VHF ra­dio is your res­cue net­work

Horowhenua Chronicle - - NEWS -

Take two wa­ter­proof ways to call for help, is Mar­itime NZ’s ad­vice for what to take with you when head­ing out on the boat this sum­mer.

“In coastal water, a VHF ra­dio is your best two-way com­mu­ni­ca­tion de­vice at sea,” says Mar­itime NZ Deputy Di­rec­tor Sharyn Forsyth.

“Re­mem­ber, if you can’t call for help, then no one can find you and hy­pother­mia be­comes a se­ri­ous risk,” she added. “With a VHF ra­dio, the mar­itime dis­tress chan­nel, chan­nel 16 is mon­i­tored 24/7 by the Mar­itime NZ’s Mar­itime Ra­dio ser­vice and Coast­guard. It can also be heard by other ves­sels which may be in a po­si­tion to give im­me­di­ate as­sis­tance.

“Ev­ery boat with a VHF ra­dio acts as a ‘sta­tion’ and can come to the res­cue if they hear a dis­tress call on Chan­nel 16, or a lo­cal chan­nel.”

No one would agree more on the im­por­tance of car­ry­ing a VHF ra­dio as at least one form of com­mu­ni­ca­tion than Mur­ray Church, a Hawke’s Bay boatie, whose boat cap­sized while out fish­ing in July.

Last year Mur­ray and his friends had dis­cov­ered there was no cell­phone cov­er­age at their favourite fish­ing spot near Cape Kid­nap­pers so Mur­ray then bought a ma­rine VHF ra­dio.

When his boat cap­sized un­ex­pect­edly Mur­ray made a May­day call and was im­me­di­ately in con­tact with the Mar­itime Ra­dio Ser­vice.

Through­out the res­cue the ra­dio op­er­a­tor kept in con­tact with the boat­ies pro­vid­ing as­sur­ance and up­dates about a res­cue he­li­copter, a lo­cal Coast­guard Unit and other ves­sels in the area.

“We had a VHF and were wear­ing our life­jack­ets. I don’t know what would have hap­pened if we hadn’t. It would have been hours be­fore any­one missed us.”

His har­row­ing tale has been the in­spi­ra­tion for a multi-me­dia ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign for Mar­itime NZ that will run over the sum­mer months.

To read more about the cam­paign and view the ad­ver­tise­ment click here: www.mar­iti­menz.govt.nz/vhf

Mar­itime NZ’s ad­vice to boat­ies is to al­ways take two wa­ter­proof ways to call for help.

Around the coast a VHF ra­dio will usu­ally be the best. VHF ra­dio cov­er­age on lakes and rivers can be poor or zero so if you are not sure about VHF cov­er­age where you will be boat­ing take a dis­tress bea­con.

A cell­phone in a wa­ter­proof bag, torch, air horn and flares can also be used. It is rec­om­mended that boat­ies take a VHF ra­dio course through Coast­guard Boat­ing Ed­u­ca­tion so they know how to get help when they need it.

Sum­mary of boat­ing by the num­bers:

• 1.5 mil­lion Ki­wis were in­volved in recre­ational boat­ing last sum­mer

• life­jacket wear­ing be­hav­iour amongst recre­ational boat­ies is steady at about 75 per cent wear­ing all or most of the time on the water

• only one in four (25 per cent) take a ma­rine VHF ra­dio

• in 59 per cent of fa­tal boat­ing ac­ci­dents in­ad­e­quate com­mu­ni­ca­tions were on board (in­ad­e­quate com­mu­ni­ca­tions can­not be said to have caused the deaths but it was an added risk that makes res­cue harder)

• Two thirds of those who die in recre­ational boat­ing ac­ci­dents each year could be saved if they wear a life­jacket.

Wan­ganui Coast­guard skip­per Kevin MacKenna says know­ing how to op­er­ate nav­i­ga­tional and safety equip­ment on a boat is in­te­gral to safe boat­ing.

Be safe on the water.

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