FYI RYA Press release - 23 June 03
SOLAS V celebrates it's first birthday – are you up to speed?
Following extensive consultations with the RYA a reduced number of regulations from Chapter 5 of the International Convention of the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) were applied to recreational boat users on 1 July 2002. The SOLAS regulations have now been in force for nearly a year but it is as important as ever that they are conformed to and understood.
The regulations that apply to recreational boat users are clearly laid out, easy to conform to and, most importantly, represent good seamanship. Covering the areas of passage planning, lifesaving signals, radar reflectors and assistance to other vessels, most boaters meet the regulations through common sense. However there are a few additional items that need to be kept on board and points that should be noted.
Regulation V/34 is entitled ‘Safe navigation and avoidance of dangerous situations’ and concerns (passage) voyage planning. Most boaters already research and familiarise themselves with the following SOLAS requirements before venturing out of port.
· Weather – check the forecast and get regular updates when making long voyages. MetMaps are now available to download from the RYA website, www.rya.org.uk.
· Tides – check the tidal predictions are suitable for the proposed trip
· Limitations of the vessel – is the boat suitable for the trip? Is there sufficient safety equipment and stores on board?
· Crew – check the experience and physical ability of the crew. Be aware of their capabilities.
· Navigational dangers – make sure that any charts, pilot books or almanacs are up to date to ensure that they cover any navigational dangers you may encounter
· Contingency plan – consider what to do if things go wrong. Make a note of places of refuge that are easy to get to. Do not become over reliant on GPS, if it fails make sure that you can navigate your way to a safe haven with out it.
· Information ashore – Ensure someone ashore knows where you are going and what to do should they become concerned.
Regulation V/19 covers the fitting of a radar reflector, if practicable. It is important to note that if the radar reflector is not actually ‘fitted’ it must still be carried onboard. It is imperative that the chances of the boat being seen by radar are improved. If a boat is more than 15 metres in length a radar reflector that meets the IMO requirements of ten metre squared should be fitted. If less than 15 metres the boat is required to be fitted with the largest radar reflector possible.
Regulation V/29 regards life saving signals. SOLAS states that an illustrated table of the recognised life saving signals should be carried on board. This table should be easily accessible and is available in the RYA Boat Safety Handbook, as a leaflet from the MCA or in almanacs.
Regulations V/31, V/32 and V/33 concern assistance to other craft. The Coastguard and any other vessels must be informed if you encounter anything that could cause a serious hazard to navigation. They must be notified by VHF or by telephone at the earliest opportunity. Any distress signal must be responded to as best as best you can.
Regulation V/35 prohibits the misuse of any distress signals.
Steve Johnson RYA Cruising Manager commented ‘Conforming to SOLAS regulations is extremely important. In addition to good seamanship, recreational boaters need to be aware that failing to comply is breaking the law. It could affect their insurance and they could even be prosecuted following an incident if they are found to have not complied. If you have any questions about SOLAS you can ask the RYA by calling 0845 345 0370 or by looking at our frequently asked questions section on the website www.rya.org.uk.’