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SAFETY STANDARDS ARE CHANGING

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Jan 16, 2020


The American Boat & Yacht Council was formed by members of the Motorboat and Yacht Advisory Panel of the U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Marine Council in 1954 as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation.

Previously, manufacturers could say their products meet the standards, but in the past there was no way to know for sure because ABYC didn't verify that they did.

But that's changing, and soon there will be ABYC-certified products that manufacturers will have to prove meet the standards. Members will be more easily able to find things like thru-hulls, electrical connectors, and propane stoves that meet ABYC standards. If a manufacturer claims its product is certified but it's found that the product didn't go through the testing process to meet the standards, ABYC will take steps, up to and including legal action, to stop it.

While boats have had high-voltage AC shore power systems for years, most DC (battery-driven) circuits have been 12-volt, which, while still able to start a fire, is not dangerous if a person accidentally contacts the positive and negative leads. But new high-horsepower electric motors are changing that with the recent arrival of high-capacity lithium-ion batteries. These systems can have up to hundreds of volts DC, making them every bit as dangerous as AC shore power, so a new standard for high-voltage DC systems is in the works.

Boat propulsion systems are getting more complex with the advent of joystick controls and someday will likely even include self-docking. It's important to make sure new boats with these products are designed with the safety of the boat and crew in mind. An ABYC Control Systems Project Technical Committee (PTC) is creating a new standard to address wireless controls, dynamic positioning, and joystick controls.

LED lights are becoming mainstream for most uses aboard, but they work differently than the old incandescent lamps with which we're all familiar. The Navigation Lights and Sound Signals PTC is working on updating the navigation lights standard to better address LED technology. They've also been tasked with addressing the challenge with the growing popularity of accent lights, which could conflict or be confused with navigation lights.