exactly the same weather conditions as they were likely to be used, caused many Superyacht Captains to have nightmares. Yet Flag States seeking to impose commercial ship regulations on superyachts thought they knew better and it was only when threatened with the potential loss of income as yachts sought to reflag that they caved in and, hey voilà, we have the rescue boat as it exists today in all its glory.
Rescue boats built in the 21st century now come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours and can be rigid, inflatable or hybrid RIB type craft. The self explanatory name; rescue boat explains its ‘raison d’être’ and describes it’s innate ability to recover persons from the water when they are unable to do so unaided. Under SOLAS Rescue Boats must also be capable of marshalling and towing liferafts that would otherwise be left to drift helplessly.
Rescue boats must be between 3.8m and 8.5m overall and be capable of accommodating at least five persons all of who must have room to sit together with a casualty strapped into a standard SOLAS stretcher. Seats for those occupants except the helmsman can be on the deck or floor of the craft but cannot be on the buoyancy tubes, gunwhales or transom. Motive power can be provided by a fixed or outboard engine.
Under SOLAS rules boats must also be either self-righting or capable of being righted manually by two persons. Under the same regulations they can count towards any lifeboat carrying provision providing it meets the performance standards for both craft.
With safety regulations requiring a SOLAS rescue boat on many large yachts, boat manufacturers have sought out a number of ways to satisfy the legislative requirements whilst still producing a practical tender for transport and even sports boat purposes.
With traditional SOLAS rescue boats being somewhat agricultural in both looks and function a number of custom boat builders and specialist tender suppliers have worked hard to create rescue tenders that can double up as comfortable guest transport or water sports boats and also match the look of the mother ship.
There are a wide variety of options available depending on whether the main vessel is under or over 500 gross tonnes. White SOLAS tenders are available from a number of tender suppliers, that are certainly more acceptable than dayglow orange when considering superyacht and guest use in general. SOLAS compliant rescue boats can be supplied ex-VAT but only if solely used by the yacht for rescue purposes.
Yachts built to the passenger yacht code are obliged to carry two rescue boats, one on either side of the vessel but superyachts below this size need only carry one. Rescue boats must be equipped with certain items and stores needed for their rescue role. All you have to do is seek them out and our guide should help with that task.