Check the safety of your yacht when on land

Good fortune comes with solid preparation, so the saying goes, and all sailors depend on good fortune at sea. So, make sure you are ready by renewing and repairing your boat’s safety kit this winter, while it is in the crib and easy to work on. Here are a few safety essentials you should consider:

Storm sails

If next season’s plans involve venturing far off the coast, you might think about getting storm sails. They usually begin to be used in winds above 45 knots, for sparing the main and jibs and to reduce the power of the rig. Look for heavy duty fabrics in bright colours, strong reinforcement in stitches, luffs and leach, and load points around the cringle. Some come with sheets ready to be joined.

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Guard cable

Most yachts have a protective wire made of 1 × 19 stainless steel. Over time, this hole wears down where it passes through the stanchions, creating a danger of getting stuck or even possibly failing. Often finished with PVC coating, check your wire regularly and replace it when used.

Emergency lifeboat

A Life raft is a smart safety investment if you plan on serious roaming. Make sure you choose one with the right capacity for your crew number, and that it is strong enough to face your roaming possibilities. For offshore sailing, choose one that meets ISO 9650, type 1 with food packages and equipment designed to last more than 24 hours.

There is no point in having one of these on board if it is not managed properly. Make sure it is serviced at least every three years – a process that involves testing inflation, replacing lost inventory and repackaging. Also ensure any winches you have on board for lifting dinghies or life rafts are in good working condition. For more information on a new Davit Crane, visit

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Once again, for offshore sailors, Epirb is very much needed at this time. Operating at 406MHz, they notify search and rescue agents of your exact location via satellite link. They then provide delivery signals for end-mile locations, and many also have automatic strobe and deployment.


Like many electronics for your ship, AIS has exceptional safety value. Whether you install the receiver alone, or the unit that also transmits your position to the world, it can provide an early warning about a possible collision situation by looking for the closest approach point of the ship in range. Modern multifunctional displays (MFD) can display AIS data directly, or you can buy AIS units with a special screen.


In some parts of the world, privately-used sailing vessels are required to carry emergency signalling devices, but not in the UK. Many of us will have flares on board ‘just in case’, without thinking too hard about their expiration dates but using one past its expiration date is risky. The consequences of finding that the flare is not working, or even the damage to your hand is unpleasant to contemplate.

Gas detector

Many older ships do not have gas detectors, despite the consequences of a potentially catastrophic gas leak. They are easy and relatively inexpensive to install.