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Old 27-03-2018, 15:43   #1
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How many flares?

Hello Cruisers!

I'm a little over a month from our family's departure date where we will move aboard our Nauticat 40, sail around Vancouver Island, down the coast to Mexico, and in a couple years, over to Australia.

I know the USCG wants me to have 3 flares, or the new Weems and Plath strobe light, but I'd like the collective opinion on how many flares, including type and SOLAS or regular, I should carry for my voyage.

Before answering, allow me to list my other relevant safety equipment for your consideration:

1x ACR 406MHZ + GPS Epirb.
2x Ocean Signal 406MHZ PLBs.
1x ICOM SSB.
1x Delorme inreach.
1x AIS transponder on the mothership.
2x Waterproof VHFs + GPS/DSC.
1x Greatland rescue laser/rescue flare.
Assortment of strobe lights, signal mirror, and a distress flag.

Our lifeboat is a Portland Pudgy, which has a place to store flares in it. So for bonus points, one should weigh in on how many flares are kept on the mothership and how many pre-stowed in the lifeboat.

Thanks!
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Old 27-03-2018, 16:53   #2
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Re: How many flares?

The 12 ga. Orion flare guns are good for absolutely nothing but keeping you in compliance cheaply. Shooting one off over a black ocean is one of the most disappointing pyrotechnics ever seen. I keep a couple guns and a couple waterproof boxes of shells with each. Because they expire every 2 years you accumulate a bunch over decades.
The SOLAS stuff is truly superior when it comes to attracting attention.
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Old 27-03-2018, 17:26   #3
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Re: How many flares?

The SOLAS parachute flares expire after four years. I buy one every winter. Shoot one off on New Years Eve. Four flares in the rack. Some of the other blinky things are just for compliance.

There's a limit to how much explosive stuff i want stored on my boat...
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Old 28-03-2018, 07:58   #4
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Re: How many flares?

We keep a weems and Plath electronic flare on the boat and the dinghy and accompany it by solas flares that we never have to replace. We also keep a rescue laser, even though itís not USCG certified. I donít care if itís not if it helps me get rescued! We remain in compliance, donít spend a fortune, and improve our safety.

http://www.greatlandlaser.com/green-rescue-laser-flare/
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Old 28-03-2018, 08:52   #5
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Re: How many flares?

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Originally Posted by zboss View Post
solas flares that we never have to replace.
What kind of SOLAS flares are these? I have to replace mine regularly (every 42 months?) The full "Ocean racing category 1" set costs over $300. But these flares are vastly superior to the tiny 12ga flares.
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Old 28-03-2018, 08:58   #6
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Re: How many flares?

Don't forget smoke, more effective in daylight.
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Old 28-03-2018, 19:06   #7
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Re: How many flares?

In an emergency perhaps at least one of your electronic devices could get a signal out and a Search and Rescue operation underway. Then all that is needed is to light up so that the boat is visible when help actually arrives. My choice would probably be the Weems and Plath flare unit, but I could see an argument for a non-electrical option for the case where all electronics are out of service (lightning strike?). Say go with coastal flares initially and add a few SOLAS flares before striking out from Mexico.
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Old 28-03-2018, 19:52   #8
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Re: How many flares?

Redundancy. You have plently of overlaps electronically speaking. I think some SOLAS or similar spec flares would round out your inventory. I would spring for a half dozen - the more the better.
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Old 28-03-2018, 20:00   #9
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Re: How many flares?

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solas flares that we never have to replace.
I'm sure every shipping company on the planet would love to know about these, do you have a link to these everlasting SOLAS flares?
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Old 28-03-2018, 20:30   #10
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Re: How many flares?

I considered your safety equipment.

Flares are only useful if another vessel is in sight. They have to get close first.

1) Portland Pudgy is not a life boat. Get a proper liferaft. Use the PP to get to shore in anchorages.
2) A sat phone has become, in my mind, essential safety equipment. I used one to effect a medevac 1040 miles north of Hawaii. I might suggest two as I am familiar with one breaking down in the South Atlantic. It can also be a spare to take in a liferaft; disconnecting one from a power supple and antennae will take time. With the sat phone you will need the phone numbers of all appropriate Rescue Coordination Centers.
3) A personal AIS will allow an MOB to be visible, on a chartplotter, a PLB will not.

As for flares I would take a dozen at least; more is better. Some on the boat, some in the ditch bag. Twin stars, parachutes, handheld and smoke.

What is in your ditch bag?
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Old 28-03-2018, 20:53   #11
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Re: How many flares?

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What kind of SOLAS flares are these? I have to replace mine regularly (every 42 months?) The full "Ocean racing category 1" set costs over $300. But these flares are vastly superior to the tiny 12ga flares.
None... since the electronic flares satisfies USCG requirements for flares, you don't need to get rid of your old solas flares or buy new ones to stay in compliance.
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Old 28-03-2018, 22:17   #12
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Re: How many flares?

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None... since the electronic flares satisfies USCG requirements for flares, you don't need to get rid of your old solas flares or buy new ones to stay in compliance.
I once fired a solas parachute flare that was several years out of date. It was stored in its original packaging in an air conditioned office until I decided to play with it. The lift rocket was very weak and I donít think it went more than fifty feet high and spent most of its burn time on the ground. No you donít need to buy new ones to stay in compliance but I wouldnít count on the old ones working.
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Old 28-03-2018, 23:03   #13
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Re: How many flares?

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Elliott View Post
What kind of SOLAS flares are these? I have to replace mine regularly (every 42 months?) The full "Ocean racing category 1" set costs over $300. But these flares are vastly superior to the tiny 12ga flares.
None... since the electronic flares satisfies USCG requirements for flares, you don't need to get rid of your old solas flares or buy new ones to stay in compliance.
But are these electronic flares SOLAS compliant? They may be quite good, but for my ocean racing I am required to carry a certain complement of SOLAS flares.

I've tried all sorts of flares, from 12ga "meteor" to SOLAS parachute ones, and there is a big difference. The 12ga flares satisfy USCG requirements, but they are not SOLAS-compliant. And as good as the electronic flares may be, no matter how hard you throw one it certainly won't reach the altitude or hang-time of a SOLAS parachute flare (humor).

Anyway, two related issues for any type of emergency "flare" device:
1) How well does it work?
2) If you have to comply with particular regulations, does the "flare" meet them?
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Old 31-03-2018, 09:50   #14
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Re: How many flares?

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I once fired a solas parachute flare that was several years out of date. It was stored in its original packaging in an air conditioned office until I decided to play with it. The lift rocket was very weak and I donít think it went more than fifty feet high and spent most of its burn time on the ground. No you donít need to buy new ones to stay in compliance but I wouldnít count on the old ones working.


I donít disagree but I also donít want to run out and spend $200 needlessly every year. We use to have flares and smoke from ww2 on board. Set one off and they still worked but I didnít like keeping them on board so I got rid of them.

If we were crossing an ocean I would make sure we kept some up to date flares but between our mast strobe, our electronic flares, our smoke, the dozen of solas flares, the dozen gun flares, and our rescue laser... Iím feeling pretty good for coastal cruising.
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Old 31-03-2018, 09:53   #15
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How many flares?

Quote:
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But are these electronic flares SOLAS compliant? They may be quite good, but for my ocean racing I am required to carry a certain complement of SOLAS flares.



I've tried all sorts of flares, from 12ga "meteor" to SOLAS parachute ones, and there is a big difference. The 12ga flares satisfy USCG requirements, but they are not SOLAS-compliant. And as good as the electronic flares may be, no matter how hard you throw one it certainly won't reach the altitude or hang-time of a SOLAS parachute flare (humor).



Anyway, two related issues for any type of emergency "flare" device:

1) How well does it work?

2) If you have to comply with particular regulations, does the "flare" meet them?


The OP question didnít indicate a requirement for solas flares and for racing.

I suppose you could raise the electronic flare in the rigging. It lasts several hours and if you compare the time plus range (10 mile) I bet your chances of having it seen are about the same as or better than a solas flare, which only lasts a very short while. Iíd probably use the flares AFTER we have already got the attention of someone using other means.

The Greenland laser supposedly has a range of 30 miles on a really good night but even if itís only ten... being able to use it over several hours certainly contributes to its usefulness in rescue. It uses a fan instead of a point to make it easier to get the attention of a plane or a ship in the distance.
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