Security equipment for small sailboats - The checklist

Security equipment for small sailboats - The checklist

Pro Tips
Key points
  • 50N vest, Cyalume, towing rope!
  • The compulsory armament is a coherent list, made by sailors and rescuers. It should not be seen as a constraint but as an essential element of safety.
This article, updated in August 2021, is a summary of Division 240. It is the official text available on the website of the Ministry of the Sea.

What the regulations say

Types of vessels

The Reverso Air is in the category of boats propelled by human energy except for beach craft.

La notion de distance par rapport à la côte

The regulations provide for 3 scenarios to establish the list of mandatory equipment.
  • - 300m from the coast: no equipment required
  • from 300m to 2NM, "basic specific" armament, see below.
  • De 2NM à 6NM, (déconseillé de s'éloigner autant en dériveur) armement "côtier spécifique"
We will focus on the intermediate category, from 300m to 2NM from the coast.
To visualize it simply, the 300m band is materialized by yellow buoys on the beaches in summer, and 1 nautical mile (1NM) corresponds to 1852 meters, so 2NM correspond to more than three kilometers from the coast.

From 300m to 2 Nautical Miles (2NM), the mandatory equipment is

1 _ The life jacket

Lifejacket, also known as a PFD: personal flotation device. See our complete guide: life jacket, the définitive guide for small boat sailing
Zhik PFD Life Jacket. For more information, see our complete guide: life jacket, the définitive guide for small boat sailing

2_ Lighting device

The challenge is to locate a sailor at night in case of air or sea searches. LThe lighting device must be "waterproof and have a battery life of at least 6 hours". It can be a flashlight, torch or cyalume.
Tip: Attach the cyalume to a small rope 50-80cm long. If one day you have to report to a plane, helicopter or boat at night, rotate the cyalume in a circle over your head.

3_ Towing rope.

Recommended length: 10m, made of polypropylene (because it floats, so as not to get caught in the propeller of the towing boat).
Plan in advance where you are going to attach this end! On the Reverso, it is planned, it is attached via a bowline to the end that connects the two front chainplates, (on the end on which the cunningham is clipped)
LThe bowline should connect this end in front of the mast.
If you have to be towed, remove the daggerboard (place it over the daggerboard well to divert the water spray). Position yourself aft, centered, and follow the wake with the helm (preferably at the tiller, i.e. by grabbing the tiller directly, not the extension

4_ A way to know the tide times (optional in the Mediterranean)

It is difficult to take a tide almanac with you on a small sailboat, you just have to remember the time of the next high or low tide. We can deduce when we are because the interval between a high and low tide is 6h12.

Other requirements (not applicable to the Reverso Air)

Scooping device for non self-bailing vessels
Fire extinguisher
Mooring line

Equipment that is not mandatory but really useful.

Hand paddle

This paddle is very practical for lake sailing, like in Switzerland, where the wind can be capricious and changeable and for areas where you may encounter strong currents, without wind.
The one-handed paddle, optiparts model
On Adrian's Reverso Air (Zurich 🇨🇭) the hand paddle (in gray in this photo) is secured to the front of the boat, ideally with an elastic bungee cord, which allows you to row while keeping it attached.

A spare small rope

You can fix (almost) anything with a rope. Essential. Length: 1m, diameter: 5mm

A knife

A knife can be used to cut a mooring line, a fishing net in which one is stuck, to make a makeshift rigging.
The Wichard offshore rescue model (65€) is very nice with its case that can be fixed anywhere. (to keep with you rather than on the boat in dinghy)
We also appreciate the outdoor model of Opinel which is equipped with a whistle on the handle.

A waterproof watch

You can forget the time on a boat, you disconnect completely. The watch is a navigation instrument in its own right. It can be useful not to worry your relatives, to come back before the night, a tide... or a curfew.
Waterproof surf watch Nixon Regulus
We wish you some memorable and safe outings !