OCC Forums

Community responsibility to safe cruising


By Dick - 5 Jan 2023

Hi all,
Recent opinion article by George Day (of Blue Water Sailing, Cruising Compass, and other publications) puts well a drum I have been beating for a few years now.
My best, Dick Stevenson, s/v Alchemy
Safe Sailing is No Accident

In the last month, there have been four dramatic Coast Guard rescues of sailors who got into trouble miles off the North American coast. We carry these stories in Cruising Compass because they are news, and they can be cautionary tales. Yet, we have to wonder about the wisdom of amateur cruising sailors heading offshore in December in the North Atlantic and North Pacific in relatively small boats. Certainly, it is their choice. But by making what looks to me like reckless decisions, they put the lives of Coast Guard helicopter and cutter crews in danger; plus, the rescues cost taxpayers a bundle. I wouldn’t be in favor of mandatory boat inspections by the Coast Guard before a crew heads offshore as New Zealand tried some years ago. Instead, I think we need to look at ourselves, the cruising and blue water community, in the mirror; we should speak up when someone in our community announces plans to do something reckless. Sailing and cruising has always had mentors with experience who bring new sailors along. But perhaps in the age of Covid and YouTube, that mentoring process has broken down. Safe sailing and seamanlike passage making is no accident. It depends upon the three Ps: planning, preparation and practice. Every sailor who buys a cruising boat with ambitions to sail offshore should know this.

By Sonia.Johal - 6 Jan 2023

Thanks Dick,

As someone who is still an Associate member, I very much appreciate your input.

Duly noted and I may confirm I am using the MCA’s “MGN280 small vessel guidelines” as a reference available to download as a PDF file, free of charge, via this link;


Although I’m wasn’t commercial and only sailed my boat while living onboard, in 2018 I asked a surveyor to ensure my boat was compliant with MGN280 category2 for up-to eight people, to a maximum of 60 miles away from a land based safe haven.

Now I want to sail further afield, I use the MGN280 category0 guidelines for my unlimited miles offshore sailing. Although my production boat is built to be compliant with ISO A standards, I find the MGN280 safety tables extremely helpful.

Once my boat has been through her annual out of water maintenance in March’23, I will ask another surveyor to confirm vessel as safe for long haul offshore sailing. I also have an ICC mentor who is also kindly offering his guidance.

Only when my OCC mentor is happy with my offshore safety and contingency, will I discuss any additional requirements directly with my insurance company.

Grateful for your most generous ongoing input and support.

Fair winds,

SY Salacia