Are flares still neccesary?

The RYA has issued new advice on carrying flares, which suggests they may have been superseded by technologically advanced alternatives.

Stuart Carruthers, RYA Cruising Manager, said the RYA is ‘not saying don’t carry flares’, but ‘you might not need to carry as many as previously recommended’.

The coastguard no longer maintains a visual watch around the coast and more people have been injured by rockets and flares than have been rescued.

Flares contain explosive material and people often have trouble deploying them, especially as practicing using them is illegal.

Mr Carruthers said: ‘Our revised guidance will allow boaters to make informed decisions about the types of equipment they choose to carry.

‘Think about what you want on board as you may prefer other methods for alerting attention.

‘EPIRBs and VHF DSC are both reliable alternative alerting methods to the use of parachute flares to indicate distress, however the alternatives to flares for pinpointing vessels in need of assistance are less reliable, therefore flares remain the recommended means for location in the final mile for the time being.’

The new guidelines, for skippers of pleasure craft under 13.7m in length, provide information on the combinations of equipment you could consider carrying and using depending on the type of vessel and where it is used.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has agreed to trial some new alternative equipment, such as laser flares, and will review regulations for vessels over 13.7 metres and the carriage requirements in small vessel codes.

Full details of the new guidelines can be found at