World Sailing and the Royal Cruising Club Pilotage Foundation have published a Polar Yacht Guide to support the safe navigation and voyage planning for all polar waters.



The Polar Yacht Guide encourages safe and environmentally friendly navigation by pleasure yachts not engaged in trade, of less than or equal to 300 GT in Arctic and Antarctic polar waters.

The Polar Yacht Guide sets out to offer advice and guidance unique to pleasure yachts and works in parallel with the Polar Code, published by the International Maritime Organisation for SOLAS ships.

Click here for more information on the Polar Yacht Guide.

The Polar Yacht Guide is presented in three parts:
– PART A – Safety of navigation and voyage planning for Arctic and Antarctic polar waters
– PART B – More detailed guidance with particular reference to Arctic polar waters
– PART C – More detailed guidance with particular reference to Antarctic polar waters

In recent years there has been a big increase in the number of yachts cruising in Greenland, Svalbard, Alaska, the Northwest Passage, South America, the southern oceans and the Antarctic. This is as a result of perceptions that global warming is making higher latitudes more accessible, lower latitudes have become overcrowded and commercialised and cruising sailors love explorations.

The different polar regions share some common problems such as navigating in ice, poorly surveyed waters, fragile and precious environments and isolation. However, they differ in other respects. The Antarctic is governed by the Antarctic Treaty system and has well established protocols for visiting yachts, but the northern polar regions are administered by various sovereign countries with different rules. The southern oceans frequently experience extreme weather in very exposed waters whilst the north generally has more ports of refuge.

Mindful of the concerns, a Polar Yacht Guide Drafting Group was formed, bringing together experienced ocean sailors Alan Green, Skip Novak, Victor Weier and Andrew Wilkes.

The document was created following consultation with a wide group of organisations and individuals including search and rescue organisations, experienced high latitude sailors, environmental organisations, yacht clubs, navigation institutions, IMO representatives and Government agencies.

The Polar Yacht Guide is intended to supplement existing guides and pilot books.

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