I guess this is the right place for this post since it is about "seamanship' and safety
On the 3rd of Dec. I was "ear witness" to an incident off the west coast
near the entrance to Bahia
de Banderas involving a large power boat
(name withheld to avoid embarressing the skipper) which had lost
power and was adrift for several hours.
It seems that the vessel had lost
all power around midnight and drifted for a bit while the crew tried to solve the unknown problem. When they finally sent out a call for assistance they sent a "Mayday" even though there was no immediate threat to life or the survival of the ship. (Should have been a "PAN PAN"). Seas were less than five feet, wind
northerly at 5-15kts. and they were at least 10 NM off shore in clear weather
. When contact was established with other vessels in the area using a hand held VHF
, the Mexican Navy rescue
in Puerto Vallarta
was notified and search efforts organized (which took a couple of hours, they are NOT the USCG), now here's the point. The vessel in question had NO GOOD IDEA where they were. WHY??? Because they had NO BACKUP to their electronics!!!!! When the power went down they did not have any way of determining their position. NO hand held GPS
, NO EPIRB
, nada! Several hours were lost searching for them in a large general area. The vessel was finally found (when the VHF
was almost dead, no spare batteries) and towed to port BUT what if the situation had been worse or even much worse, fire aboard, taking on water
, severe medical emergency
in addition to the loss of power????
This crew was very lucky! Since the vessel is a large (read very expensive) power cruiser it sure seems to me that the investment of a few hundred $$$ for a backup GPS
(or two) and lots of AA batteries would be cheap
Lesson learned? I sure hope so!
And by the way, a "Well done" to the cruising sailors who handled the radio
relays and early phases of the search operation!