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Minimum Equipment for Offshore Yachts

(New Regulations from Australian Sailing)

Australian Sailing Special Regulations had its genesis from the clubs that were running offshore races who saw a need to quantify the minimum equipment an offshore cruising yacht should have so that weight conscious racing types would not compromise safety or habitability of yachts competing. As such the regulations are a really good guideline for those sailing offshore even if one is not racing. Australian Sailing sit down for a rewrite of the regulations every 4 years and the new regulations for 2017 – 2021 have just been published and can be downloaded here.

For those sailors who have previously complied with the regulations the question is what has changed in terms of in respect of equipment necessary compared with the previous edition.

There are a number of places in the regulations that require the length of the boat to be assessed. The length used to be LOA that was never tightly defined. Now the regulations refer to hull length LH which is defined as: “The longitudinal distance between the aftermost point and the foremost point on the hull(s), excluding fittings” and more closely aligns with measurements that might appear on a measurement certificate. If your yacht has a length near to changeover spots it will be worth look to see if this will make a difference to things like anchor specifications and handrail wire diameters.


anchor tackle table

There is a change to the amount of emergency drinking water carried from a fixed amount of 9 litres to 1 litre per crew member, so for big boats more will be required and small boats less.

An old fashioned magnetic compass is no longer required for Cat 5 yachts but care should be taken because state law may require one for the waters one is sailing in.

There are some interesting changes in the marine radio department. The permanently installed HF and VHF marine radios that are Digital Selective Calling (DSC) capable are required to be connected to a GPS and programmed with the yachts MMSI. This is a big subject that will be the subject of a future blog. It is wise to have the VHF antenna at the top of the mast as the signal is line of sight the higher the antenna the greater the range. The old regulations permitted a deck mounted VHF for boats with a mast height of less than 11m but this is no longer permitted for Category 1 to 3 yachts.

There is a new requirement for a watertight high powered spot light in addition to torches for category 1 to 3 yachts. We will make a separate blog in the near future testing and critiquing the units available.

There are some changes to the Cat 1 and Cat 2 medical kit. We are sure that medical kits are scrutinized regularly to deal with expired items so that is the time to pick up the new requirements.

There has always been a requirement to carry a printed copy of the Racing Rules of Sailing (RRS) and the International Rules for the Prevention of Collision at Sea (IRPCS) and now yachts can carry those as electronic copies. One can download the RRS here and the IRPCS here.

Yacht GPS / Nav systems are now required to have a Man Over Board (MOB) function. Most units sold in the last 5 years have this function but those with older systems may have to upgrade in some way. There is also a requirement that the system needs to be activated within 10 seconds of the MOB call. The safety auditors may interpret this as requiring operation from on deck.

There are changes to liferaft regulations making rafts built to old ISAF standards less attractive and liferafts built to ISO standards more attractive (less servicing required).

There are some changes for storm sails that might effect a yacht owners decisions if buying new sails which will comment on in a separate blog but if your yacht complied with the old rules it will comply with the new rules.

The orange distress sheets are no longer required for Cat 5 and 6 yachts under the Australian Sailing regulations but again caution is needed when moving from one state to another, as local rules may require them.



red anchor