In fact, the UK’s Royal Yachting Association (RYA) suggests that it is essential that you properly equip your boat prior to going on the water and that you ensure that the craft is suitable for its intended use, adding that all equipment should be checked regularly for wear and tear or damage.

What is more, different equipment is required for day boats and boats with eating and sleeping facilities; and it is essential that one takes the time to learn how each item is used.

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Skippers should be mindful of any laws that exist in their country regarding pleasure craft safety equipment recommendations and keeping the vessel appropriately equipped as well as keeping the equipment serviced and up to date.

Some owners are put off doing this due to pleasure craft safety equipment being costly and might never be used. Yet, it is unwise to ignore pleasure craft safety equipment recommendations and not to keep a check of equipment expiry dates.

Besides, some equipment is mandatory for pleasure vessels of 13.7m in length and over which are classified in the Merchant Shipping Regulations as Class XII vessels.

Namely, Class XII vessels are required to comply with

1.      Merchant Shipping (Fire Protection: Small Craft) Regulations 1998; and

2.      Merchant Shipping (Life-Saving Appliances For Ships Other Than Ships Of Classes III To VI(A)) Regulations 1999.

Complying with the Merchant Shipping legislation can prove impractical and there is a possibility of conflict with the Recreational Craft Directive (RCD). To resolve this, there are three Exemptions to the Merchant Shipping Regulations.

If owners of Class XII vessels opt to comply with one or more of these Exemptions, they do not need to comply with the underlying regulations to which they relate.

It is said that there may be strict laws for commercial vessels and for pleasure vessels over 13.7 meters in length, yet, no statutory requirements exist for pleasure craft under 13.7 meters in length other than those stipulated in SOLAS V.

The lists below covers essential, mandatory and recommended items for vessels up to 13.7 metres and over 13.7 metres in length.

Pleasure craft safety equipment recommendations – vessels up to 13.7m in length

  • Essential
  1. Lifejacket (or buoyancy aid) for all on board
  2. Safety harnesses (varies with type of boat)
  3. Kill cord and spare (varies with type of boat)
  4. Marine Radio (VHF)
  5. Chart(s), Almanac and Pilot Book
  6. Hand Bearing Compass
  7. Handheld white flares or powerful torch (for collision avoidance)
  8. 406 MHz EPIRB/PLB (varies with area of operation)
  9. Distress Flares
  10. First Aid Kit
  11. Liferaft and Grab bag (varies with area of operation)
  12. Firefighting equipment
  13. Equipment to deal with a man overboard (life ring, dan buoy etc.)
  14. Emergency tiller (for wheel steered boats) (varies with type of boat)
  15. Equipment to deal with water ingress (Bailer, Bilge Pump, Bungs)
  16. Bucket (strong with lanyard)
  17. Emergency VHF aerial for fixed VHF (varies with type of boat)
  18. Anchor and cable/warp
  19. Tools and spares (engine, electrics, rig, sails)
  20. Boarding ladder
  21. Spare fuel
  22. Waterproof torches
  23. Mooring lines and fenders
  24. Knife
  25. Pump and puncture repair kit (for inflatable boats)
  26. Alternative means of propulsion (oars, outboard engine etc)
  27. Ship’s log book
  28. Accurate clock or watch
  • Mandatory
  1. Radar reflector
  2. Lifesaving signals
  3. Navigation lights, day shapes and sound signalling equipment
  • Recommended
  1. LW radio
  2. Fixed steering compass (lit at night)
  3. Drawing instruments for navigation (plotters and dividers)
  4. Binoculars
  5. Echo sounder
  6. Log
  7. GPS/Chart Plotter
  8. Navtex
  9. Barometer (varies with area of operation)
  10. Storm sails (for sailing yachts) (varies with area of operation)
  11. Bosun’s chair (for sailing yachts) (varies with type of boat)
  12. Tender
  13. Tow rope
  14. Boat hook
  • At your discretion
  1. MF/HF radio (varies with area of operation)
  2. SSB radio and / or satellite phone (varies with area of operation)
  3. Automated Identification System (AIS)
  4. Radar
  5. SART/ AIS SART (varies with area of operation)
  6. Propeller guards and rope cutters
  7. Sea anchor and/or drogue (varies with area of operation)

Pleasure craft safety equipment recommendations – vessels over 13.7m in length

  • Essential
  1. Lifejacket (or buoyancy aid) for all on board
  2. Safety harnesses
  3. Kill cord and spare (varies with type of boat)
  4. Chart(s), Almanac and Pilot Book
  5. Hand Bearing Compass
  6. 406 MHz EPIRB/PLB (varies with area of operation)
  7. Distress Flares
  8. First Aid Kit
  9. Emergency tiller (for wheel steered boats)
  10. Equipment to deal with water ingress (Bailer, Bilge Pump, Bungs)
  11. Emergency VHF aerial for fixed VHF (varies with type of boat)
  12. Anchor and cable/warp
  13. Tools and spares (engine, electrics, rig, sails)
  14. Spare fuel
  15. Waterproof torches
  16. Mooring lines and fenders
  17. Knife
  18. Pump and puncture repair kit (for inflatable boats)
  19. Alternative means of propulsion (oars, outboard engine etc)
  20. Ship’s log book
  21. Accurate clock or watch
  • Mandatory
  1. Radar reflector
  2. Lifesaving signals
  3. Navigation lights, day shapes and sound signalling equipment
  4. Marine Radio (VHF)
  5. MF/HF radio (varies with area of operation)
  6. Handheld white flares (for collision avoidance) or powerful torch
  7. Liferaft and Grab bag (varies with area of operation)
  8. Firefighting equipment
  9. Equipment to deal with a man overboard (life ring, dan buoy etc.)
  10. Bucket (strong with lanyard)
  11. Boarding ladder
  • Recommended
  1. Fixed steering compass (lit at night)
  2. Drawing instruments for navigation (plotters and dividers)
  3. Binoculars
  4. Echo sounder
  5. Log
  6. GPS/Chart Plotter
  7. Navtex
  8. Barometer
  9. Storm sails (for sailing yachts)
  10. Bosun’s chair (for sailing yachts)
  11. Tender
  12. Tow rope
  13. Boat hook
  • At your discretion
  1. SSB radio and / or satellite phone
  2. Automated Identification System (AIS)
  3. Radar
  4. SART/ AIS SART
  5. Propeller guards and rope cutters
  6. Sea anchor and/or drogue