Safer Boat­ing with Coast­guard

A day out on the wa­ter can turn into a dis­as­ter at the drop of a hat – which is why you need to be pre­pared, al­ways.

Boating NZ - - Contents -

You never know when things will turn to cus­tard – but you can pretty much guar­an­tee that when some­thing goes wrong on your boat, it will be at the worst pos­si­ble time. It’s called Sod’s Law.

This is ex­actly what hap­pened to Paul – a yachtie on his way from Auck­land to Dunedin. Things started out fine, but as he en­tered the Bay of Plenty the sea started churn­ing, and next thing he knew his steer­ing sud­denly failed – 70km from shore.

Paul needed help ur­gently. He trig­gered his res­cue bea­con (EPIRB), and hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres away the Res­cue Co­or­di­na­tion Cen­tre picked up his dis­tress call and raised the alarm. Coast­guard Tau­ranga set out im­me­di­ately and kept in con­tact with Paul via his VHF ra­dio.

It took the crew three-and-a-half hours of painstak­ing nav­i­ga­tion in the pitch black to find Paul and his yacht. With­out his res­cue bea­con and the abil­ity to con­tin­u­ally com­mu­ni­cate his po­si­tion via VHF, it’s un­likely Paul would have sur­vived.

The les­son here, and one of the five rules of the Boat­ing Safety Code, is to al­ways carry two forms of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. This is the best way to en­sure that – if you’re in trou­ble on the wa­ter – some­one will be there to help you.

So whether you’re head­ing out on your boat, yacht, or kayak, here are the key things to do to stay in touch and call for help if you need it.

BE­FORE YOU HEAD OUT

The first thing to do is tell some­one on shore where you are go­ing and when you in­tend to re­turn. You should also let them know when they should raise the alarm if they haven’t heard from you.

Se­condly, log a Trip Re­port (TR). A TR can be logged with Coast­guard Ra­dio from your VHF ra­dio or cell phone. When lodg­ing a TR you’ll be asked for your boat’s name and call sign, where you plan to go, the num­ber of peo­ple on board, and when you plan to ar­rive or re­turn.

It’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber to close your TR when you’ve ar­rived at your des­ti­na­tion. While fail­ing to close a TR will NOT ini­ti­ate a search, it will help res­cue teams like Coast­guard know where to start look­ing and plan the res­cue.

CALL­ING FOR HELP

Call­ing for help can be done by VHF ra­dio, cell­phone, EPIRB, whis­tle, dis­tress flares and other means. Tak­ing your cell­phone with you on the boat is a good idea, but make sure to keep it in a wa­ter­proof bag. Re­mem­ber there is no guar­an­tee that you will be within cell­phone range, so an­other form of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, such as a VHF ra­dio, is vi­tal.

A boat­ing course such as Day Skip­per, Boat­mas­ter or Sea Sur­vival will teach you what to do in an emer­gency, and how to call for help. A VHF Course will teach you how to op­er­ate a VHF ra­dio cor­rectly, how to ra­dio for as­sis­tance, and what to do should you hear a dis­tress call from an­other boat. You can find out more about these cour­ses at www.boat­inge­d­u­ca­tion.org.nz

...when some­thing goes wrong on your boat, it will be at the worst pos­si­ble time. It’s called Sod’s Law.

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