- Making sure you arrive safely at the next harbour
The first step to being safe on the water is to ask yourself what you already know about safety. This includes familiarising yourself with your own boat before setting off and instructing your crew on important safety procedures and equipment. To avoid risks, always check the weather forecast and pay attention to any changes and developments. Even a 2-man crew requires both members to be well briefed. After all, it makes little sense if one member goes overboard and the other does not know how to get him or her back on board.
- Personal safety equipment & man overboard
Every boat should carry a sufficient number of life jackets for every person on board. In order to comply with current safety regulations in Europe, life jackets must carry a CE mark. At sea, personal safety equipment should include one safety harness per person to hook into. Jackets should be equipped with a signal whistle and a light. Note that not all life jackets come with a light as standard. Furthermore, all boats should be equipped with a life belt with a floatable rescue line & light. Before starting your voyage, you should carefully consider what measures to take in case of an MOB emergency and check the rescue options. It is important to familiarise yourself with equipment, especially if you have chartered a boat. It may also be advisable to take your own small set of safety equipment on board. Preventing an accident from occurring is paramount, because let's face it, the chances of getting back on board, especially in strong winds, swells or at night, are slim. A mobile distress beacon can also increase the chances of rescue. When buying, pay attention to the frequencies over which the distress signal is transmitted. There are differences depending on the manufacturer. The most common are AIS transmitters. Any vessel with AIS on board can see the "live" position of the distressed person on their PC or plotter and initiate an immediate rescue operation. AIS transmitters are registered to boats and therefore cannot be taken on charter trips. If you want a transmitter you can take with and not only use on your own boat but also when sailing with others, or even for other sports, please contact us. In this case, we recommend satellite communication devices. Let us advise you which device is the right one for you.
One of the biggest dangers on board is fire. Fire can quickly spread in a matter of minutes. Oil, cable, electrical and engine fires are the most common, yet another reason why everyone on board should know what to do in an emergency. Every boat should be equipped with suitable fire fighting equipment. Depending on the size of your boat, we recommend at least two portable class ABC fire extinguishers. Even a simple fire blanket in the galley can prevent serious accidents.
In the event of a maritime emergency, you must be able to communicate your presence effectively. You should therefore always carry a signalling device together with matches or a lighter.
No matter where you are sailing, we recommend the following signalling equipment:
2 orange smoke flares with a smoke duration of 2 minutes or 1 orange, floating smoke signal with a smoke duration of 4 minutes
2 red hand-held flares with a burn time of 60 seconds
8 red parachute rockets with a rise height of 300 m and burn time of 30 seconds. Sports boats close to the coast can also use a flare with red light stars and a rise height of at least 80 m instead. This is not subject to specialist knowledge.
Distress beacons should be stored on board in a suitable container which complies with the legal requirements for weapons. Make sure that you are familiar with the correct use of the device so that you can react quickly in case of an emergency and use the signalling equipment safely.
Please note that in order to purchase many distress beacons, a certificate of competence in accordance with the provisions of weapons law or a certificate of expertise in accordance with explosives law is required.
For some sailing areas, important flags & other signalling items, e.g. to indicate manoeuvrability, should also be carried.
The minimum requirement for each boat is an appropriate bailing device.A bilge pump is recommended for larger boats, often an electric bilge pump is installed, which should be serviced and tested regularly. For smaller boats a bucket and/or bailer should also be carried on board. We further recommend that you have a supply of emergency plugs in various sizes as well as sealants on board. Experienced mariners also know other methods of blocking leaks (e.g. with a carrot). But as already mentioned, spontaneous creativity doesn't always come to everyone in an emergency.
A first aid kit should be carried on board for minor & serious injuries. Different types of equipment are available to purchase, depending on the sailing area. The crew must be given clear instructions here too. It's not without good reason that 80% of the crew is now required to have an ISAF certificate (World Sailing Safety Certificate) for ocean racing.
In Germany it is recommended to carry a life raft when sailing in the open sea. A life raft not only protects from drowning but also against hypothermia. In some cases, it can also be used to get people who have gone overboard back on deck safely. It should therefore be part of the safety equipment of every boat, especially in the North and Baltic Sea. In some countries it is also compulsory to carry life rafts, depending on the sailing area. In Germany it is obligatory to carry a life raft on charter yachts at sea and in some sailing regattas. More detailed information about life rafts can be found in our guide.
Check your safety equipment regularly and be sure to keep your rescue gear up to date to ensure it will work in an emergency. The prescribed maintenance intervals for life jackets and life rafts can be found on the attached maintenance sticker or on the manufacturer's website. Remember to inform all crew members and guests about safety equipment on board and how it works.