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Scuttlebutt News Center:

Water Ballast - Dealing With Discharge

Provided to Scuttlebutt by Bruce Eissner, Chairman, US Sailing Offshore Committee

Volvo 60 Silk Cut
Water-ballasted Volvo 60 "Silk Cut"
(Halsey Lidgard Sailmakers photo)

(April 21, 2004) The International Sailing Federation (ISAF) submitted some draft Guidelines in support of Regulation A 5 to MEPC 49 under cover of MEPC 49/2/7. Since then there have been some significant changes to certain parts of the Convention which is now in its final form. ISAF has revised the Guidelines and these were submitted informally to the WG at MEPC 51. It was agreed that these would be circulated so that comments could be made in an Informal Correspondence Group. The revised draft is attached.

ISAF hopes that these Guidelines provide a simple system for identifying to Port Officers the vessels which qualify for Regulation A5 treatment and a “stand alone” guide for the user to Ballast Water Management procedures which are acceptable.

It might be helpful to give some explanation of the use of Ballast Water in a Sailing vessel. The dynamics of ballast water trim are different from those to be found in power driven commercial vessels. It is necessary for the trim and stability of a sailing yacht designed or constructed to use ballast water for the ballast to be trimmed as frequently as the direction and force of the wind changes. A sailing yacht will periodically alter course to bring the wind from one side of the boat to the other, a process called tacking. Ballast water on pleasure yachts may be continually pumped in and out and transferred from side to side as the boat tacks and the wind changes. Typically 60ft. boats of the type that undertake round the world sailing (Volvo 60's) have 4 tonnes of ballast water; larger boats have 6-8 tonnes; others have 4 tanks of 1.5 tonnes. A yacht may be changing tacks 6-8 times a day and sometimes 20-30 times. The number of tacks may well be less in a large cruising yacht on an ocean passage.

Whenever a sailing yacht tacks the ballast water will have to be transferred from tanks on the windward side of the hull to the other. In most boats part of the transfer will be by gravity and the rest will be taken up from the sea. The surplus in the tanks that have newly become on the leeward will be discharged. This process will be repeated each time the vessel changes tack. Whenever the wind moves aft the yacht will discharge most of the ballast water from all tanks to lighten the hull. In contrast a tanker, bulk carrier or other powered vessel using ballast water for stability will trim its ballast water tanks only when cargo is loaded or discharged. Dependent on the weather conditions it is possible that at least 95% of the ballast water carried by a sailing yacht will have been wholly exchanged in the first hours of any passage.

The Guidelines provide that Exchange is the primary form of control, the suggested procedures take account of the peculiar dynamics of sailing. It will be difficult because of space constraints to use mechanical or UV treatment to produce ballast water that satisfies the Convention standard. Filtration will not be practicable, as the small size of the filters will delay the transfer time between tanks.

The small quantity of residual ballast water remaining after a passage will have to be chemically treated. ISAF recognizes that the availability of chemicals for use will change over time as research continues. The guidelines have been drafted bearing this in mind and rely on the IMO Approval procedure. In due course ISAF would issue a list of approved Chemical available for use by Recreational Vessels.

Regulation A5 also applies to the very small number of pleasure yachts, which use Ballast Water and rely solely on power as a means of propulsion. These may have the facility to use ‘big ship’ means of Ballast Water Management. The draft makes it clear that such means are not precluded even if the ship is within the Regulation A5 size parameters.

ISAF would welcome any comments of the attached draft. It hopes that these can be sent to:
Michael Devonshire at It intends that a final draft can be submitted to MEPC 52 and responses by 28 July would be appreciated.


ISAF DRAFT 31 March 2004

GUIDELINES for Equivalence Compliance with the Convention by Pleasure and Search and Rescue Craft

1. All ships which comply with these guidelines shall be deemed to satisfy the requirements of Regulation A-5 Equivalent Compliance of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments 2004. A certificate issued in accordance with para 10 hereof shall demonstrate eligibility for compliance.


2. For the purpose of these Guidelines
2.1. “Coastal Waters” shall mean those within 200 miles of any coastline.
2.2. “Treated Ballast Water” shall mean that treated in accordance with these Guidelines
2.3. “Overall Length” shall mean the length of the hull, excluding Bowsprits, Booms, Bumpkins, Pulpits etc.


3. These Guidelines apply to all ships, however propelled, which
3.1. are pleasure craft used solely for recreation or competition or craft used primarily for search and rescue, which make international voyages and which are constructed or designed to carry Ballast Water;
3.2. are less than 50 meters in overall length; and
3.3. carry less than 8 cubic meters of Ballast Water.


4. All ships to which these Guidelines apply should comply therewith, except when
4.1. prevented by stress of weather
4.2. necessary for ensuring the safety of the ship in an emergency situation or for saving life at sea
4.3. conducting search and rescue operations.


All ships should, so far as is practicable avoid the uptake and/or transfer and/or discharge of Harmful Aquatic Organisms and Pathogens.

5. Untreated Ballast Water taken up in coastal waters shall be not be discharged within coastal waters unless the discharge location is within 200 miles from the take-up location.

6. Untreated Ballast Water taken up outside coastal waters may be discharged at any location. Ballast Water taken up outside coastal waters during a Ballast Water exchange with an efficiency of at least 95% may be regarded as Untreated Ballast Water for this purpose.

7. Treated Ballast Water may be discharged at any location in the open sea where rapid mixing is possible.

8. Ships should avoid, so far as is practicable, take-up of Ballast Water in areas which are
8.1. known to contain outbreaks, infestations, or populations of Harmful Aquatic Organisms and Pathogens
8.2. nearby sewage outfalls.

9. Any treatment shall use an Active Substance approved by the Organization pursuant to Regulation D-3 of the Convention. Before discharge, there should be no remaining toxic effects or persistent metabolites in the discharged Ballast Water or it should be treated in such a way that the risk of harm to the environment, human health, property and resources has been minimized.

10. Ships that do not regularly exchange Ballast Water shall clean the Ballast Water tanks every 12 months and properly dispose of any sediment.

11. Nothing in these Guidelines shall prevent a ship to which these Guidelines apply from using any method of Ballast Water treatment approved under any other Guidelines issued by the Organisation.

12. THE certificate referred to in paragraph 1 of these Guidelines shall be either
12.1. Certificate of Registration issued by an Administration endorsed with the overall length of the ship and the cubic capacity of its Ballast Water tanks or,
12.2. A Certificate in the form shown in Appendix 1 completed by
12.2.1. The Administration, or
12.2.2. The Designer of the Ship, or
12.2.3. The Builder of the Ship, or
12.2.4. An Organisation approved by the Administration, or
12.2.5. An Organisation affiliated to or in membership of the International Sailing Federation or the International Lifeboat Federation.

Appendix 1

Issued under the provisions of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments

Issuing administration, person, company or organisation

Particulars of Ship

    Name of Ship

    Official number of letters

    Home Port

    Date of construction


1. The ship is a pleasure craft used solely for recreation or competition/a craft used primarily for search and rescue.

2. The ship’s overall length is less than 50 meters

3. The Ship’s maximum Ballast Water Capacity is less than 8 cubic meters

Issued at ………………………………………………………………………………


Under the Authority of………………………………………………....(Name of Administration) or

By………………………………………………………(Name of Issuing Organisation)

Signature of authorised person issuing certificate

(To be completed biennially)

1, ……………..……………..the owner of the ship certify that no changes have been made to the Ship which have increased its length beyond 50 meters or its maximum Ballast Water capacity above 8 cubic meters since the issue of this Certificate.

Signature by or on behalf of the owner

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