Compare your safety gear with what's required to join the ARC

In the February 2006 issue of YM, Miles Kendall looks at the range of crews who crossed the Atlantic with the ARC. He also lists some of the common safety failures found by the event’s scrutineers.

Below, courtesy of the World Cruising Club, organisers of the ARC and YM Rally Portugal, are the safety equipment requirements for ARC entrants.


The following safety equipment requirements have been drawn up to ensure the minimum level of safety for yachts participating in World Cruising Club Events. The ISAF Offshore Special Regulations have been used as a guideline to compile these regulations.

Divisions II (Racing) and VIII Invitation Racing are ISAF Offshore Special Regulations for Category 1 and these Safety Equipment Requirements.

These safety equipment requirements do not override any greater safety requirement demanded by the yacht’s national, or flag country, maritime authorities or appropriate regulatory bodies.

Yacht owners considering taking fare paying guests or crew should consider the implication in relation to their national or flag regulations as required by the appropriate proper authorities.

The regulations are in two sections:

Section One – Mandatory Safety Equipment Requirements.

This equipment must be carried and all items will be sighted during the safety equipment inspection prior to the start. Failure to comply may lead to disqualification from the Rally.

Section Two – Recommended Safety Equipment.

Whilst equipment in this section is not mandatory the organisers strongly suggest that all the recommendations in this section are complied with. The Safety Equipment Officer will be available to discuss points made in this section during his inspection.


It is the entire sole and inescapable responsibility of each skipper to ensure that all necessary safety precautions whatsoever are taken in respect of himself the crew and the yacht.

All safety equipment that requires regular servicing must be in date, at the start of the Rally, and remain in date for the duration of the Rally. (The Test Certificate for the liferaft will be inspected during the Safety Equipment Inspection).

All safety equipment carried must:
a. be of type, size and capacity commensurate with the size of yacht
b. function correctly
c. be easily accessible

Each crew member must be fully conversant with the operation of all safety equipment carried and know its stowage positions.


A purpose made, self inflating, liferaft of sufficient places to carry all the crew shall be either:

i.) A SOLAS model, or

ii.) An “ORC” model in compliance with ISAF Offshore Special Regulations Appendix A Part I provided that the liferaft was manufactured before 01/2003, or

iii.) An “ISAF” model in compliance with ISAF Offshore Special Regulations Appendix A Part II, or
iv) An “ISO Standard 9650” Type 1 Group A with service Pack 1 (>24 hours).

Each raft shall be capable of being got to the lifelines within 15 seconds. Each liferaft shall have a valid inspection certificate from the manufacturer or approved servicing agent, valid for the period of the Rally. The certificate, or a copy, shall be carried on the yacht.
(See ISAF website [] for the full text of the ISAF Offshore Special Regulations).

VHF: A VHF radio transceiver having a rated output power of 25W and capable of working on all standard international channels must be fitted. An external cockpit extension speaker should also be fitted to the set. The radio shall have a masthead antenna and an emergency antenna shall also be carried.

Long Range Communications Equipment: each yacht will be required to report their position daily directly to, via Inmarsat C, D , or other system capable of sending an E-mail message whilst at sea.

EPIRB: An Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon. A Satellite EPIRB transmitting on 406MHz or an Inmarsat type “E” EPIRB is required, correctly registered with the appropriate authority.

Radar Reflector: Permanently mounted in, or capable of being hoisted to, a position at least 5m (15 feet) above deck. Octahedral reflectors must have a minimum diagonal measurement of 18in (457mm). Any reflector other than octahedral, must have a documented RCS (radar cross-section) of not less than 10sq.m.

Flares: Flares stowed in a watertight container, with as a minimum:

6 red parachute flares
4 white hand held flares
4 red hand held flares
2 orange smoke

Lifebuoys, within reach of the helmsman for instant use:
1. One lifebuoy with a drogue, or a lifesling (without a drogue), with a self igniting light and whistle attached, and
2. One lifebuoy, or a MOB Module, equipped with a whistle, drogue, a self igniting light and a pole and flag (a danbuoy).

At least one lifebuoy shall either be a lifesling or have permanent (e.g. foam) buoyancy. Every inflatable lifebuoy shall be tested at intervals in accordance with its manufacturer’s instructions.
Each lifebuoy shall have the yachts’ name painted on them and must be fitted with marine grade retro-reflective material.

Bilge pumps: One manual bilge pump securely fitted, operable from on deck with companionways and hatches shut. (It is recommended that a second manual bilge pump, operable from below decks, is also fitted). Unless permanently fitted, bilge pump handles shall be provided with a lanyard, securely attached, and catch, or similar device, to prevent accidental loss.

Navigation lights: Navigation lights must be fitted so that the yacht shall, at all times, comply with the International Regulations for Preventing Collision at Sea. Two independent sets of navigation lights are required. For example, the primary set (bow and stern lights), the secondary set (masthead tricolour); flashlight/torch battery operated, handheld lights are not acceptable. Spare bulbs of correct wattage shall also be carried.

Harness: If separate from a combined lifejacket/harness, shall have a safety line not more than 2 metres long with a strap hook at each end. It is recommended that a second snap hook should be placed at the middle of the point line. Each harness shall have a crotch strap. There shall be a harness and safety line provided for each member of the crew.

Lifejacket/Combined Harness: Shall have a whistle, a light, yacht name, retro-reflective tape, a crotch strap and a safety line not more than 2 metres long with a snap hook at each end . It is recommended that a second snap hook should be placed at the middle point of the line. There shall be a lifejacket/combined harness provided for each member of the crew.

Heavy equipment: All heavy equipment (i.e. anchor, batteries, gas bottles and stoves) shall be firmly secured to prevent damage from possible knockdown or capsize.

The following equipment shall also be fitted/carried:

Emergency grab bag (see Appendix 1)
A recognised secondary or alternative method of navigation
Securely fitted taut double lifelines around the entire deck
Jackstays along port and starboard side decks
Fire extinguishers (at least two)
Fire blanket (secured near the galley)
Companionway washboards to be capable of being secured shut and with lanyards to prevent accidental loss
Softwood plugs – securely attached adjacent to each fitting to enable any through hull fitting to be closed off
Throwing line 15m – 25m (50ft – 75ft) length, readily accessible to cockpit
High powered search light
Emergency tiller or secondary steering device
Hacksaw and spare blades (Bolt croppers for yachts with rod rigging)
First aid kit and manual
Buckets (at least two) of stout construction and fitted with lanyards; capacity to be at least 2 gallons (9 litres)
Echo sounder and log


It is recommended that the following equipment be carried:

Dinghy and oars
Handheld VHF transceiver
Nautical almanac
Charts and pilots for the route taken by the Rally
Sextant and tables
Water resistant torch with spare bulb and batteries
Storm jib
Storm trisail or deep reef in mainsail
A second manual bilge pump operable from below deck
White parachute flares (to provide illumination for Search and Rescue)
Maststep. The heel of a keel-stepped mast should be securely fastened to the maststep or adjoining structure
Drogue or Sea Anchor. A drogue (for deployment over the stern), or alternatively a sea anchor, or parachute anchor (for deployment over the bow), is strongly recommended as a means to reduce the risk of capsize in heavy breaking seas

It is highly recommended that each person on board carries a knife at all times whilst at sea


The ORC recommends that a “grab bag” accompanies each liferaft. The following contents are recommended and should be appropriately packed and waterproofed (packing should be openable by wet fingers without tools):

second sea anchor and line
two safety tin openers
waterproof hand-held VHF transceiver
a first aid kit
one plastic drinking vessel graduated in 10, 20 and 50 cubic cm
two “Cyalume” sticks or two watertight floating lamps
one daylight signalling mirror and one signalling whistle
two red parachute flares and three red hand flares
non-thirst provoking rations and barley sugar or equivalent
at least half a litre per person of drinking water in a dedicated and sealed container
one copy of the illustrated table of life-saving signals
nylon string, polythene bags, seasickness tablets

Contents of the grab bag are not necessarily additional to the items required by the Safety Equipment Regulations – the grab bag offers a suitable place to stow items where they will be quickly found or readily carried to the liferaft.

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