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Boat Safety: Our Top 10 Guide

Boat Safety: Boating is the ultimate escape from the stresses and responsibilities of the real world. A haven of carefree fun and relaxation. But ‘carefree’ should never be confused with ‘careless’. We all have a duty of care toward our guests on board, be they family, friends or crew. Indeed, beyond forty five feet waterline length (which in Princess terminology equates to the Princess 52 and above) there is a statutory requirement laid down by the MCA (Maritime and Coastguard Agency) regarding the safety equipment that should be aboard. (And irrespective of size, it is always worth consulting your insurance company to be sure that you are compliant with its safety requirements).

Preparing for the worst case scenario isn’t just about making sure that you’re best equipped to deal with whatever emergency may beset you and your crew, it’s also about simply providing peace of mind for everyone on board, allowing them to be confident in the knowledge that – whilst it is extremely unlikely to occur – any emergency situation can be dealt with effectively.

Princess Motor Yacht Sales has long partnered Ocean Safety to supply and equip customer’s vessels not only to MCA or insurance stipulations, but also tailored to precise client needs. Falling, as it does, under the remit of RetroFit Sales Manager Chris Bailey, we asked him to give us his Top Ten recommendations and tips for on-board safety equipment. Whilst far from an exhaustive list, these are a few of the items that should certainly be considered.

For a ‘worst case’ situation of abandoning ship, equipping your yacht isn’t simply a matter of totting up the number of crew and buying the cheapest raft of appropriate capacity. Princess yachts are designed with liferaft stowage in mind, so often a specific type and style will provide the most effective installation and deployment. Dedicated cradles provide perfect stowage solutions and hydrostatic releases ensure that life rafts will deploy automatically even in the most severe of circumstance.

Lifejackets are a key item when it comes to boat safety. Princess offer two versions of the adult lifejacket, a standard auto-inflation unit designed to fulfil all emergency requirements and a premium version designed to be even more comfortable for longer periods of wear on board. But with younger family members in mind, Princess offers a full range of children’s lifejackets, from new born babies through to teenagers.

Personal locators fall into two categories. The AIS personal locator – ideal for night passages or rough weather trips – is designed to be worn inside a lifejacket and activates automatically upon inflation. It sends a ‘squawk’ to nearby DSC equipped VHF radios and uses AIS (Automatic Identification System) to immediately place accurate positioning information onto the vessel’s chart plotter, plus the distance and bearing of the person in the water. By contrast, the personal EPIRB uses a dedicated satellite system and in-built homing beacon to first alert relevant authorities to a distress situation and then guide the rescuers precisely to the target. Only for use in dire emergencies, it offers one of the quickest and most accurate methods of summoning outside help.

A flare kit appropriate to your cruising grounds is essential. Normal pyrotechnic flares include rocket flares with an ejection height of 350 metres through to smoke flares that burn for sixty seconds releasing high visibility orange smoke to highlight your location. But new onto the market are high intensity LED flares. Safe, lightweight and waterproof, the key advantage to LED flares is that they will ‘burn’ for over five hours with a visible range of up to seven miles.

Not only a back-up to the yacht’s main VHF radio in the event of failure, a hand-held radio adds portability – allowing two way communication from anywhere aboard ship, and can also offer useful ship to tender communication.

Naturally no yacht should ever be without a suitable first aid kit, but how about a smaller compact unit for the tender? The best medical kit in the world is of little use if you’re two miles away on a beach when someone falls victim to a slippery rock or needs quick attention for a sting or bite.

Not just an essential in the galley for pan fires, fire blankets are also often the most effective way of dealing with a person on fire, perhaps from an ignited fuel spill when refuelling a jetski or RIB for example.

Although not the most obvious item of emergency equipment, the latest versions of this life-saving equipment are excellent, featuring spoken voice instructions to assist even the most inexperienced in coping with a life threatening situation. Standby batteries typically last four years and the equipment will function for up to four hours of treatment.

In the heat of the moment the last thing you need is to be scratching around trying to find everything. A waterproof grab bag keeps all the essentials together and safe, ready to go. But it’s not just for obvious items like flares and an EPIRB. Consider keeping passports, spare glasses and medication in it as well.

The subject of boat safety equipment always tends to focus around recognised items like lifejackets and flares. But on a more fundamental level, there’s much to be said for a good old bucket and a powerful waterproof floating torch. The former comes in handy for everything from tender bailing to the dreaded mal de mar, the latter essential for pretty much any night-time emergency situation and very handy after dark the rest of the time.

If you have any questions regarding boat safety equipment at sea, contact our Retrofit team on +44 (0)1752 393311 or email