead to Great Ormes Head
- 1978 Great Ormes Head to Liverpool
- 2011 Holyhead Harbour
- 2094 Kirkcudbright to Mull of Galloway and Isle of Man
- 2696 Plans in the Isle of Man
Pilots and Sailing Directions
- ‘Cruising Anglesey and adjoining waters’, **Ralph Morris, published by Imray
- ‘Irish Sea Pilot’ **David Rainsbury, published by Imray
- ‘Isle of Man Sailing Directions’ Manx Sailing & Cruising Club
- ‘Firth of Clyde Sailing Directions’ Clyde Cruising Club.
- ‘East & North coasts of Ireland’ Irish Cruising Club
** Club members