Speed limits

Within the limits of the Rhu Narrows Restricted Channel; the Faslane Restricted Area; the Coulport Restricted Area and the Coulport Fishing Exclusion Zone, the speed of any vessel shall not exceed seven knots through the water unless a speed in excess of seven knots is essential for the safety of navigation.

Elsewhere within the dockyard port, no vessel shall exceed 12 knots through the water that includes Loch Goil and Loch Long south to a line between Cove and Blairmore..

Vaughan Marsh, Chief Instructor of the RYA Sail Cruising training scheme shares some tips for reefing downwind and reefing downwind, with and without a topping lift…

Reefing downwind

Yacht with reefed sail and yacht with reefed sail with topping lift

Sometimes when sailing downwind with a poled-out headsail, or even under spinnaker, you may wish to put in a reef whilst continuing in the direction of your destination.

As well as keeping you heading in the right direction this also reduces the apparent wind strength and therefore tends to be more comfortable.

This technique will allow you to take in a reef without the need to de-rig your pole and come up to windward in light to moderate winds.

Place the boat on a stable downwind heading typically with the wind fine on the windward quarter

  1. Release the boom vang
  2. Tension the topping lift, ensuring the boom is elevated a little at the outboard end
  3. Ease the preventor whilst tensioning the mainsheet, or if no preventor is fitted simply tension the mainsheet which will centre or blade the mainsail. This will have the effect of scandalising and depowering the mainsail
  4. Lower the main halyard until the reefing cringle is level with the ram’s horn – at the same time bring in the reefing line so that both the luff and leach are reduced in unison
  5. Attach the reefing cringle to the ram’s horn and re-tension the main halyard
  6. Continue to tension the reefing line until the sail is tightly bound to the boom – be aware there may be a need to ease the mainsheet a fraction to allow the sail to be reefed tight to the boom
  7. Ease the mainsheet to allow the mainsail to fall out to leeward
  8. Ease the topping lift
  9. Re-tension the boom vang as necessary
  10. Tidy up the lines
  11. If appropriate re-rig a preventer

Reefing with a topping lift

Yacht with reefed sail and yacht with reefed sail with topping lift

For your average cruising sailor this is a simple, safe and low stress method.

  1. Place the boat on a close reach with the headsail trimmed efficiently
  2. Ease the boom vang (kicking strap)
  3. Ease the mainsheet to depower the main
  4. Tension the topping lift, ensuring the boom is raised by an exaggerated amount above the horizontal (this is known as scandalising)
  5. Lower the main halyard until your reefing cringle is level with the boom gooseneck
  6. Attach the reefing cringle to the ram’s horn or reefing point at the gooseneck
  7. Re-tension the main halyard
  8. Tension the reefing line ensuring the sail is bound tightly to the boom – check to ensure the sail is not ‘pinched’ to the boom
  9. Ease the topping life then sheet in the main
  10. Re-tension the boom vang and tidy up tails of all the lines

Reefing without a topping lift

Where you are sailing on a boat without a topping lift or when your topping lift has been disconnected for some reason, this method will allow you to put in a reef safely.

  1. Place the boat on a close reach and trim your headsail efficiently
  2. Release the boom vang
  3. Ease the mainsheet right out so that the mainsail ‘floats’
  4. Lower the halyard until the appropriate reefing cringle is level with the ram’s horn at the gooseneck of the boom
  5. Attach the reefing cringle to the ram’s horn
  6. Re-tension the main halyard
  7. Tension the reefing line to the point where the sail is tightly bound against the boom, checking to make sure the sail is not ‘pinched’ between the reefing line and the boom
  8. Trim on with the mainsheet
  9. Re-tension the boom vang
  10. Tidy up lines and if necessary, tie up the ‘bunt of the sail’ with sail ties through the reefing cringles and around the foot of the sail

If your boat is less than 13.7 metres (45ft.) in length, there are no statutory requirements in the UK for safety equipment other than a radar reflector if it is possible to fit one. However, you would be mistaken to presume that because something isn’t legally required, you don’t need it but it is essential that you properly equip your boat prior to heading out onto the water.

Similarly, servicing of equipment for privately owned boats is not required by law, but you still need to check it regularly for wear and tear or damage and where applicable service it in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Wear your kill cord

Always, always, always use a kill cord when the engine is running. If your boat is not fitted with one, then get one fitted. If the driver becomes dislodged from the helm position then the engine will automatically stop. The kill cord is a red lanyard which has a quick-release fitting at one end which is attached to the engine or console and a clip at the other end attached to the driver preferably around the leg.

Always check that your kill cord works at the start of each day or session by starting the engine and pulling the kill cord to make sure it stops the engine. Displaying a kill cord sticker on your boat can serve as a great reminder to attach the cord each time you go afloat, these are available for free from the RYA.

Over time weathering and UV light will degrade the kill cord and it may become stretched or brittle. Monitor the kill cord for signs of wear, rust and reduced elasticity (the kill cord should not droop excessively) and replace it in good time. When replacing a kill cord, purchase a genuine replacement, cheap imitations have been known to jam or snap. A second kill cord should be kept on board to allow boat to be re-started if the driver and kill cord have gone overboard.


You should make sure you and your crew have the right personal safety equipment that it is well maintained and fitted correctly. Worn correctly a lifejacket could save your life.

A lifejacket is more suitable than a buoyancy aid when on an open boat such as a powerboat or RIB and generally where you do not expect to enter the water. They offer a higher standard of performance and are intended to provide face up in water support regardless of physical conditions.

Ideally you should buy a lifejacket that is fitted with crotch straps; these will stop the lifejacket riding up over your head. You should also consider a lifejacket that has a place to fit a personal locator beacon to aid location. Where possible test your lifejacket in a controlled environment to check that it will work for you.

Fighting fire

If a fire occurs on-board your boat it is imperative that you have sufficient firefighting equipment to hand and that you know how to use it if the fire is to be extinguished quickly and effectively.

Where firefighting equipment is not mandatory it does not mean it is not required. Any vessel that is constructed of, or carries any, flammable materials should carry appropriate equipment for extinguishing fires and it is up to the owner to decide what fire extinguishers are needed and where to locate them.

On an open boat with outboard an engine(s) one or two 5A/34B rated extinguishers may be enough. These should be protected from salt water e.g. sealed in a clear plastic bag (heat sealable bags are ideal for this and can be easily torn open if needed) or carried in a dry bag with your basic safety equipment. Remember to store the extinguisher away from the engine and fuel tank. Inboard engines should be protected either by a portable extinguisher through a fire port or by a fixed system.

All fire extinguishers should be serviced, as recommended by the manufacturer or replaced when time expired.

Be seen and be heard


Although a maritime radio isn’t mandatory for pleasure vessels up to 13.7m in length, it is recommended, and a significant majority of powerboat and RIB skippers will hold a Marine Radio Short Range Certificate (SRC) to be able to legally operate VHF and VHF DSC radio equipment.

A VHF DSC radio provides line of sight two-way communications capability, automated distress alerting to everyone within range and an indication of your position if connected to a GPS receiver without the need to transmit a Mayday voice message.


EPIRB and PLB provide the position of the emergency and vessel identity if registered, but don’t facilitate two-way communication. An EPIRB/PLB does not rely on someone within VHF range to hear your Mayday call, nor does it rely on somebody spotting your flares and taking appropriate action; it simply relies on the beacon being activated and functioning correctly. Once activated an EPIRB will transmit for about 48hours, indicating that you need help and telling the Search and Rescue authorities where you are.


Traditional pyrotechnic distress flares are listed in Annex IV of COLREG as an internationally recognised signal which can be used to indicate that you are in distress and need assistance. Annex IV of COLREG lists a rocket parachute flare, a hand flare showing a red light and a smoke signal giving off orange-coloured smoke as possible distress signals. In practice, a vessel in distress may use distress flares, both to indicate that they are in difficulty and to pinpoint their location to those rendering assistance.

Pyrotechnic flares are ultimately explosives. If flares are carried on-board anyone who might have cause to use them should be familiar with how to use them safely. The time to learn this is not during an emergency, it is important to be prepared.

Calling for help

The RYA SafeTrx app provides all recreational boat users with an easily accessible and simple to use means that can inform HM Coastguard of their voyage plans and location in the event of distress. It is free to download for anyone who wants to be safer afloat and there are no charges to use it. The explorer function in the app provides weather information, port and marina contact details and VHF details based on your location when on the water.

Don’t forget…

Other things you should check before going afloat – alternative means of propulsion, anchor, chain and warp, First Aid kit, sharp knife, emergency engine spares, fuel including reserve tank, bucket, bailer or bilge pump, compass, electronic aids and charts.

To find out more about how to keep yourself and everyone on-board safe whilst on the water, visit the Safe Boating hub on the RYA website: www.rya.org.uk 

Top tips to help you tow safely, securely and confidently

When you buy a sportsboat or a RIB, your main concern is likely to be whether you can actually drive the thing without crashing into pontoons and other boats; navigate without getting lost, and deal with any mechanical issues that arise.

What many of us overlook is that, unless you are fortunate enough to own a waterside property, or pay for a regular mooring, you’re probably going to have to know a bit about towing too.

Not only do you have to tow your boat safely to a destination, but you also then have to back it down a slipway, generally with an audience eagerly awaiting catastrophe. But fear not, the RYA has a few handy pointers to help you tow safely, securely and confidently.


Before you do anything, you’ll need to know whether you are legally allowed to tow. Requirements differ depending on when you passed your driving test. If you passed prior to 01 January 1997 you’ll be entitled to drive any vehicle/trailer combination up to 8.25 tonnes.

After 1997 you can tow a trailer up to 750kg on a vehicle up to 3.5 tonnes. In addition to this, you can tow a trailer over 750Kg provided the weight of the trailer and load does not exceed the unladen weight of the towing vehicle.

Whenever you passed your test, you’re going to need at least third-party insurance cover for your trailer while towing.

Size matters

If you’re towing an oversize or overweight trailer, you’re breaking the law. A trailer drawn by an ordinary car must not exceed 7m in length excluding the hitching device. The combined length of vehicle and tow must not exceed 18 metres on vehicles built before 01 June 1998 and 18.75m on vehicles built after that date. In addition to this, a trailer must not exceed 2.3m in width. In terms of the boat itself, you will need to fit special markers if it projects more than 305mm from one or both sides of the towing vehicle.

There are also restrictions on weight: If you tow a small trailer without brakes, the weight of the trailer is limited to 50% of the kerb weight of the car or 750kg, whichever is less. When towing larger trailers that have brakes fitted, the weight of the trailer should not exceed 85% of the kerb weight of the towing vehicle as a rule of thumb.

Before leaving

Bear in mind that trailers often sit idle for ages and are then immersed in salt water before sitting idle again. It’s a recipe for rust and wheel bearings are always vulnerable.

Keep track of when the trailer was last serviced and leave nothing to chance. Check the ball hitch mechanism is working correctly and once you’ve hooked up the light board, make sure that it’s working correctly. Remember to attach the safety lanyard and also raise the jockey wheel.

Make sure everything is lashed down safely and, if there is an outboard on the back, make sure you have tilted it up and the propeller is covered. Once on the road, remember that the speed limit is 60mph if you’re towing.

Preparing to launch

You’ve managed to get your boat to the water, now you’ve got to get it in and out.

Much like towing, it’s fair to say, that launching can also be pretty stressful if you don’t know what you’re doing. Many of us will have witnessed some fairly unorthodox methods – the classic being unhitching the boat from car followed by the boat rolling uncontrollably down slipway.

This kind of thing really should be avoided at all costs so here are a few useful tips to ensure that launch and recovery are hitch free.


Careful preparation is the key in this situation; if you’re not confident with reversing a trailer, then perhaps consider practicing in your driveway or somewhere secluded before heading to the slipway. Ensure your tow vehicle will cope.

Check the local tide tables in advance to ensure you have enough water for launching and recovery, also look at the conditions on the water, will they make launching more difficult?


On arrival check out the slipway to ensure that your car will be able to handle the slope. Bear in mind that rear wheel drive cars can struggle on slippery ramps, while front wheel drives suffer from wheel spin if the weight of the trailer is excessive.

If you’ve been on a long trip, it’s worth bearing in mind that immersing hot wheel bearings may create a vacuum as the bearings rapidly cool, this draws in water and washes out the grease from the bearings. If this is the case, allow time for them to cool.

Before you launch the boat, ensure that you have removed the light board, loaded your boat up with the relevant supplies and, most importantly, inserted the bungs, you’d be amazed how often people forget! At this point, you’re ready to go.

5,4,3,2,1… Launch

The rear of the boat needs to float so that it can be reversed or pushed off the trailer. Car wheels are best kept well away from seawater.

Reverse down the slipway then push the boat off the trailer or hop into the boat and reverse it away.

If the gradient of the slipway is shallow which prevents you launching with the trailer attached to the car, use a rope or metal extension bar to enable the trailer to be reversed further into the water. This can be achieved by the following method:

  • At the top of the slipway, lower the jockey wheel and put the handbrake on
  • Chock the trailer wheels
  • Connect a long line between the trailer and the tow hook using bowlines
  • Disconnect the trailer
  • Drive the car forwards to take up the slack in the line. Remove the handbrake and the chocks and slowly reverse down the slipway while an assistant keeps the trailer in line
  • To avoid the boat sliding off the trailer when backing down the slipway; ensure the winch strap remains attached to the boat along with an additional safety chain or line between the boat and trailer


There are a number of different options here, but it always helps to have two people. In some cases, it may be best to stop the boat at the slip, and back the trailer into the water and manoeuvre it on by hand. Otherwise you may have to drive the boat on to the trailer. This is particularly useful when you are dealing with a steep slipway.

Driving onto a trailer

This calls for a bit of finesse and precision. You’ll need to ensure that the trailer is submerged so that there is enough depth to get your boat on to it and then trim your engine up to the point where the prop will not ground.

Drive on to the trailer ensuring you have just enough speed for steerage. When the boat is on the trailer, either attach the winch strap to the forward D-ring or lash a line from the boat to the trailer.

From here you can generally get it properly lined up on the trailer with a bit of fiddling about and usually you can use the trailer winch to get the boat fully pulled up and you’re on your way.

So there you have it; stress free towing, launch and recovery. With a little care and thought, you can ensure that the main excitement when you go boating is out on the water!

Want to know more?

The two-day RYA Powerboat Level 2 course is a perfect introduction to the skills and background knowledge needed to drive a powerboat safely and with confidence, including launching and recovery. For more information about the course and to find an RYA recognised training centre near you, visit www.rya.org.uk/training.

For more boating advice, visit the RYA website www.rya.org.uk

Flag etiquette is a combination of law (what you must do) and maritime tradition (expectations of behaviour within the sea faring community).

Being ill-informed of your obligations could lead you to cause insult at home or abroad by giving a signal you do not intend to give, or could lead you to a fine for breaking the law.

For many who go to sea, flag etiquette and flag rules are an essential part of the overall sailing process. Only with the right flag, correctly positioned, can you to be sure that you are giving the correct message and that any signal you are giving is clear.

RYA Members

The RYA flag etiquette book C1/04 has been re-written and is published online for the benefit of RYA Members.

For all other website users

A brief overview designed to demystify the basics of flag etiquette follows:

What to put where

The most senior position for a flag on a vessel is reserved for the Ensign – this is as close to the stern of the vessel as possible.  The Ensign shows the country of registry of the vessel and indicates its nationality. A UK flagged vessel must wear her ensign as required by the Merchant Shipping Act, which includes when entering or leaving a foreign port and on demand. It is recommended that the ensign is worn at all times in daylight, especially when near to or in sight of land or another vessel.  A UK registered vessel should wear the national maritime flag, the Red Ensign, unless entitled to wear a special Ensign. Wearing anything other than an authorised Ensign is a violation of British and International Law.

As the Ensign takes the senior position on a vessel, the order of precedence for positions for flying other flags is: 2) masthead, 3) starboard spreader, 4) port spreader. This assumes a simple plan of one halyard per spreader; other combinations including motor boats are discussed in the Members’ section.

Traditionally, the burgee is flown at the main masthead. A burgee must match a special Ensign if one is worn and it should always be higher than the Ensign. Flag etiquette states that only one burgee is flown at a time, but it is not uncommon nowadays to see yachts flying more than one burgee. Although this might cause offence to some, there is nothing legally wrong with this practice provided the rules governing the wearing of a special ensign are adhered to.

The starboard spreaders are used for signalling. This is where both a courtesy flag and the Q flag, as signals, should be flown. These days it is becoming increasingly common for yachts to fly a burgee from the starboard spreaders because of instrumentation sited at the main masthead. Again, legally there is nothing wrong with doing so but this practice presents a number of problems for those who wish to adhere to the traditions of flag etiquette.

More than one flag may be flown on a halyard except that flag etiquette states that no flag can be above the burgee on the same halyard and no flag can be worn above the courtesy flag. If you fly a burgee at the starboard spreaders and are sailing in the territorial waters of another country this presents something of a dilemma, particularly if you must fly a burgee to match a special Ensign. Unless the burgee is in its traditional position at the masthead, you risk flouting one or another element of flag etiquette. How you choose to resolve this is a matter of choice.

A word on courtesy flags, most countries use their national flag at sea and it is therefore not uncommon to see a foreign visitor flying a Union Jack as a courtesy flag when visiting UK waters. This is wrong; the correct flag is always a Red Ensign. There is no legal requirement to fly a courtesy flag; it is a courtesy that acknowledges that the vessel will respect the laws and sovereignty of that country. However, if one is not flown or it is tatty or faded, it may cause grave offence and in some countries can lead to a fine.

The port spreaders are used for house flags. A house flag is normally but not always a small rectangular version of a burgee. It may indicate membership of an association (i.e. the RYA) or society or may be to indicate membership of another club should that club have a house flag.  More than one house flag may be flown on the port halyard, but with caution as too many might appear vulgar to some.

Land flags

The Union Jack, Welsh Dragon, the Crosses of St Andrew, St George and St Patrick and the EU flag are primarily land flags and must not be flown at sea as an Ensign by cruising yachtsmen. At sea the cross of St George is the flag of an Admiral and it should therefore not be flown by anyone else, without special dispensation. A vessel flying the St Andrew’s Cross could be mistaken as saying “my vessel is stopped and making no way through the water” as this is the meaning of code flag M which has the same design and the St Patrick s Cross could be misinterpreted as code flag V “I require assistance”.

Union Jack or Union flag?

There is often a lively debate about which term is correct. In fact both terms are acceptable having been given parliamentary approval in 1908 when it was stated that “the Union Jack should be regarded as the National flag”.

Sizing your flags

The sizes and condition of flags are important. They should not be tatty and should not hang in the water, but should still be large enough to be seen.

The best advice is “what looks right” but a rough guide is:


The general guideline for the size of Ensign used to be an inch per foot of yacht, but on many modern yachts this is found to be a little on the small side for the vessel to look “well dressed”. Roughly speaking a 3/4 yard Ensign should look right on a boat of 21-26 ft, 1 yard for 27- 34 ft, 1 1/4 yard for 35 – 42 ft, 1 1/2 yard for 43 – 50 ft and 1 3/4 yard for 51 – 60 ft, but some discretion may need to be applied.


A burgee of 15″ in the fly (the horizontal measurement) should look appropriate on vessels up to 34ft. This increases to 18″ for up to 42ft, 24″ for up to 50ft and 30″ up to 60 ft.

Courtesy Flag

Having an undersized, faded or tatty courtesy flag in many places is worse than having no courtesy flag. Again as a guide only, 12″ in the fly should look appropriate for 21-26 ft, 15″ for 27- 34 ft, 18″ for 35 – 42 ft, 22″ for 43 – 50 ft and 30″ for 51 – 60 ft. Availability may however end up dictating the size of the flag.

House flags

A house flag of a similar size to those listed for the courtesy flag will generally be appropriate.

Special Ensigns

In addition to the national maritime flag, the Red Ensign, there is a White Ensign, a Blue Ensign and there are a number of Red Ensigns with a badge, Blue Ensigns with a badge and a light blue Ensign with a badge. These additional Ensigns are special or privileged Ensigns may only be worn with permission, which is granted ultimately by the Queen.

A warrant grants this permission and the Ensign must be worn in accordance with the warrant, which will in most cases require the corresponding burgee to be displayed. In most cases the warrant is granted to a Yacht Club, which in turns gives its members permission to wear the Ensign under the conditions of the warrant, by issuing the members with a permit.

The RYA has no power to police the wearing of Ensigns or prohibited flags other than by spreading the word about flag etiquette and encouraging good practice.

With water temperatures continuing to fall, Craig Burton, RYA Training Resource Manager, takes a closer look at cold water immersion, what to expect and what you can do to increase your chance of survival should you find yourself in the water…

A British Government report, published in 1977, identified that 55% of open water deaths occurred within 3m of safety, and 47% within just 2m of safety. It was clear something much quicker than hypothermia was incapacitating these casualties, and the various stages of the body’s reaction to cold water immersion were identified.

We’ve known about these stages for some time, but it is no less dangerous. There are however, a few simple things you can do to prepare yourself should the worst happen. Here, we revisit the basics.

Cold shock

Cold shock, or cold water shock, is the physiological reaction when a person enters cold water. The sudden lowering of skin temperature produces involuntary responses which take effect almost immediately, reach their peak in the first 30 seconds and last for 2 to 3 minutes:

  • Breathing becomes quicker – hyperventilation.
  • This over-breathing can cause dizziness and confusion in the first few minutes.
  • In water below 15°C an initial involuntary gasp of air can result in inhalation of water.
  • The ability to hold breath is greatly reduced to less than 10 seconds.
  • In choppy water where waves wash over the face frequently, this rapid breathing and reduced ability to hold your breath greatly increases the risk of water inhalation and drowning.
  • The blood vessels near the surface of the skin constrict to reduce flow and prevent heat loss, leading to increased blood pressure as the heart pumps against the constrictions. Any exertion at this point can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke

It is easy to see how these responses could cause panic.

Remember, the rapid breathing will settle down in a minute or two. It’s best to focus on protecting your airway and NOT undertaking the swim to perceived safety until your heart rate and breathing settles.

An appropriate personal floatation device (PFD) for the activity (lifejacket or buoyancy aid) will assist in keeping you afloat and able to protect your airway in the first few minutes. The RYA website has detailed advice about choosing an appropriate PFD, but in general terms a buoyancy aid should be worn in activities where it is expected that you will enter the water as a typical part of the activity. For example, dinghy sailing.

Loss of co-ordination and dexterity

As the cold water begins to cool your muscles, dexterity is reduced. This takes place between 3 and 30 minutes. In this time, you may lose your ability to operate a distress beacon, such as a MOB alert.

Your ability to swim will also gradually become more impaired. Deploying or activating equipment should be done as soon as possible, particularly if in open water.

If you have an MOB beacon or strobe light, activate it now. Don’t wait until your hands are too cold.

If you have a lifejacket with a spray hood, deploy it now to protect your airways.

Hypothermia leading to unconsciousness

From 30 minutes onwards genuine hypothermia becomes a reality. Uncontrollable shivering will stop as the body continues to cool. Without rescue this may ultimately lead to unconsciousness and loss of life.

Having appropriate clothing will help, and you should also minimise your surface area by adopting the HELP position (Heat Escape Lessening Posture). This will reduce loss of body heat. Avoid excess activity, such as swimming, as it will increase your rate of cooling.

Be prepared

The RYA Sea Survival Handbook is the official supporting text for the RYA Sea Survival course. It covers everything from understanding weather to calling for help, as well as the importance of the correct safety equipment and how and when to use it. Visit the RYA website for more information about the book and the course – www.rya.org.uk

Queen’s Harbour Master Clyde
LNTM No 02/21


2) NEXT CWM 3/21

View notice online

Queen’s Harbour Master Clyde
LNTM No 05/21
                                                                                                                                                                                            BA Chart 3746

1. Mariners are advised that the construction phase of 4 new Aids to Navigation (AtoN) Beacons in Loch Long is now complete.

2. The commissioning phase of the 4 Aids to Navigation beacons is expected to be carried out by the first week in February 2021.


3. An LNTM will be issued on completion of the commissioning phase, bringing the 4 Beacons into service.

4. Please see below AtoN co-ordinates:

 AtoN  Latitude  Longitude
 Mallan No 3  56 7.522635N 04 49.223771W
 Mallan No 1  56 6.800018N 04 51.098485W
(Approach headmark) ‘Cnap Point Lt’  56 7.375280N 04 50.193924W
 Mallan No 2  56 7.199451N 04 49.583375W

Extracts from BA Chart 3746 showing the AtoN positions

5. Whilst vessels are operational in the associated areas, they will maintain a listening watch on VHF Channels 12,16 and 73.

6. Mariners are to navigate with caution when transiting in this area and reduce wash adjacent to the works. MOD Police will monitor activity in the area.

7. Further Information can be obtained from QHM Harbour Control on VHF CH73 or 01436 674321 Ext 3555/4005.

8. Next CWM 06/21.


View notice online

If you are planning an extended cruise or ocean passage, it is vital that should give thought to packing a grab bag for immediate emergency use – but what should you actually be packing? 

A grab bag should contain emergency items that, should the worst occur and you have to abandon your vessel, will assist in getting you rescued and help you to survive in your liferaft until you are rescued.

If you do not have a liferaft, then your chances of surviving may be significantly lower depending on the location, the weather conditions and the water temperature. Each manufacturer will include different equipment within a liferaft and this should be considered when you decide what to pack in your grab bag. Liferafts built and certified to ISO 9650 are packed with equipment according to the time likely to be spent on board before rescue. The list is comprehensive and certain items that have a shelf-life may be carried separately in a grab bag.

All grab bags should be stowed in an easily accessible location. The grab bag should be brightly coloured and able to float for 30 min in the water when fully packed. The grab bag should have a means of attaching it to an inflated raft.

It is worth preparing a list of the things you will need to put in a grab bag- assuming there is time – in priority order. The Royal Ocean Racing Club specifies a number of items in its Special Regulations for offshore racing which a useful place to start. The goal should be to ensure you are rescued having spent the shortest possible time in the liferaft. The order of priority is therefore:

  • Items that will indicate you are in distress and assist with your rescue, if you cannot do this then no one is going to look for you
  • Items for survival whilst waiting for rescue

Each liferaft, dependent on make and model, will have differing additional items included so it is important to check what may already be packed.

There are a variety of items you could pack which will indicate you are in distress and can attract attention: EPIRB/PLB, flares, EVDS, a waterproof handheld VHF, a powerful waterproof torch, spare batteries, a strobe light, a whistle and a satellite phone are all useful. A handheld GPS will help you to keep track of your movements in the liferaft.

You must also think about your needs for survival. The basic requirements are high energy food and water (a hand operated water maker may be useful). But you may need a spare pair of spectacles, warm and waterproof clothing, sun glasses, sun protection, lip salve, medication and antibiotics, seasickness tablets and a basic fishing kit. You should also collect together vital personal items that you will need once rescued, such as a passport, credit cards, keys, mobile phone, money, ship’s papers and insurance documents.

To find out more about how to keep yourself and everyone on-board safe whilst on the water, visit the Safe Boating hub.

Queen’s Harbour Master Clyde
LNTM NO 10/20
BA Chart 3746

1. Mariners are advised that Loch Long Salmon Ltd has contracted Partrac Ltd. to deploy one seabed mooring frame containing an acoustic measuring device for period of 90 days, the position given below in Table 1 and Figure 3. This is to measure the water column tidal current profile throughout this period.

2.The seabed frame is 1.5 x 1.5m and will be 0.8m proud of the seabed (Figure1). The location will be marked by a 75cm diameter yellow riser buoy (Figure 2)

3. The measurement device is scheduled to be deployed week commencing 15th June 2020 and by the 22nd June. The works will be completed using the vessel Mary M (Figure 4) supplied and operated by GSS Marine Ltd.

Figure 1. Example Seabed Frame Figure 2. Marker Buoy

4. Mariners are requested to keep a distance of 250m away from the surface marker buoy, through this period.

Figure 3: Deployment location of Current Meter Buoy Loch Long

Figure 4: Mary M (GSS)

5. Further notice will be given when the current meter has been recovered following the 90 day monitoring period.

6. Further Information can be obtained from QHM Harbour Control on VHF CH73 or 01436 674321 Ext 3555/4005.

7. Next CWM 11/20.

Tuesday 16 Jun 2020

David Lightfoot OBE MSM AFNI
Queen’s Harbour Master Clyde