Equipment - What do we need for setting off?

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At the start of the Grand Large Yachting World Odyssey in Seville, and on the ARC routes out of Las Palmas, or through the extensive survey carried out by the French “Sail The World” association, we were able to put nearly 200 multihulls under the microscope. We went in search of the consensus, of the right balance between comfort, performance, energy, safety, without forgetting what is becoming compulsory – whether by legislation or by the rules of engagement in these ever more popular rallies. The organizers of the rallies naturally put the emphasis on safety. Complementing the inevitable life raft, a grab-bag is required, the contents of which are now well known. In addition to the usual emergency kit (flares, rations, survival blanket, and so on), it contains a portable waterproof VHF, an EPIRB beacon, and even a satellite phone for some. 

Satellite is fantastic

Low or medium speed satellite modems (broadband speed is still ludicrously expensive) have become an essential feature aboard all the multihulls we studied. While the desire to “disconnect” during long passages remains a motivation for many of the crews interviewed, the possibility to send and receive basic emails, to make a call or be called in the event of an emergency is still reassuring. Some people continue to work... but it is above all the enormous contribution in terms of safety that is unanimously appreciated. The ability to receive fresh - and therefore reliable - weather information has been something of a revolution in the management of day-to-day navigation. In the most extreme cases, being able to reach a doctor from the middle of the ocean, to call a ship in distress, or to speak in a safe and audible way to a person coming to your rescue represents a paradigm shift. Even though the standard Iridium Go is not an all-risks insurance policy, we can’t help but think that this type of equipment has largely contributed to the increase in the number of candidates setting off. However, the various operators don’t cover the entire globe: the venerable SSB, often coupled with a Pactor modem, remains an essential piece of equipment for circumnavigators. Multihulls heading beyond the Caribbean are instantly recognizable by their prominent whip antenna. Alongside AIS, an EPIRB and small individual MOB devices (406 MHz PLBs) slipped into the watch-keepers lifejacket - these are the four elements considered really essential by most... Those and a good quality sound system of course!


Satellite communications are now accessible to all (at least at low speed) - a revolution!
When satellite operator coverage is lacking, the good old SSB (which will always work) sits faithful at the chart table.


No compromise on safety

To round off the safety aspect, rally organizers use feedback from previous participants to go beyond mandatory equipment - or the legal requirements in force. For example, bilge pumps often have to be doubled in size compared to the ...

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