Originally Posted by jackdale
An option to using the geographic position (lat/long) is the relative position (direction and distance from a known point). But folks are so fixated on chart plotters that they do not really know where they are.
While relative position info may be useful, IMHO, it should not be used instead of LAT and LON.
Many times we have been cruising and heard a May Day or Pan Pan, reporting only relative position.
Here's what happens.
1. Receive an emergency
call with relative position.
2. Look at chartplotter
. See it, respond. Else...
3. Zoom out, too little detail to see landmark info.
4. Start moving cursor and zooming / moving.
5. Get out paper charts
and start scanning.
What are we looking for? LAT and LON, so we know how close the vessel is to our current
We even heard one May Day where the caller used a local name that only townspeople knew.
I have even seen 2 different charts
give a significant island 2 different names.
So my advise is always give LAT and LON, followed by relative position.
This is especially bad when the coasties use the same info, as their broadcast can be heard through repeaters for 100s of miles.
Here is one we had a few years ago.
"May Day, May Day, May Day, this is "Care Free, Care Free, Care Free" (actual name not remembered), May Day, We are run aground on Green Island."...
The CCG responder (sounded like a student) went on to ask a bunch of information that we given correctly, calmly, concisely, and slowly in the May Day Call. Maybe this was to keep the individual on the radio
instead of trying to solve the leak, I don't know, but it sounded ridiculous, like they simply weren't listening.
After madly searching and finding a nearby "Green Island", we realized it was the wrong "Green Island" of the 3 that were within 20 miles, after the floundering vessel finally reported LAT and LON.
When I here a May Day, the first step is to grab the phone
(to use "notes") or pencil to copy the LAT and LON as soon as it is relayed, and then punch it into the plotter. Bam! Direction, distance, ETA.
(If I don't copy LAT and LON first, by the time I get the LAT entered into the MFD, I can't recall
what the LON was).
To me, LAT and LON are the most important pieces of info. People can be ascertaining their proximity and change course, before they even know what the nature of the emergency is, saving precious seconds.
Sometimes relative position does help though.
We responded to a MayDay once where a boat had dragged anchor
onto a beach in a very protected cove (Heywood Island in Lake Huron's North Channel).
The owner wanted the CCG to dispatch a rescue
The CCG asked, "Why don't you just step off the boat onto shore?"
We responded to the CCG with an ETA of 30 minutes.
By the time we got there, one of dinks from the 40 or so boats in the anchorage, had towed them back out.
The owner was sipping a beverage on the rear deck
, rather than reporting the "emergency" was over.
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