Saturday, December 1, 2018


In Part 1 of this 2 part article series (I re-posted part 1 article within this post below) I noted the required federal and state equipment to have on board a recreational sailboat of 26 feet and under. However what is required and what is needed can be a bit blurry. It is my hope this article helps you to determine what you need beyond the required such as gear, parts and accessories. What is needed of course for a 12 foot monohull sailing dinghy will be different than what is needed for a 18 foot catamaran, or a 22 foot keelboat.

I have included the attached "Small Sailboat Safety Check" form that was included in part 1 here again as its shows required equipment of course but also on the right side of the form shows a list of recommended items, which we will review.

I. Frist on the list is the Marine Radio or some form of long distance communication device. Some people use cellphones but as we all know reception is not always available however with a portable Marine VHF radio its likely you will almost always have reception and due to the durable design of almost all portable VHF radios they can survive in the most experime environments unlike a cell phone. My recommendation is of course to always have a VHF radio on board. Make sure its charged.

II. Bailer and/or Bilge pump may or may not be needed on a small sailboat. Some boats like a beach catamaran which typically included enclosed hulls will not permit you to bail water, however a small sailboat with a cockpit may get water on board and thus you will want a bailer to get rid of the water, particularly after a capsize. Other boats like the Hobie Mirage Islands (sailing kayaks) have enclosed hull where you can open a hatch to put stuff in it, and these areas within the hull can also get water on board, same with Keelboats. So in both case a manual or electric Bilge Pump is needed. In other cases a good quality sponge like a sea sponge may be all you need. For my small Super Sea Snark which is only 11 feet long I like to use a plastic milk jug with the bottom cut off and cap glued on. It's bendable to conform with the shape of the cockpit to allow one to get water out of tight corner. A bailer is basically a bucket and a Bilge is a pump manual or electric.

III. Mounting a Fire Extinguishers (FX) in a readily accessible location is advisable on Keelboats or other sailboats where possible. Point is if you can mount the fire extinguisher it's always the better option as you always know where it is, is quick to grab in an emergency, etc. Think of this let's say there is a fire on another boat and you tell someone to go grab your FX if they have to dig through your gear to find it valuable seconds are lost in putting out a boat fire that can consume a boat very quickly. So if you can mount it, mount it, again in a very visible location.

IV. Anchor and Line is another option to look at. The new small anchors available for small boats can be carried easily on kayaks, sail yaks, and any small sailboat. An example of where an anchor is required on small sailboats is during distance races, it's always required, but there not required on recreational sailboat under 26 feet. It can be very difficult to carry for example an anchor on a 16 foot catamaran where there is no storage space, but if you are aboard a small monohull with cubby storage then of course carry a small anchor, and if one is sailing a keelboat or cruising multihull of course carry an anchor. Another thing to consider is anchor line length? How much line should one have depends on the depth of where you sail. One lake I regularly sail on the depth of the lake is 1500 ft and many areas of the lake are 400 feet or deeper. Obvious I can not carry enough line for those depths but what I do look at is the depths of the bays and inlets where I might potentially anchor and then base what I need from that. Most sailors carry at least a minimum of 100 feet of line, for me on my trailer-able keelboat it is 300 feet. Honestly pulling 300 feet of line in is quite a chore, so if over 300 feet you might water a crew member to take turns with you pulling it up. Not only can the line be heavy but the anchor and chain of course add more weight. The line does need to include a chain unless for a kayak or lightweight sailboat where the anchor is only used for safety and not long term anchoring. If you are sail yaking/kayaking in a river then a minimum line length of 50 can work, however 100 feet is always a good starting point. If you follow the scope anchoring rule of 7 to 1, that is for every 10 feet of water depth you need 70 feet of line one can see how quickly the length needed will increase quite rapidly. On my keelboat I keep my anchor with 300 feet of line in a bucket. One wants to make sure the anchor line is always kept in a way it's ready to go and not tangled (I will be doing an article and video about this shortly). So if you have room for an anchor and line why not have it on board.

V. First Aid Kits are not required equipment on recreational sailboats of 26 feet and under, but honestly is there any question of the need for a first aid kit on board? One can purchase a sealed, water resistant First Aid Kit at almost any outdoor store (FunToSAIL sells them on their online store). If your boat is really small with limited storage you can take two zip lock bags (use two to insure a water tight storage) and make a small first aid kit. Regardless have a first aid kit on board.

VI. Inland Visual distress Signals ?????????????

VII. Capacity/Certificate of Compliance is posted on most if not all new small sailboats. It is noted on the small sailboat safety check form to emphasize the need to meet the boats capacity and other requirements. Typiciall on the stern of a sailboat on the hull side or cockpit side one will see a plate or sticker indicating the boats compliance notes and weight and/or adult persons on board capacity limits. The greater of either (weight or persons on board) needs to be met. If one has 10 adults on board and the capacity plate indicates only 6 people then one is way over capacity, however if the boats has a 1000 lb weight limit and gear and persons combined weight is 1200 lbs then one is not meeting the capacity in spite of only have 5 persons on board but the capacity plate indicates 6 people. Capacity plates normally indicate person on board as an adult so if you have a baby on board they do not fit into the adult person count but do fit into the weight capacity total.

VIII. Discussion Items: as applies is a part of the form that a safety boat inspector would discuss with you. The Small Sailboat Safety Check form has points to discuss from A-I. Lets discuss here each one in general terms...
a. Accident Report. Owner Responsible. You should always have an accident report form on board because if one is involved in a boating accident no matter whose fault is its the owner/skipper of the boat is responsible to report it. An accident report helps to get all the needed info recorded. Various states have rules that indicate when damage and/or injury is to be reports, for example if there is $1000 or $2000, etc. in boat damage or their is injury to a person or persons then one must report it. First off most off most of us are not good an determining how much it would cost to fix damage as a small scratch in a gel coat can cost a lot. Also what is considered injury? A scrape on the hand or small cut, or more. The reality is accidents should be reported as you never know when a affected party may come back later to accuse one of wrongly acts. Click on the pic to get an accident report form.
b. Offshore Operations/PIW. ??????????????????????
c. Navigation Charts/Nav. Aids and Rules/Tides. This an important aspect of sailing that unfortunately is far to often overlooked. Navigation Charts (maps) can show you hazards, channels of safe navigation, etc. Without them one is basically blind to what is under the water. Some small lakes may not have charts so utilizing local knowledge is beneficial such as talking to boaters or owners of marinas, etc. Charts also show navigation aids that show channels, danger areas, and so on. Knowing what these aids means is paramount. One can got to to learn them. Finally knowing tides if you are on coastal waters will keep you from running aground, etc. Not just coastal waters but also reservoirs where water levels can vary greatly, and dams can draw down the water rather quickly. So being aware of this also can make or break your boating experience. Nav. book
d. Survival Tips/First Aid. Like with any outdoor activity you should know how to surve if your boat capsizes or sinks, etc. How to survive with cold water. And deal with cuts, broken bones, and worst. So take a first aid class or better outdoor survival course. Being prepared can be the difference between life and death.
e. Float Plan/Weather and Sea Conditions. A Float Plan is a form you fill out to inform someone where you will be sailing, how long one expect to be gone, and so on. Always, Always give your float plan to someone reliable, do not hang it somewhere where no one will see it. If you do not come home on time the person you gave it to can inform the authorities. Also be aware where you will be sailing, what are the water condition like, lots of waves, etc. What is the weather expected to be like for the time you will be gone? Check the weather at or Also this is the reason to have a VHF radio as the weather is updated every 30 minutes.
f. Boat Check List and Insurance. Your boat Check List can be rather long. It can include spare parts you need, making sure your have charged batteries in your flashlights, VHF radio is charged, and so on. Maybe have a couple extra wires that hold up your mast, or shear pins for your outboard motor. The list can be long depending on your boat, boats with few parts need few spare parts, on the other hand more complex boats need more spare parts. Whether you need insurance is another matter. Always better to have it particularly if there is an accident.
g. Sailing Safe Boating Class and Information Sites. You should always take a Sailing class Class and a Safe Boating Class as its the best way to learn to sail safely and learn the rules of the waterways, etc. Taking such a class can help you learn all that we are discussing here. Visit this link to learn more
h. Navigation Rules. Again navigation rules are emphasize here noting the importance of knowing them. You should not drive a car without knowing the rules of the road and so why would you not know the navigation rules.
i. Pollution, MARPOL (Marine Pollution) Trash Placard. Sailing is truly one of the most environmentally sound ways to access the water, particularly those sailboats with no motor or with an electric motor. Sailing is truly green. One can get a MARPOL sticker that is a good reminder of how to keep the worlds waters clean. For us small boat sailors it means we can not discharge anything within 3 miles of shore. On Inland Waters discharge of garbage or anything is not allowed no matter the distance from shore. Keeping your boat free of garbage and Invasive Species in paramount in our efforts to take care of our environment. Never throw trash or let fuel in the water. 

Put all your stuff in a bag.

Miles need to add a day signal flag to part 1 and get a pic.
Miles add the word Sailing to g. Safe Boating Class and Information Sites. Need to emphasize sailing classes.
Miles add Invasive Species to the i. Pollution, MARPOL Placard.
Miles remove h. Navgiation Rules.

If you trailer a lot to different states I recommend not carrying a flare gun as in some states they are seen as a firearm such as in California and New York. Canada is a country that has his restriction. So I chose not to carry one so I do not by accident carry one into a state that is anti-gun, anti 1st Amendment.

(be advise the requirements my change and FunToSAIL nor I take responsibility for lack of info or needed in requipment you have on board)


Basically you need (1) proof of registration on-board; (2.)A type 4 throw-able device/cushion; if you put a gas motor on your boat (motor mount is installed) you will need a (3) Type 1 fire extinguisher (always a good idea to have one on board if you need to assist anyone that is having a fire); (4) The only life jacket(s) you need on board is for anyone under 12 years old, of course it's always a good idea to have them on board for anyone no matter their age; (5) Have a whistle for a sounding device, and a (6) signaling mirror and (7) flashlight to meet all day and night requirements. If your boat was 16 feet or under then you would not need a couple of items on this list but your boat is 17 feet long. Once you have these items I can put an official US Coast Guard sticker on the boat indicating its up to federal and state requirements. Also I can get you all the needed items and email you an invoice.

You can see an article I wrote about this on my website/blog at this link

Fire Extinguishers are only needed when you have gas on board for an outboard motor or stove, etc. Keeping a small Type I or Type II on board (depending on how much room you have) is a great idea because even if you do not have a fire on your boat you may come upon a fire on another boats, and being a good samaritan in putting out a fire out always makes for a good day. I always lean toward a Type II because it's a little bigger giving one more time to put out a fire, and even then it only gives you a few seconds of chemical to put out a fire.

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