I am a 44 foot UK flagged SSR registered private sailboat, currently wandering around the Caribbean. I have VHF + handheld, EPIRB, SSB, mobile phone but I guess that does not matter if there is some LEGAL requirement to carry flares.
I do have flares but they are either out of date or will be shortly. In practice I will hang on to them and add some new Solas rocket flares.
BUT I would like to find the legal position. What is the position re flares? DO I have to have them onboard? If yes how many and what type?
I believe that the French will fine you for carrying out of date flares, does anyone know if this is actively enforced in the French islands in the Caribbean.
Does it make a difference which island I visit?
I tried to find the answer using Mr Google and got lost and asked on other forums but just got lots of answers on disposing of old flares.
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Thread: What flares do I HAVE to carry?
26-04-12, 16:54 #1
What flares do I HAVE to carry?Monkey patching programmer [retired ]
26-04-12, 18:21 #2Registered User
- Join Date
- Nov 2007
Doubt you will find anything definitive. From a UK perspective there is no legal requirement to carry flares - or anything else for that matter. It is a legal requirement in France, but can be waived if you have DSC and an EPIRB. However, that only applies strictly to French registered yachts, and if you do carry flares they must be in date. Similar regulations apply, for example in Portugal. However, there is no clear evidence that these regulations are applied to visiting yachts, although this year the Portuguese Navy has been active in "inspecting" visiting yachts.
Generally in respect of what regulations apply when and where, the principle of "comity" that is respect for the laws of other countries applies, so UK law applies to UK registered ships. Regrettably this does not mean that every official in every country, nor even different officials in one country applies the same principle. So you may well find yourself compelled to comply with a local requirement, which in itself may not be clear or consistent, or you may find, probably in the majority of places they will ignore you if you are UK registered.
Not very satisfactory when trying to prepare in advance, but in essence this is the answer you will get if you ask "authorities", that is people or organisations that "know" if you asked the same question. Indeed the advice on the RYA website says much the same thing. You may, of course get specifc reports of peoples' experiences on forums such as this which you can take note of.
26-04-12, 19:51 #3
This is purely advice only...Just renew all the flares as and when DO NOT under any circumstances carry out of date flares.
Fair winds and Good luck
27-04-12, 01:24 #4
Flares are compulsory in some countries. Do not rely on the 'comity' excuse, as many officials dealing with yachts won't even have heard of it.
I think flares have probably outlived their usefulness for a yacht carrying several other means of emergency communication, so like you, now try to carry as few as is legally required. As far as I can make out, you would be covered (in all countries I have visited) by two parachute rockets, four red hand flares, and two orange smokes. All in date, of course.
Does anyone know of a country requiring more than this?
27-04-12, 03:25 #5
Surely trying the out of dates first would make sense. I have attended a new years celebration in the Bahamas where we were invited to bring and use our old flares. Almost every one functioned as it should.Monkey patching programmer [retired ]
27-04-12, 10:10 #6
Old flares MAY work but there again they may just blow up in your hand. As I said it is purely advice. The choice is yours and yours alone. Why take the risk.
27-04-12, 10:15 #7
27-04-12, 10:33 #8Registered User
Location : Remind me, why did we come back to UK in the winter?
- Join Date
- Jul 2009
Out of date flares. 2 things. One is in some countries it is illeagal to have out of date flares on board. 2nd, the pyrotechnic compounds do decay and are more likely to either fail to function or function incorrectly the older they are. Having taken part in the investigations into ammuntion failures and seen the results of pyrotechnics not functioning as they should, I take the precautionary approach and ditch the things when they are out of date, considering it not worth the risk of keeping them on board.
27-04-12, 10:37 #9
27-04-12, 11:28 #10
What is the risk of keeping them on board? (Assuming you are not going to use them).
My thinking is that I will keep a set of up to date flares on board, but I will also keep the old ones realizing that there is a risk they won't go off, or a risk of injury. If I have used up all my good flares and I am still in a dire situation about to die, then I will consider using my older flares which may be up to 5 years out of date (which may well blow up in my face) rather than otherwise face certain death.