Marine Navigation
& Safety Equipment

Marine navigation and safety equipment varies only slightly on yacht’s sailing in local waters and those doing coastal or blue water sailing.

Some equipment is required by law and a responsible sailor should not get on the water without it, and from there you can look at what is important to you and the waters you sail.

If you have just bought your yacht some of these are standard. Other equipment you may want to upgrade.

Lists of Marine Navigation & Safety Equipment: 

  • GPS and hand held GPS
  • Chart Plotter 
  • Depth Sounder can be combination Fish Finder  

With modern technology you can get other electronic sensors.

  • Log
  • Fluxgate compass
  • Wind indicator
  • Electronic chart plotter
  • Echo sounder
  • Radar and so on interfaced with the GPS.

A cautious sailor will be aware that all these instruments need power and in the case of a power failure, although this may seem unlikely, and some equipment like a handheld GPS and VHF can run with batteries it is wise to be ready to revert to the established practices of the magnetic compass, log and charts, and if you can use one a sextant and almanac.

And there are courses you can take on marine navigation and safety equipment for coastal and advanced blue water cruising.

There is also a wide range of E-Books and charts that are available and many can be downloaded free.

I have heard that many women are better at navigation and problem solving than their male sailing companions!

That’s what I’ve heard any way! 

Marine Navigation:


  • Compass, hand-bearing compass.
  • Charts, up to date, chart table 61cm x 76cm (24in x 30 in), and basic equipment includes nautical almanac, tide tables, pilots, and log book.
  • Plotting instruments, a roller rule, and pair of dividers, protractor, soft pencils and rubber.
  • Sextant, celestial navigation, is the oldest form of navigation.
  • Depth Sounder, basic electronic systems will display boat speed, depth wind speed, and wind direction.
  • Radar as an aid and collision avoidance device. Units that combine radar and chart images.
  • GPS … Global Positioning System, satellite navigation and combinations with chart plotters and radar.

Equipping for safety:

Don’t be under the mistaken impression that just because you are sailing in the harbor that you don’t need safety equipment, or that nothing will happen and that you can use your mobile phone if it did and get help. Wrong!


There are rules and laws that apply to all boats, no matter what size or where they sail. Some safety equipment is as individual as life jackets for every member on board. Then there are life rafts and EPIRB’s that are for the whole boat and individuals, other equipment like anchors are part of the boat. Some equipment can be classed as both safety and for navigation like a GPS.

Check your yacht for all of these things, it could save some one’s life maybe even yours!

Life Saving Equipment:


  • Life jackets, safety harness and wet weather gear for each person on board.
  • VHF radio. SSB radio
  • EPIRB (emergency position-indicating radio beacon) 406 MHz, and you can get personal EPIRB’s.
  • Radar reflector, nav lights, foghorn, and powerful torch.
  • Flares … hand held: 4 red, 4 white, hand held smoke signals: orange, buoyant smoke signals: orange and red parachute rockets.
  • Fire Fighting equipment, 1.5kg dry-powder fire extinguishers, and a fire blanket.
  • Horseshoe life belts, Dan buoy, buoyant heaving line, drogue, and Life raft.
  • Buckets with lanyard, bilge pump.
  • Anchor with the right length of chain and strong mooring point on fore deck.

As with all safety precautions, prevention is better than a cure, so regularly check and maintain all safety equipment. All the equipment in bold you cannot do without.

Each person on board should be aware of the types of emergencies that could occur, and that the weather can change on you sometimes a storm, sometimes a thick fog so both navigation and safety equipment is important and knowing how to handle it and where it is kept.

Safe sailing!!




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