Question: I recently had my six-year old Bavaria sailboat surveyed at the request of my new insurance company. The survey report I got back is leaving me in a bit of a quandary. Hopefully you can help with some insight. In the photo you can see the LPG bottle storage locker door in the cockpit.

New safety standards require propane lockers to be top-loading only. Meanwhile plenty of boats have side-loading lockers like this. If your insurance company has a beef, you might need to get  your boatbuilder to send them a letter.

New safety standards require propane lockers to be top-loading only. Meanwhile plenty of boats have side-loading lockers like this. If your insurance company has a beef, you might need to get your boatbuilder to send them a letter.



My surveyor is saying that this arrangement is no longer compliant with either ABYC or international standards and should be updated. This has my insurance agent all upset. I don’t know what to do. This is exactly the way the locker was when I bought the boat and it is CE-certified, so I just assumed that it met with international standards. What’s the straight story here?

Answer: Your surveyor is correct, but you have good reason to be in a quandary. The locker on your boat does not comply with the most recent version of either the ABYC or ISO standards that apply to LPG storage lockers. The ISO standard was changed recently to harmonize with the ABYC standard that addresses this matter (ABYC A-1 Standard).

The problem here is that when your boat was built, it was indeed compliant with the ISO standard at the time. I try to tell surveyors in classes that I teach that they need to carefully “pick their battles” when it comes to areas where the boat was compliant when built, even though it may not be compliant with current standards as written. In this case I can assure you that to make your current arrangement compliant would be quite expensive and, frankly, would not really do much to enhance safety on your boat.

I say your surveyor picked the wrong battle. There are thousands of boats plying the waters of the world with the same sort of locker arrangement that's on your boat, and there are just no statistical data to say that your arrangement is any less safe than the current standard requirement.

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