VHF radio is your rescue network
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.