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Old 26-12-2015, 11:29   #1
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GPS position during Mayday

The last few days in the Caribbean there has been a few Maydays and Pan Pans none of which have been able to pass a GPS position to the Coast Guard efficiently or at all by VHF.

So perhaps as a reminder to people in any part of world that the most important bit of information is the GPS position sent by DSC or clearly given and repeated until its clear correctly received and spoken clearly back to the vessel in distress.

Every boat by now should have VHF with DSC which should be connected to a GPS so the position is sent when the Red button is pushed.

Particularly important where the coast station may not have English as a first language as it compounds the difficulty for other vessels to understand it.

Hopefully none of us need to issue a Mayday but we must all be able to do the radio procedure instantly, correctly and understandably.



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Old 26-12-2015, 11:33   #2
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Re: GPS position during Mayday

It's a good idea to post the Mayday text right near the ship/shore radio.
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Old 27-12-2015, 03:30   #3
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Re: GPS position during Mayday

Thanks Mark, a VERY IMPORTANT reminder.

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Old 27-12-2015, 06:30   #4
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Re: GPS position during Mayday

Excellent point Mark. Link follows for instructions for basic VHF and DSC:
http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=mtBoater
http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=DSCDistress
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Old 27-12-2015, 08:49   #5
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Re: GPS position during Mayday

I have mixed feelings about posting the mayday "script" near the radio. Yes, there is a technically correct procedure to follow, and I like to think that in an emergency, I'll be cool, collected and smoothly follow it. But even that's not guaranteed.

Everyone is nervous the first time they key the mic. For many, it's downright intimidating. For my passengers, I'd rather they just know (1) to put the radio on channel 16; (2) to press the mic button, pause, then speak clearly, and (3) that someone will come on and help them through it once they RELEASE the button.

With newer radios, just tell them to push the red distress button for 10 seconds. It's really only 3-6 seconds, but in an emergency they'll be impatient.

What they say isn't that important. Coast Guard watchstanders are trained to talk beginners through any situation, and ask all the right questions. More than likely, the tone of voice will let whoever's listening know that it's an emergency.
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Old 27-12-2015, 08:57   #6
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Re: GPS position during Mayday

Good reminder MarkJ. Regarding a mayday script, the idea is to say what needs to be said in as quick a fashion as possible. You may not have time to go through a long round of Q&A. The signal can be lost or distorted. Lots of reasons to be short and succinct. However, you do what you have to do when it happens.
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Old 27-12-2015, 09:15   #7
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Re: GPS position during Mayday

On a lighter note, the posting reminds me of a darkly humorous story told to me a few years ago by a member of the UK's coastguard agency.

The coastguard received a Mayday from a spanking new and very luxurious powerboat on its way down the English Channel, both engines of which had failed.

Before the well-oiled machinery of the maritime rescue operation could be triggered, the evidently somewhat panicked owner was asked to provide the vital information of his current position.

A puzzled silence of several seconds ensued before the answer came: 'Well, I'm the managing director of a food manufacturing company - but I don't see what that's got to do with it.'

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Old 27-12-2015, 09:22   #8
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Re: GPS position during Mayday

I admit I find it strange that Canada has a required course/test/license to operate a VHF yet the states and others don't, people are always telling people they need some ASA sailing course but never seen anybody suggest a proper VHF course to anybody.
We also have to have a Boatsmart card proving we know the basics and passed that course.
Seems to me that both of these should be mandatory for everybody everywhere.
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Old 27-12-2015, 09:28   #9
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Re: GPS position during Mayday

Quote:
Originally Posted by athene View Post
On a lighter note, the posting reminds me of a darkly humorous story told to me a few years ago by a member of the UK's coastguard agency.

The coastguard received a Mayday from a spanking new and very luxurious powerboat on its way down the English Channel, both engines of which had failed.

Before the well-oiled machinery of the maritime rescue operation could be triggered, the evidently somewhat panicked owner was asked to provide the vital information of his current position.

A puzzled silence of several seconds ensued before the answer came: 'Well, I'm the managing director of a food manufacturing company - but I don't see what that's got to do with it.'

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Old 27-12-2015, 09:31   #10
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Re: GPS position during Mayday

Quote:
Originally Posted by athene View Post

Before the well-oiled machinery of the maritime rescue operation could be triggered, the evidently somewhat panicked owner was asked to provide the vital information of his current position.

A puzzled silence of several seconds ensued before the answer ...
"In the bilge pumping like all hell..."

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Old 27-12-2015, 09:32   #11
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Re: GPS position during Mayday

Quote:
Originally Posted by Siberianhusky View Post
I admit I find it strange that Canada has a required course/test/license to operate a VHF yet the states and others don't, people are always telling people they need some ASA sailing course but never seen anybody suggest a proper VHF course to anybody.
We also have to have a Boatsmart card proving we know the basics and passed that course.
Seems to me that both of these should be mandatory for everybody everywhere.
I agree that everyone in the boating community should have at least a minimum of training to use the VHF. Most ex military (as am I) already know the drill, but I get pretty tired of hearing people with all their 10-4's and good buddy's and the rest of the CB lingo on the radio.

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Old 27-12-2015, 09:45   #12
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Re: GPS position during Mayday

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Originally Posted by svfinlandia View Post
I agree that everyone in the boating community should have at least a minimum of training to use the VHF. Most ex military (as am I) already know the drill, but I get pretty tired of hearing people with all their 10-4's and good buddy's and the rest of the CB lingo on the radio.

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Old 27-12-2015, 09:47   #13
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Re: GPS position during Mayday

One problem is that, while many boats have DSC radios, not as many have gone to the trouble to :

1) wire the radio to the GPS
2) apply for an MMSI number
3) program it into the radio

The Coastguard says that many DSC calls are missing vital info.
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Old 27-12-2015, 09:54   #14
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Re: GPS position during Mayday

Actually, while we're at it, the following experience is not hearsay because I heard it with my own ears.

On a trip down the English Channel (and probably not far from the position of the culprit in my earlier posting), I heard the following exchange during a Pan Pan broadcast by another yacht:

Coastguard: 'Unknown vessel calling Pan Pan you are breaking up. Please say again.'

Yacht (in very upper class accent): 'I'm pressing the button a bit harder now. Is that any better?'

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Old 27-12-2015, 09:56   #15
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Re: GPS position during Mayday

True Mark, Couple weeks ago on a Saturday I received 2 DSC calls, neither of which were from registered radios, worthless, no position, nothing.
Radio was the primary means of communication where I worked, the golden rule was : Always know what you are going to say BEFORE you key the mike.
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