When it comes to signalling your need for assistance, a key factor that comes into play is how far away you are from those whom you will need to communicate with. Some pieces of signalling equipment are designed for short distance signalling (where help is within visual/audible range), others for medium distance signalling (where help is just outside the visual range) while still others for long distance signalling (where help is outside reasonable visual range.) You should, therefore, ensure that you have the signalling capabilities best suited to the maximum distance you may encounter within your boating environment.
Because of the compact nature of smaller sailboats, it’s not easy to carry a lot of signalling equipment. At a minimum, the Small Vessel Regulations mandate that the following be carried on board.
- Either a watertight flashlight OR 3 flares of types A, B or C must be carried on board. If possible to carry both, the more equipment, the better. (Even though dinghy sailboats often do not come equipped with navigation lights and, as such, aren’t designed to be used after dark, you could breakdown just before dusk and need to signal for assistance after the sun sets.)
- A sound signalling device or appliance.