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Old 25-02-2012, 14:11   #1
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Rescue authority zones and contacts

Hi all, about to sail from BVI's to Panama and normally I like to have a post-it of who to call in an emergency but cant find clear information about the relevant authorities in this area. I have the Virgin Islands (VISAR) but who after that? We'll be sailing close to Venezuela, Columbia and Panama.

Does anyone know of a good website that lists relevant authorities and their areas they cover?
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Old 25-02-2012, 14:38   #2
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Re: Rescue authority zones and contacts

In Colombia you can call the Coast Guard or the Navy on VHF channel 16 and they are often within radio range, especially the navy. They have a big presence in both Cartagena and Providencia, and we found them to be very helpful and professional. In Panama I don't believe you would reach any official rescue service on the radio over most of the coast--at least when I was there I never saw or heard of a Panamanian navy or coast guard boat. Certainly in the San Blas you are basically on your own other than fellow cruisers, and they will be monitoring the VHF and often get involved in rescues of various sorts. If I was offshore I would try contacting the US Coast Guard via SSB first and have them contact some local authorities. I suspect nearish Colombia the navy might be able to help you offshore, but more than likely there will be a USCG vessel or two around--they lurk around in waters where drugs might be found. I heard them on the radio looking for someone up around the cape between Honduras and Nicaragua.
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Old 25-02-2012, 15:02   #3
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Hey thanks for all that, I didn't really think to call US Coast Guard. I should have also said what I'm really after are phone numbers for our sat phone. Normally I can rely on books for the info but I've no guides for Venezuela or Colombia and strangely my Panama guide has none.
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Old 25-02-2012, 15:08   #4
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Re: Rescue authority zones and contacts

If you're using the satphone I wouldn't bother calling anyone but the USCG. As I said they always have vessels down in that area and even if they don't they know exactly who is around. In general down there you are close enough to other cruisers so that even just VHF radio usually raises someone quite quickly. The numbers are here for the various USCG search and rescue centers.
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Old 25-02-2012, 16:02   #5
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Wonderful, thanks.
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Old 25-02-2012, 17:33   #6
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Re: Rescue authority zones and contacts

Also, most of the cruiser nets do check-ins for vessels underway. If a vessel is overdue they will typically notify not only USCG and/or appropriate authorities, but also other cruisers so that you have more eyes looking for you.

I would definitely research which nets cover the areas your plan to sail and do a daily check-in with them. SW Caribbean Cruisers Net covers Panama and rest of SW Carib, not sure which for BVI area.
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