A common problem area for boat owners and Equipment Auditors is how to assess the securing system to keep hatches closed and washboards in place.
We are finding that following close behind this is the related conversation between boat owners and Equipment Auditors about the washboards and why the lovely Dutch doors that come standard with the yacht are not compliant for Category 1 to 5 races.
Special Regulation 3.07.3 requires for Categories 1 to 5 that boats with a companionway extending below the local sheerline a system of blocking it off up to the level of the local sheerline. The requirement also says that the companionway has to continue to give access with those blocking devices in play. This is where washboards come into play.
The reason Dutch doors don’t comply for Categories 1 to 5 is that with them in place and closed there is no access. To enable access, the only way is to open the Dutch doors and they are no longer in place. Equipment Auditors are compelled to not pass an audit on the grounds of this non-compliance.
Fortunately installing washboards is a relatively easy task and does not require an expensive solution from the boat owner.
The solution for securing the hatch and washboards may vary from boat to boat depending on what latch is installed. Often the Equipment Auditor has seen all manner of approaches and can help the boat owner work something out. Ultimately the crew, whether they’re below or above deck, need to be able to open it from either side. As much as some skippers might like to hold their mutinous crew below, it is not permitted under the Special Regulations. Securing systems using keyed latches are not permitted due to risk of breaking the key.
Whilst the securing mechanisms could come in all manner of forms, the test is simple. Demonstrate opening it from below deck and from above.
If the boat is looking to compete in Category 1, 2 or 3 races, the hatch must be able to be kept closed whether the washboards are in place or not.