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Old 04-08-2015, 11:31   #16
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Re: Should I have called the Coast Guard

I probably would have done the same thing. Blowing a loud horn might have been a good thing to do (in hind sight and if available) to see if someone came up. I am sure the CG weren't too bent about it.
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Old 04-08-2015, 12:20   #17
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Re: Should I have called the Coast Guard

If you did your best to hail the boat's crew and were unable to get a reply, then your next step was to do exactly what you did. As long as you explained to the CG the situation as you saw it, with facts and not with opinions, you allowed them to process the limited information and make an assessment of what needed to be done. While it is true that the CG has constrained resources and incurs risk in operations, it is the CG's decision to allocate resources and make risk assessments, not yours. Good job.

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Old 04-08-2015, 12:26   #18
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Re: Should I have called the Coast Guard

Assuming you hailed the boat both nearby and on radio with no response, I think you did the right thing.
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Old 04-08-2015, 12:30   #19
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Re: Should I have called the Coast Guard

As an Old Coastie, who has a few rescues under my belt, you did right in report a boat that you cannot contract, as it gets the CG on seen that much sooner, if the operator is disabled below deck or in the water. What does it matter if it cost a bit of money for fuel, if there is no problem, it still can be a good training experience, but if some one is in trouble.... you have started the ball rolling to get help on the way. So never worry about calling the Coast Guard if YOU or some one else needs help. I for one would give you a Gold Star, and Thank You.
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Old 04-08-2015, 12:31   #20
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pirate Re: Should I have called the Coast Guard

I doubt if hailing on VHF would have achieved much as if he was below decks he would have heard the call to the CG and listened in... and come in when the position showed in his area.. so radio likely off..
Nope.. if you'd sailed on and not called it in.. then at the end of the day, whatever.. hours later.. hear of a fatal MOB from that very boat... or.. he could just have broken his leg.. but.. could you live with knowing you'd done nothing..
Good call if the conditions were dodgy..
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Old 04-08-2015, 12:56   #21
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Re: Should I have called the Coast Guard

OK not a sailing story , but here goes.
Family used to dive a lot out of Panama City in our center console, on the way out to a dive site I saw a boat tied in there so we went further out to deeper water and a better dive site, after that dive we came back to find the same boat still tied into the first dive site. Thought that odd, but what the heck, maybe they did their surface interval and are now on dive two? We went to a different dive site, then back in for the day.
Found out later that the Father and his Daughter after the dive couldn't get back to their boat due to current and spent the rest of that day, all night and half the next day drifting almost to Destin before they were rescued.
Thank God they were OK, but I still think I should have dove to make sure they were OK, if I had I could have saved them a very bad time, but I made the wrong call.
So you were mistaken this time, but you could have easily have been right and saved that person's life.
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Old 04-08-2015, 13:04   #22
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Re: Should I have called the Coast Guard

Quote:
Originally Posted by dbeausoleil View Post
You stated you were in high winds, at least sea state 3 (or better). Your description sounds like a vessel actually rigged for high winds. Jib is down, main is reefed, or dropped and, actually, 10 minutes is not a long time to tend to a sailboat offshore.

In heavy seas, especially single-handed, it's not inconceivable for a skipper to drop sails and leave them where they lie while tending to alternatives (e.g. deploying a storm sail/sea anchor).

The USCG gets (and vets) a massive number of calls. Many are fictitious MayDays. Deployment of sailors and equipment is both expensive and dangerous. The best approach is to investigate, but keep a safe distance. If no response to hails, the USCG should be contacted w/standard identification and location information for them to make the call. Likely, during that time, they'd ask and answer all the questions you're asking.

Mayday is an emergency procedure word used internationally as a distress signal in voice procedure radio communications.
It is used to signal a life-threatening emergency primarily by mariners and aviators, but in some countries local organizations such as police forces, firefighters, and transportation organizations also use the term. The call is always given three times in a row ("Mayday Mayday Mayday") to prevent mistaking it for some similar-sounding phrase under noisy conditions, and to distinguish an actual Mayday call from a message about a Mayday call

Three calls of pan-pan are used in radiotelephone communications[1][2][3] to signify that there is an urgency on board a boat, ship, aircraft, or other vehicle but that, for the time being at least, there is no immediate danger to anyone's life or to the vessel itself.[4] This is referred to as a state of urgency. This is distinct from a mayday call, which means that there is imminent danger to life or to the continued viability of the vessel itself.[5] Thus "pan-pan" informs potential rescuers (including emergency services and other craft in the area) that a safety problem exists whereas "mayday" will call upon them to drop all other activities and immediately initiate a rescue attempt
The USCG

A vessel at rest, even in open ocean, occurs naturally all over the world. If you can't determine clearly the conditions of the two factors above, and you don't want to come alongside, it's really an impossible call to make correctly. You either leave the hazard needlessly or hazard the men and women of the USCG needlessly. However, IMHO, the USCG should NEVER be called for a routine call that can be handled by TowBoat US. People die when those calls are made. It's not only the (potential) victims, it's occasionally the folks putting their lives on the line.

One approach would be to set sail. In high winds, you can always sail upwind on reefed sails. It's physics. An engine may not have the drive against the wind, but the wind physics MUST push a boat upwind on sails.

Conversely, not everyone's the sailor they think they are to sail in heavy seas. There's no 'right' call when experience is a factor of consideration. That said, the USCG 'clears' many more distress calls than effects actual rescues, so with that just be assured they did an after action review/lessons learned and you should too because there will certainly be a 'next time'.

Food for thought, hopefully

Dana Beausoleil
USN/USCG Ship Inspector
Just an observation but your linked in profile gives the impression you're primarily an electrical inspector.

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Old 04-08-2015, 15:56   #23
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Re: Should I have called the Coast Guard

Sounds like you did the right thing. I think it would be a good idea for sailors to fly the R flag at times when there is no watch but all is OK. The R flag means "The way is off my ship. You may feel your way past me" and is used to show a vessel has stopped or slowed (on purpose) and signalling to others to pass safely.
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Old 04-08-2015, 17:25   #24
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Re: Should I have called the Coast Guard

Similar situation years ago. Came upon a small sail boat hove-to in moderately heavy conditions. No one visible aboard. Hailed them...turned out they were "busy" down below...another good reason to know how to heave-to...just in case you have an offshore "emergency". ;-)
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Old 04-08-2015, 17:28   #25
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Re: Should I have called the Coast Guard

Quote:
Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
Similar situation years ago. Came upon a small sail boat hove-to in moderately heavy conditions. No one visible aboard. Hailed them...turned out they were "busy" down below...another good reason to know how to heave-to...just in case you have an offshore "emergency". ;-)
Funny, been there done that. Unfortunately to old today.
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Old 04-08-2015, 19:22   #26
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Re: Should I have called the Coast Guard

Well from my point of view and with out a bunch of initial s after my name, only 40 years in law enforcement and 25 on the water, you did the right thing. If you sit in the parking lot of your local convenience store at 2 in the morning and don't see a clerk for a while, is he in the back stocking or laying behind the counter dead. You are better to call the cops than not. They really won't mind and neither does the CG.
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Old 05-08-2015, 02:25   #27
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Re: Should I have called the Coast Guard

You may be out sailing, work or whatever and havnt seen the responses. But I'm going to assume you didn't attempt to make any contact given your post. In that case you were effectively passing another vessel and the look of the vessel was enough to call it in.

In my opinion, you acted prematurely. And I suggest that without any judgement or criticism intended. As I wasn't there. I didn't see what you saw.

But, you were clearly wrong in your assumption because the guy did come up.

In hindsight, at the very least try to raise the vessel on the radio. Get close enough to use a horn or public address if you have one. Engines on and circling not to far away will usually be heard depending on the wind. After you have tried to get their attention then call it in.

That's my opinion which I'd be doing.
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Old 05-08-2015, 09:40   #28
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Re: Should I have called the Coast Guard

Quote:
Originally Posted by FamilyVan View Post
Just an observation but your linked in profile gives the impression you're primarily an electrical inspector.

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This is true. However, the USN/USCG inspector is the basic certification area for an FTG/ETG inspector ship-wide role and it sounds like the comment is meant to impinge on the authenticity of the advice, which is sound. I certainly did certify electrical shipboard systems. I also certified warships to navigate harbors, chart courses, and fight. This includes all aspects of piloting, engineering, maintenance, damage control, weapons fire, etc.(to include SINS navigation and aircraft operations). It's why 3 years ago I went out for a night sail on a 38' Herreshoff with the owner and, by the time the night was through, I'd stopped the boat from sinking with 2' of water in the cabin. Experience is the difference between an event and a disaster and only humans can learn from 'hearing' not 'doing'.

Beyond the professional certs, on LinkedIn, I grew up in boatyards, refit powerboats and sailboats (Current project is a Watkins 27) and I'm a SubSafe inspector, bay sailing champion, teach disabled to sail, have a background in search & rescue w/both the USN & USCG and crew background for a yacht race international champion, which'd be 'dad'. Linked-in is a professional website, not recreational. However, I have been a sailing instructor since the 1970's, teaching able-bodied, uniformed, disabled, and novice sailors to sail world-wide on yachts up to 54'. Fully qualified to give advice on a cruising forum, having piloted ships through both typhoons and hurricanes across a number of oceans. A US Naval ship/sub driver for upwards of 17 years, former director of the San Diego Yacht Club, yada yada. I've seen more recreational stupidity in my career (especially near anchorages and inlets) to last a lifetime. Typically, I read posts every day. I make an occasional comment on safety-related issues. Calling USCG service members is not 'routine' like calling a cop on patrol in a neighborhood. You're either diverting an asset from a mission, or putting an asset at risk for a mission. One equipment failure later, there's a military funeral. People call for help too often due to inexperience. If an internet forum gets someone to think first next time before initiating the emergency response network, then it was all worth the effort.

...I think that pretty much covers the comment... I'd advise staying on topic in the future. Trolling is contrary to the spirit of the forum.
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Old 05-08-2015, 10:08   #29
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Re: Should I have called the Coast Guard

My observation was accurate. When you sign a post USCG Ship Inspector you are making a very bold claim that could easily influence less knowledgeable persons. I thought it reasonable to share that your inspection activities are not in the field of navigation safety or search and rescue, and in fact were coming from a recreational boater who happens to be an electrical inspector as well.

I didn't intend to troll you, bold statements may earn you bold responses.

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Old 05-08-2015, 10:25   #30
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Re: Should I have called the Coast Guard

Quote:
Originally Posted by FamilyVan View Post
My observation was accurate. When you sign a post USCG Ship Inspector you are making a very bold claim that could easily influence less knowledgeable persons. I thought it reasonable to share that your inspection activities are not in the field of navigation safety or search and rescue, and in fact were coming from a recreational boater who happens to be an electrical inspector as well.

I didn't intend to troll you, bold statements may earn you bold responses.

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I call when I need someone to bring cold beer. Might as well post something worth having a pissing contest over. Although I knew a guy that got pissed when the CG stopped towing when he would run out of fuel.
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