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Going Beyond the Bay - A Gear Guide

Posted by Jeff Dusting on 30th Jun 2014

Going Beyond the Bay - A Gear Guide to Get you and your boat to Category 3

The following has been compiled as a guide for sailors looking to venture into open waters and is based upon the assumption that you and your boat already meet the AYF Categrory 6 safety standard. The items listed here are those items identified as being required to meet the AYF Category 2 Safety Audit.

This page provides the reader with 3 options foreach of the key items of equipment, and nominates our view of the "Best Buy" - noting that each product has its relative merits, and everyone's requirements are slightly different. Equipment covered includes:


While you can by Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) with out an inbuilt GPS - we don't recommend it.   A GPS enabled EPIRB provides your precise position to emergency authorities, updated regularly to account for drift - improving your chance of rescue significantly.

When it comes to selecting your EPIRB - there are really only two choices at the moment, ACR's GPS enabled EPIRB is still on its way, leaving the products from GME and KTI.   The only real point of difference between these models is battery life and form factor - same GPS performance, both made in Australia.


                          KTI SA1G GPS EPIRB

                                      GME MT406G EPIRB

Australian made, 10 year warranty and battery Australian made with a 6 year battery life
(with free battery replacement after 12 years)
$299 $269

Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)

Personal Locator Beacons are getting smaller and more capable year on year, while there are other brands, we have proposed the top 3 here.

ACR ResQlink + Ocean Signals RescueMe PLB1 McMurdo FastFind

        ACR ResQLink PLB

          Ocean Signals PLB1

McMurdo FastFind 220

Proven reliability and accuracy - and now comes bundled with a bundle of goodies.

The only PLB designed to float on its own without a floatation pouch.
The smallest PLB on the market - 30% smaller
than the others and has a 7 year battery life - the
others only have 5 years.

This unit is ideal to mount inside the cover of
your lifejacket so that it is there when you need it
and secured to transmit on the bladder leaving your hands free
A well proven design, familiar to many -
a sleeker option than the ReqLink ... until you put the floatation pouch on. 
$355 $340 $399

Bosuns Chair

As discussed in the Beyond the Bay training program, there are some real advantages to a climbing harness in lieu of a Bosun's chair - our recommendation is the Spinlock Mast Pro Harness - for comfort and that all so important feeling of security.

Burke Bosun's Chair Spinlock Mast Pro Harness Black Diamond Vario Climbing Harness
Burke Bosuns Chair Spinlock Mast Pro Harness Black Diamond Vario Speed
A traditional bosun's chair, with handy bag for your tools and other gear you might need up the mast Recommended for ease of adjustment, padded waist and thigh straps - and the security of a harness. All the benefits of a harness, without the comfort of the Spinlock
$94.95 $182.50 $79.95

Drogue or Sea Anchor

Firstly - the difference between a drogue and a sea anchor (Para Anchor).

A Drogue is deployed from the stern and designed to provide greater control, vary the speed of the vessel and improve directional stability downwind or when crossing a bar. This is particularly important when running before large seas, reducing the risk of broaching, particularly in breaking waves and shallow seas. It can also be rigged as an emergency steering device and help prevent overtaking when under tow.

A Para Anchor or sea anchor is designed to provide sufficient power to hold the bow of a vessel head to wind in the worst storm conditions. It should be deployed from the bow of the vessel and greatly reduces the risk of broaching, capsizing or rolling, keeping the boat more comfortable and stable throughout the duration of the heavy weather. Most importantly it allows the vessel to take the storm head on rather than running with it, which reduces the time spent in discomfort and allowing the crew to rest.

Burke Sea Brake Para Anchors Drogue Para Anchor
(Sea Anchor)
Burke Sea Brake Drogue Para Anchors Drogue Para Anchors Tasman 15

Shown is the Burke Sea Brake 30 - designed for boats from 11-16m - with different sizes available for other size boats.

A favourite amongst many ORCV members

A more compact package, designed and manufactured to high quality standards in Victoria - suitable for yachts up to 17m Certainly worth considering, especially for longer passages. With a para anchor you are able to avoid a lee-shore, get some rest and let the storm pass over.

Does not provide the alternate steering or bar crossing capability of a drogue.

$321 $559 $1329 for the Tasman 15 (15' Para Anchor)

Lifebuoy with light and drogue

Each of these components (lifebuoy, light and drogue) can be purchased separately, and so, we have just included the bests of each in the table that follows - contact us at Adventure Safety if you'd like information regarding other options.   The entire assembly is available as a kit for a small saving - take a look here.

Apollo Light Drogue LifeBuoy

Apollo Lifebuoy Light

Burke Lifebuoy Drogue

Burke YA Approved Lifebuoy

This is our recommended lifebuoy light ... its rigged so that when the lifebuoy is thrown off the boat, the light is activated - no water activation, no gravity activation, to risk of the light not floating right way up.

There are cheaper options - like this  one.
No many points of difference on this item.                                                                                                                                                                                                                            . This model complies with the YA requirement - it includes a whistle, reflective tape and a line around the outside of the lifebuoy.
$96.59 $14.95 $64.91

Flares - 2 white, 4 parachute, 2 red, 2 smoke

** Stay Tuned, we are working on a great deal for  Beyond the Bay participants to upgrade their flare inventory.   Drop me an email at if you are interested ... the greater the level of interest, the lower the prices.   


There are a huge range of PFDs available, but our advice is select something that is comfortable to wear - its no good if you are not wearing it, and on longer journeys, comfort becomes very important.  In selecting these four we have considered comfort, ease of adjustment, and user reviews.

The options we have described are all ISO / AS compliant and include an integrated harness to allow you to connect to the boat.   The options presented also include a spray hood and strobe light.

Kru Sport Pro Spinlock Deckvest Burke 1780 Race Harness Crewsaver Ergofit 290 Offshore

Kru Sport Pro PFD

     Spinlock Deckvest Pro Sensor

        Burke and Baltic 1780 Race Harness

         ErgoFit 190 Offshore

The Kru Sport Pro is the choice of many ocean sailor - it is a waistcoat style vest that sits quite high on the body.

Users Say: You either love it or hate it.
Features: Zip up for easy access, integrated spray hood
Inflation: UML ProSensor
The premium PFD on the market - for comfort and quality - the choice of many experienced sailors and VOLVO Ocean racers.

Users Say:  I often forget  I am wearing it
Features: Pylon light, integrated knife, pouch for PLB, and moulded shape to ensure no weight is carried on your neck
Inflation: Manual, UML ProSensor, or Hammar
Burke  & Baltic's answer to the Kru Sportpro.   A light weight PFD with a  low profile that spreads the weight across the shoulders and back.

Users Say:  Lighter than the Kru ... if anything feels too light
Features: AS compliant, easy adjustment - spray hood and light added extras
Inflation: Manual or UML ProSensor

Designed with a moulded shape for comfort ... but ends up being quite heavy.  Does very well on the 'roll over' test during certification.

Users Say:  like the moulded shape and twin crutch straps, but heavy in comparison to the others.
Features: Dual Crutch strap and many adjustments to ensure a good fit.
Inflation: UML ProSensor or Hammar
$385 $448 $343 plus $62 for spray hood, and $26 for light $349 for both models

For a budget model, we recommend the Burke Yachtsman.   For $150 it is great value, with a low profile bladder - you'll need to add a light and spray hood for an additional $88 ... this is also an option for upgrading your existing PFDs - add the light and spray hood during the next service.

* To learn more about PFD inflation mechanisms, take a look here.

Tethers (Safety Lines)

The three key variables in safety lines (tethers) are: the hook mechanism, whether the tether is elasticised, and the number of hooks.   

Hooks: We recommend 3 hooks for everyone ... a shorter hook is handy when working on deck, and the longer one in transit ... even if you don't think you need three hooks to remain attached when moving about your boat.

Hook Mechanism:  The hooks must require two independent actions to open - as all of the suggested ones do.   But, it is also important that you are able to operate the hooks with one hand - a strength and dexterity test for many tethers on the market.

Tether:   The introduction of the elasticised tether is a great improvement, greatly reducing the opportunity to catch and tangle your tether ... we haven't seen an argument against the elasticised tethers yet.


Spinlock 3 Hook Elasticised Tether Wichard 2 Hook and snap shackle Tether Burke 3 hook tether

Spinlock Elasticised Tether - 3 Hook

Wichard Tether ORC 1 snap shackle x 2 double hooks

Burke 3 Hook Tether

This system has our preferred set of hooks - easy to operate with one hand.   The tether is thin and includes a separate look so that you can clip the in-active hook away from your harness. Wichard's tether system has the ORC snap shackle at the harness end - preferred by some who see it as a better solution for getting free of the boat in an emergency Certainly worth considering, especially for longer passages. With a para anchor you are able to avoid a lee-shore, get some rest and let the storm pass over.Does not provide the alternate steering or bar crossing capability of a drogue.
$109.60 $235 $87.15