Checking your equipment on board: an essential step

The end of winter is coming, your boat will soon be rearmed or put back in the water? Have you just bought a second-hand boat or even a new one? These are good opportunities to take a look at the safety equipment on board, both in terms of the conformity of the equipment and its condition if it becomes necessary to use it for navigation.

The regulatory document that defines the conditions of use and mandatory equipment for recreational boating is called Division 240. This regulation concerns all boats used in pleasure and sport boating.

The concept of shelters

This is an essential notion, because in Division 240, the equipment to be carried on board depends on how far away you are from a shelter. According to the official definition, "a shelter is a place on the coast where any craft, boat or ship and its crew can be brought to safety by anchoring, landing or docking and leaving without help. This concept takes into account the weather and sea conditions at the time and the characteristics of the craft or ship."

For a sailing boat, 4 zones of distance from a shelter are defined:

  • When sailing less than 2 miles from a shelter, you are in the basic zone.
  • Between 2 and 6 miles from a shelter, we are in the coastal zone.
  • Between 6 and 60 miles from a shelter, we are in the semi-offshore zone.
  • Finally, beyond 60 miles from a shelter, we are in the offshore zone.

Picksea tip: how do you determine if a place on the coast is a shelter?

Since the above definition leaves a great deal of freedom of interpretation, the notion of shelter must be analysed as follows:

  1. Does the place allow the boat to stop and immobilize: docking, mooring, anchoring or "beaching"?
  2. Once immobilised, is the boat safe given the weather and sea conditions and can the crew disembark safely?
  3. If the boat has to ground or " beach": is it designed to ground (otherwise there is a risk of damage to the hull or power unit)? Does the water level with the tide allow the boat to leave without assistance? Finally, does the sea conditions and the evolution allow the boat to run aground without risk? 

What do you need to have on board in any case? (art 240-2.07)

It is necessary to have on board the equipment that allows you to be in conformity with the COLREGs (reminder: the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea) or RIPAM in french:

  • A black anchor ball and a black cone (for sailing boats)
  • Position lights for night navigation
  • A foghorn
  • The N and C pavilions of the International Code of Flags
  • In addition, it will be necessary to check that your boat is equipped with a boarding facility (allowing it to be put in place by a person in the water) and, if an outboard motor is used, that the circuit breaker is working.

What do you need to have on board if you are within 2 miles from a shelter? (art 240-2.03)

  • Each passenger must be able to wear a lifejacket, in accordance with CE ISO or Solas standards, adapted to his morphology and with a minimum buoyancy of 50 Newtons. For children, the buoyancy must be at least 100 Newtons.
  • Each lifejacket must be equipped with a waterproof light locating device with a 6-hour autonomy: flash lamp, cyalumine,... Otherwise, a waterproof torch, preferably floating, with a 6-hour autonomy is required on board.
  • One or more fire extinguishing devices as indicated in the boat's "Owner's Manual". Without this, the requirements of Annex 3 of the D240 are necessary.
  • A manual water drainage system (bucket, bailer, hand pump, deck pump) adapted to the volume of the boat if it is not self-draining or if it has a living space.
  • The necessary equipment to enable the boat to be towed: a mooring point fixed on board and a mooring line of at least 25 metres.
  • A mooring line which must include: an anchor (weight adapted to the boat), chain (mesh size and weight adapted to the boat and length at least 1.5 times the length of the boat) and is extended by a rope which will allow the boat to be moored (the length of the rope depends above all on the average depths of the mooring areas: the minimum to be provided for is 3 times this average depth). It should be noted that light weight boats weighing less than 250 kg are exempt from mooring lines.
  • A way of knowing the times and tide coefficients of the day and the sailing area (except in the Mediterranean).
  • Outside territorial waters, the national flag must be worn.

What Picksea advises you to have on board in addition:

  • A boathook if the freeboard is more than 50 cm (the boathook allows you to pick up an object in the water safely, without bending overboard and taking the risk of falling into the water).
  • Blocking devices (cones) if the boat is equipped with sea-cocks and gates.
  • Several moorings
  • A first aid kit

What do you need to have on board if you don't go further than 6 miles from a shelter? (art 240-2.04)

  • All basic navigation equipment
  • Life jackets can have a buoyancy capacity of 50 Newtons if they are actually worn by all crew members and are each equipped with a light tracking device. If they are not worn permanently by crew members, the lifejackets must have a minimum buoyancy capacity of 100 Newtons. For inflatable lifejackets, check the expiration dates and the condition of the release systems.
  • A device for locating and helping a person who has fallen into the water (life buoy and overturning fire, IOR pole, rescue sling, ...). Exempts if all passengers are permanently wearing their life jackets equipped with a luminous locating device.
  • Three red hand lights (with validity dates in conformity)
  • A waterproof magnetic compass or a GPS system indicating the route being followed.
  • The marine charts of the area visited, kept up to date, in paper or electronic format. In this case, the electronic device for consulting and using the maps must be operational.
  • The COLREGs or an extract of it in the form of a sheet or a sticker.
  • A description of the markings or an extract of them in the form of a sheet or sticker

What Picksea advises you to have on board in addition:

  • An electronic depth sounder (depth gauge) and or handheld.
  • A waterproof 5W portable VHF

What do you need to have on board if you don't go more than 60 miles from a shelter? (art 240-2.05)

  • All the equipment for coastal navigation
  • Lifejackets must have a buoyancy capacity of 150 Newtons. For inflatable lifejackets, check expiration dates and the condition of the release systems.
  • A harness and lanyard per person on board a sailing boat. For a motorboat, only one harness and its lanyard for the boat is required.
  • A waterproof magnetic compass is necessary
  • A 25 watt fixed VHF operational
  • The equipment used to establish a position, draw and follow a route: navigation rule, bearing compass and brass divider straight (if paper charts are on board) or an operational electronic system.
  • A life raft in compliance with CE ISO 9650 (< 24 hours) or class V standards that can take all passengers on board, with valid maintenance.
  • A searchlight (search for a person fallen into the water at night).
  • A properly completed logbook
  • A book of navigation lights
  • A method to receive weather information (beyond the VHF coverage): SSB or Navtex receiver.
  • A first aid kit complying with the requirements for offshore navigation (art 240-2.19)

What Picksea advises you to have on board in addition:

  • To complete an electronic system of navigation by "traditional" methods.
  • A waterproof 5 watt portable VHF
  • A Grab Bag for crossings

What do you need to have on board if you go more than 60 miles away from a shelter? (art 240-2.06)

  • All the equipment for semi-shore navigation
  • A waterproof EPIRB 406 Mhz EPIRB or EPIRB 406 Mhz emergency locator
  • A waterproof 5 watt portable VHF operational
  • A life raft to CE ISO 9650 (> 24 hours) or Class II standards that can take all passengers on board, with valid maintenance.

What Picksea recommends you to have on board as well:

  • A satellite communication device to be able to communicate with an MRCC and contact the Maritime Medical Consultation Centre.
  • A sextant and charts to be able to position yourself in case of power failure on board or an autonomous portable GPS as a backup.
At Picksea, we take great care to ensure that you are fully equipped and up to date with your safety equipment on board. If you have the slightest doubt or question about the validity or choice of equipment, do not hesitate to contact our experts.
Need more information in order to choose the right equipment? Find all our advice.