There is a long list of safety equipment available to sailors. And we will give ours. But it is more important to have a seaworthy boat so that, unless you are really unlucky, you will not need any of that safety equipment.
Therefore, in the safety section, we mention checks which you should do not only do as part of the preparation, but regularly during the trip
Out of the water checks
Every time the boat is lifted use the opportunity to check hull integrity and steering.
Open and close all seacocks, inspect for corrosion and replace any that look dubious. There is a nice youtube video on seacocks from Sail Britaly.
Verify that skin fittings are done up tightly and do not look corroded.
Sail magazine says,"After hull integrity, rudder integrity is the most vital component of a seaworthy vessel". With the boat out of the water give the rudder tube a thorough high pressure rinse to remove any grit. We have a spade rudder and there should not be any play in it at all. If there is, then the bearings may be suspect. We would then have a professional look at it.
Keeping the mast upright and the sails up depends on keeping the rigging in good order. The life expectancy is typically 10-15 years and, as the 10 years approaches, most insurance companies will ask for a regular (in our case annual) professional rigging check.
In addition it is advisable to check things over at least once a month and certainly before every ocean crossing.
There are many youtube videos on how to do this but I like the RAN sailing one...
Avoiding bad weather and staying out of trouble is key to an easy life. It is hard to believe that today, with a satellite phone, in the middle of an Ocean we have access to up-to-date weather forecasts based on models from leading institutes and that, provided accurate boat polars are supplied, the forecasts can be used to crunch (using massive computing power) optimum routes to either arrive fastest or in the most comfort. All at a very affordable price.
Lifejackets with MOB
Below is a link to a RNLI video on how to look after lifejackets. They recommend a) an annual service b) more regular visual checks.
Lifejackets are designed to automatically inflate should you hit the water. The annual service will include inflating the lifejacket and verifying that it does not deflate, weighing the CO2 cannister (or replacing) and replacing the automatic inflation trigger.
Get a MOB device for each lifejacket. Not being able to find someone is the biggest risk with MOB. If they have one of these devices in their lifejacket Then their position will be shown on your chartplotter (provided you have AIS)
Radar and AIS
We classify these as safety devices because they help avoid collisions and AIS is needed to use the personal MOB's in lifejackets. Skyfall has B&G electronics which is now 10 years old. This company stop supporting equipment older than 5 years and refuse to offer information to help the owner solve the issues. So we carry the 'mechanical' bits of the radar that can go wrong: a spare stepper motor and the belts which connect the stepper motor to the rotating antennae. (Both parts have already failed once).
AIS is invaluable but beware those fishermen at night who insist on not using it
VHF radio & Satellite phone
We have a DSC VHF radio. We use one antennae at the top of the mast for both VHF and AIS and a 'splitter box'. The reach can degrade as cables or connections degrade. One way of checking this is to call someone on a 'secondary channel' (e.g. ch06). The radio will intentionally reduce output to limit range. If this is much less than you expect then your reach on Ch16 will similarly be less than you expect.
AIS givers the name of other vessels. If concerned about big ships do not hesitate to call them up. I am surprised how willing an officer on watch on a 300m tanker is to alter course for a sailing boat. it must relieve the boredom!
Liferaft, and Epirb
Liferafts need to be serviced every three years. The next due date will be on the liferaft. Remember that a RTW sailor may not be at a location where it can be serviced when it becomes due. We have an Epirb which we keep in the grab bag. The bigger the Epirb the bigger its battery and the longer it will transmit. The Epirb has a battery self-test function and one recommendation is to do it once/month. However the test does drain a bit of power. So frequent checks means less battery life should you need it. We do it once/three months
There is a legal requirement to carry flares (see link). We carry 3 red parachute flares and 2 red and 2 orange hand flares. We keep them in the grab bag. We do not have white collision flares. It is illegal to have out of date flares on board. Therefore when renewing flares, give the old ones to the chandlery for disposal
A 43ft vessel has a legal requirement to carry at least 3 5-B fire extinguishers. We carry four class-B fire extinguishers on board, one in each cabin, one in the galley and one in the engine room. In addition there is an automatic fire suppression system in the engine room. There is also a fire blanket in the galley. The fire extinguishers and suppression system require an annual service.
Skippers have different rules for harnesses, what is allowed when etc. For instance Erik Aanderaa (No Bullshit Just Sailing youtube channel recommended) sails alone and never uses one. On Skyfall the rules are:
1) During day, in cockpit, no harness unless really rough
2) During day, out of cockpit, harness needed if waves greater than 1m
3) During night, in cockpit, harness required
4) During night, out of cockpit not allowed with or without except in emergency and then with at least two on deck