If you own a New Zealand registered yacht and are planning on sailing it offshore, you need to comply with the Yachting NZ Category 1 safety regulations.
As NZ is many hundreds of miles from any other countries, these safety regulations mean that boats are seaworthy and equipped with all the gear needed to make an offshore passage.
Internationally registered yachts are exempt from this requirement, and they can leave without this inspection.
There is also Category 2 – which after you clear out of the country Category 1 status reverts to Category 2, and there is also Cat 3, 4 and 5 for shorter coastal trips and sailing around the harbour.
The inspection needs to be done while the yacht is out of the water, and once it has been done it lasts for a month – so you need to get the inspection done just before you plan on heading overseas. This means that you need to be pretty well prepared before the inspection to avoid any surprises which could delay intended your departure date.
There are heaps of things that need to be checked, from the structure and stability of the yacht, right down to the equipment held on board. You can download the rules here:
I have noted some of the major points below. There are also some structural standard requirements as well. Modern boats are made to CE ratings. You want category A for ocean going vessels.
Having the original design plans can be handy as can any stability reports.
- Steering – the rudder will be checked for strength, there must be an emergency steering facility, and any alternative steering methods need to be demonstrated by the crew
- Keel – documents and designs of the keel could be requested, the keelbolts should be accessible and able to be inspected and tightened
- Decks – there are lots of structural things that will be checked in regards to the deck.
- Cockpit and Companionway – Washboards should be able to be secured in position with the hatch open or shut, and secured to the yacht with a lanyard to prevent loss overboard. The hatch should have a strong securing lock which is operable from above or below. Cockpits should be self draining – and there are also more structural things that will be checked.
- Hull – the designer plans are useful here and again lots of structural checks will be performed.
- Flood Protection – the hull should be able to be made in to a water tight unit, hatches should be of adequate strength and able to be opened as an emergency exit, there should be bilge pumps in appropriate areas as well as two manually operated pumps which can be operated from outside. The bilge pump handle must have a lanyard. You must also have four sturdy buckets with a lanyard and 9ltrs capacity
- Mast Step & Chain Plates – the mast must be adequately stepped, preferrably spanning several floors, chain plates must be through bolted, the anchor fairlead must be low chafe, there should be a water tight mast collar.
- Masts, Spars, Rigging & Sails – Rigging should be to appropriate specs, shackles should have split pins, yachts with self furling sails shall have a separate means of setting a trysail and storm jib. Masts should have at least two halyards, bulldog clips for emergency repairs or non-stretch rope should be carried. You should have tools able to sever standing rigging from the hull – axe, hacksaw and 10 blades, hammer & drift, bolt cutters, Bosuns chair. Storm sails should be orange – one trysail and a separate trysail track with a spare main halyard. One storm jib and a heavy weather jib. A reef in the main of at least 50%, and a sail repair kit.
- Accommodation – ability to exit due to a fire in the galley or engine, toilet, bunks and lee cloths, ventilation, stove with safe fuel shut off valve, gas installed by a registered fitter, turn gas off at the bottle sign, galley facilities including a sink, water tanks and the ability to divide in to two separate containers, stored water of at least 2l per person per day for the duration of the voyage, ballast and heavy equipment stowed, yachts name on life jackets, harnesses and life buoys, LPG locker with vapor proof barrier and marked accordingly – just for use of LPG.
- Safety Systems and Equipment – three fire extinguishers – serviced and tested, fire blanket, lifejackets for all crew with light attached, splash hood, crotch strap & whistle, harness and jacklines for all crew – double clipped, names on harnesses and no longer than 2m, 3 hook tethers to be carried for at least 1/3 of the crew. survival suit or thermotic floation clothing recommended. Life raft capable of carrying entire crew – stowed on deck, painter attached to a substantion through bolted fitting and certificate of service. At least one life buoy marked with yacht name and fitted with drogue, pealess whistle, and self igniting light, one additional life buoy with drogue, pealess whistle, light, dye marker or pole with flag, heaving line – brightly coloured line with float at one end. Emergency knife in cockpit, axe, second emergency knife.
- Medical kit and Marine Medic training for at least 50% of the crew.
- Safety rails – handrails on deck, life lines and staunchions of a specific height, jack stays, toe rails, 2 x anchors with chain at least the length of the yacht and 60m of extra rope or chain, a second cable of 6m chain and 40m of rope or chain ready for use at any time and securely fastened.
- Sea Anchor or drogue or another device.
- Communications – SSB radio, VHF installed radio, VHF handheld waterproof radio, radio for weather bulletins, additional radio for grab bag, EPIRB 406 with GPS installed, Flares, spotlight and two torches – one must be floating and waterproof with spare batteries and bulbs. Compass installed with deviation card, hand bearing or spare compass, NZ Almanac, charts of area to be sailed, plotting equipment, cruising guide or sailing directions, tide tables, GPS and operating instructions, mounted and back up GPS. Sextant, table and ability to use, depth sounder, log, radar is recommended, barometer, radar reflector, radar target enhancer, AIS, navigation lights, emergency navigation lights, fog horn, yacht safety diagram
- Engineering system – refer to the booklet – batteries should be secured in boxes, fuel storage shut off valve, and sea cocks with plugs attached.
- Crew Skills – they need to demonstrate the ability to operate all equipment on board, and show knowledge of weather patterns and conditions, knowledge of collision rules, buoyage, rigging and cordage, boat stability, handling, survival at sea, handling emergencies, crew management, knowledge of navigation, operation of fire extinguishers, man overboard, storm sails, use of flares, use of radio, EPIRB, location and usage of life jackets and harnesses, location of grab bag, stowage and deployment of the liferaft and abandon ship procedures.
- Sail numbers and name – should be displayed on the hull and sail number on the main at least. Portable sail number in black figures on air/sea orange background 2m x 1m, V sheet indicating assistance required and yachts name on all floating items.
Yachtmail Chandlery have got a fantastic range of boating safety equipment on their online shop.
So download the rule book and start checking off the things on your safety list. Get in touch with the inspector early and make contact with them to book your inspection. Perhaps they might be able to offer some advice on how to prepare your boat before the inspection is done.
If you have had a Cat 1 inspection done on your yacht, please let me know how you got on and share any tips in the comments section below.