Country-specific regulations for distress equipment

Country-specific regulations for distress equipment

According to the See-Sportbootverordnung (SeeSpootbV), a sports boat is a watercraft with or without a machine drive that

  • built for sports and recreation purposes and

  • used solely for sporting or recreational purposes or for training in the use of pleasure craft, and

  • which is approved for no more than twelve people plus the driver and crew.

This also includes sports boats that are rented without a boatman (bareboat).

Entrepreneurs who hire out their pleasure craft or personal watercraft without a skipper or crew ("bareboat") at sea for a fee must apply for a boat license from the competent waterways and shipping authority.

Recreational boat owners must also enter their pleasure craft at sea with a hull length of 15 m or more in a German seagoing ship register .

A sports boat that is used at sea for a fee with the provision of a boatman or crew is used commercially. Commercially used sports boats require a safety certificate and a safe manning certificate.

The safety requirements for commercially used sports boats with a hull length of 8 m to 24 m are based on the guideline on safety regulations for sports craft used commercially for training purposes according to § 52a SchSV old version (cf. § 14 sentence 2 of the See-Sportbootverordnung). Further information can be obtained from the ship safety department of BG Verkehr.

​When participating in offshore regattas, the regatta regulations usually stipulate their own rules as to how the participating boats must be equipped with safety equipment. The so-called Offshore Special Regulations of the World Sailing Association are almost always used, which list the safety equipment in detail in Articles 4 and 5.

​There are no special regulations for equipping pleasure boats with safety equipment. Only the specifications of the international collision prevention rules for navigation lights and sound systems have to be observed. There is no obligation to carry a life raft on board. However, the rules of good seamanship and the Association for Sea Rescue Equipment (FSR) make clear equipment recommendations.

​​If you sail under the German flag, the equipment regulations that apply in Germany apply, regardless of the cruising area. If you drive abroad under the national flag, you must observe the national regulations.

​For pleasure craft registered in the Netherlands

When navigating Dutch waters, you must carry the current traffic regulations for Dutch waters with you. These regulations are summarized in the current Wateralmanak Part 1 published by the ANWB. These do not apply to small, open boats. The rules and regulations for Dutch waters can be found on be downloaded.

The following emergency equipment for fast boats is mandatory :

  • For fast boats: unconscious life jackets for every passenger. These vests must be easy to get hold of. If the skipper is at the helm, he must wear a life jacket

Here , too, there is no obligation to equip yourself with a life raft in the Dutch sea area.

​For pleasure craft registered in Croatia

​According to Croatian law, all vessels longer than 2.5 m or vessels with an engine power of more than 5 kW must be registered in the boat register. The ships are entered in the register by the harbor master's office or its branch.

First you need to know the category of your ship. There are two main categories of vessels flying the Croatian flag:

Boat: A boat is a ship more than 2.5 m and 12 m in length or with a total capacity of propulsion machinery of more than 5 kW.

The ship can be registered with any port authority and especially any branch and given the port offices label and a number if used for private purposes. The ships for commercial purposes are numbered first and then have the marking of the port offices.

The technical inspection for boats up to 5m is only obligatory for the initial registration and for vessels larger than 5m every 5 years and is usually carried out by the port captain. Only the ships for commercial purposes are regulated by different time intervals of technical inspection (every two years).

Yacht: Yacht is a vessel for pleasure, whether for personal purposes or for economic purposes, more than 12 meters in length and for longer voyages. Registration of a yacht can only be done at the Port Authority. The technical inspection of the yacht is carried out by the Croatian Shipping Register. For commercial yachts this is once a year and for sports and entertainment it is every five years.

The following minimum sea equipment is required:

  • Life jackets for everyone on board

  • First aid kit

  • Light, Flare (International Regulations for the Prevention of Collisions at Sea)

  • bugle

  • Waterproof flashlight

In addition, yachts over 12 meters in length must carry the following seagoing equipment if they are in Croatian waters with a maximum distance of 12 nm from the coast:

  • Liferaft ISO 9650-1, Pack 2

  • Lifebuoy with buoyant line and signal light

  • Children's life jacket for every child on board

  • 6 hand flares

  • 2 buoyant smoke signals

  • 2 cold protection suits

  • Instructions for use near the rescue equipment

  • A copy of the distress signal board

  • Two safety lines (only for sailboats)

For pleasure craft registered in France

In France, a new regulation (Division 240) has been in force since June 1, 2019 with regard to the equipment of pleasure boats with sea rescue equipment. A distinction is made between different territorial zones:

  • < 2 nautical miles

  • from 2 to 6 nautical miles

  • from 6 to 60 nautical miles

  • > 60 nautical miles

For pleasure craft registered in Spain

Compulsory survival and safety equipment applies to pleasure craft (list 7) ​​from 2.5 m to 24 m hull length and is determined by the boat's navigation area (Regulation FOM/1144/2003 modified by Regulation FOM/1076/2006).

Liferafts must be serviced by a manufacturer-authorized service station every year from the date of manufacture, with the exception of the first service on a new liferaft, which only requires service after the first two years.

SOLAS-approved life rafts must be equipped with emergency equipment according to SOLAS Pack A in zone 1 and with emergency equipment according to SOLAS Pack B in zones 2 and 3.

In principle, all prescribed life rafts must be subjected to a conformity check by the responsible authority. The authority then grants approval for a specific period.

For pleasure craft registered in Italy

The liferaft must have an Italian approval. Maintenance must always be carried out every 2 years by maintenance stations, which must be authorized by the manufacturer. The only exception: the first maintenance of the life raft Coastal only has to be carried out after three years.

For sports boats registered in Switzerland

Oceangoing yachts flying the Swiss flag must have the following emergency equipment:

• Device for locating and rescuing people who have fallen overboard.

• three red automatic hand flares, three parachute distress flares, two smoke signals.

• a signaling mirror.

• one or more inflatable life rafts with a total capacity for all persons on board and depending on the type of navigation, according to ISO 9650-1 (24h+); the liferaft must be easily accessible.

• One life jacket per person with at least 150N.

• One life belt and one safety belt per person (possibly combined with a life jacket).

• One waterproof lamp per person.

• a device to enable a person in the water to climb back on board.

• Fixed or portable lighting for searching and locating a person in the sea (at night).

• On-board pharmacy with instructions.

• Flags N and C.

For pleasure craft registered in Portugal

In Portugal, the so-called Decreto Lei no. 93/2018 the regulations for the equipment of pleasure boats with sea rescue equipment.

Regulation 1464/2002 regulates in detail the requirements regarding the equipment with sea rescue equipment.

For UK registered pleasure craft

There are no legal requirements for sea rescue equipment for pleasure craft with a length of less than 13.7 meters. Although safety equipment is not a legal requirement, it is important that you equip your boat to deal with any emergency situation.

For sports boats with a hull length of 13.7 m to 24.0 m, the following regulation applies with regard to sea rescue equipment, depending on the distance from the coast according to the table below:

Additional equipment requirements apply to recreational craft of 24m or more, provided they are carrying no more than 14 people.