The enthusiasm for navigation and the desire for adventure should never make you forget prudence and caution. In case of emergency, you need to deal with the specific situation and, if necessary, call for help.
So, before setting sail, make sure you have the appropriate safety equipment on board, both to prevent and to intervene in the event of accidents, ensuring your passengers’ safety.
In this regard, Italian boating regulations impose some obligations regarding equipment on board. However, by registering your boat in another country, you can take advantage of foreign laws that set more flexible obligations. In particular, Belgium gives the shipowners a broader scope to equip the boat safely.
Apart from normative references, you should anyway carry life jackets and ring lifebuoys with ropes, as well as anchor and mooring ropes.
As far as the Italian legislation is concerned, the safety equipment you are required to carry depends on the distance from the coast.
Within 3 miles, you have to get the following equipment:
- A floating smoke signal and two red hand flares, to send distress signal even daytime;
- Acoustic signalling devices (a simple whistle for boats up to 12 m hull length, a bell for larger vessels);
- Regulatory headlights if operating at between sunset and sunrise, or 360-degree torches for daytime navigation.
In addition to this equipment, you are required to carry ring lifebuoys (at least one) and life jackets (one per person onboard).
From 3 to 6 miles from the coast, you have to enhance the equipment with additional signalling devices, namely a floating rescue light for night-time distress signals, a second floating smoke signal, and two parachute flares. These devices allow you to launch a light distress signal that reaches 300 meters above the water, and thus it significantly increases the visibility of the signal offshore.
From 6 to 12 miles, you need also:
- A coastal inflatable life raft;
- A compass and compass deviation tables;
- A VHF radio, to communicate with other boats or marine rescue groups, and the Radio Operator’s License.
From 12 to 50 miles, you are required to add:
- A raft for oceanic navigation, instead of a coastal raft;
- Additional hand flares and parachute flares;
- Compass, barometer, binoculars and nautical charts;
- A first aid kit approved by the Minister of Health;
- A radio-positioning satellite and a radar reflector.
Over 50 miles, you are obliged to carry the Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB), a small electronic device that, when activated in an emergency, can help search and rescue authorities pinpoint your position.
Finally, EU legislation states that new-build boats must bear the CE Marking to be put onto the market in the European Union. The CE Mark is based on fundamental aspects, among which the health and safety of passengers, and impose specific systems, to intervene in case of fire or leakiness. For boats without CE Marking, it is necessary to carry fire extinguishers and pumps on board.
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