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Old 10-11-2022, 01:38   #16
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Re: Mayday calls - where is that exactly?

I volunteer with Marine Rescue New South Wales and am a Watch Officer in the radio room for Botany Port Hacking which covers the southern half of Sydney.

I agree with the OP. For example, the Royal Australian Navy often does live firing off Jervis Bay to the south of us and sometimes even off Sydney. When they give out a Securite about it, they never, ever say where the geographical location is, just a quick statement of lat/long, repeated so quickly even I (with a pen and paper at hand) sometimes cannot write it down. Luckily our system records all calls so we can check. They never repeat it a few minutes later or give a warning that in two minutes I will give a warning about xxxx.

I also get annoyed with many professional marine people who speak way too quickly. For example, Sydney VTS (Sydney Ports) do the weather and everyone of the people doing it speaks way too fast, you could never note or write down what is being said.

I have a UHF radio in my car and it has a feature where I can play back the last call, very good if I miss exactly what was said. I looked for a VHF radio with the same feature but no luck.

Most people who call us with a problem (we get five to ten rescues a weekend) don't even know how to tell us the lat/long and you certainly cannot believe their statement of "a few hundred metres off xxx Point". Invariably the boat is found many miles from that spot.

We developed a system where we send an SMS to a boat, they click on the link in it and it sends us back their lat/long on a map. So much easier.

As others have said, if you set up your DSC radio properly, you can transmit the lat/long, but most do not seem to integrate with GPS, it is very easy to do.
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Old 10-11-2022, 01:54   #17
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Re: Mayday calls - where is that exactly?

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What an odd rant. I can't imagine not knowing my general lat/long. I mean, surely you have a general sense of your position... no? It's not like we're moving that fast a sailors, so surely you know your general coordinates? Beside, it's available constantly on all GPS/chart plotters. And even the most lackadaisical approach to logging would include jotting your position down occasionally.

I've no idea about my lat/long and I don't keep a log but yes it is available on the chart plotter that I and 99% of boats has at the helm.
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Old 10-11-2022, 01:58   #18
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Re: Mayday calls - where is that exactly?

One could tie one of those pencils they use to write on glass on a piece of string near the helm and write them down on the nearest smooth surface. If you want weather proof paper to keep in the cockpit a surveyors notebook will do the job nicely.
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Old 10-11-2022, 02:13   #19
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Re: Mayday calls - where is that exactly?

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I've no idea about my lat/long and I don't keep a log but yes it is available on the chart plotter that I and 99% of boats has at the helm.

So, how would you respond to a mayday call?
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Old 10-11-2022, 02:19   #20
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Re: Mayday calls - where is that exactly?

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So, how would you respond to a mayday call?
Plug the mayday lat/long into the chart plotter and see where it is relative to my location?

I think most people may have a general idea of their lat/long. I don't think most could rattle off their exact lat/long without pulling it up on the GPS and while nice in theory, it's probably an unrealistic idea to think most people could keep a running memorization of their exact lat/long.

Landmarks, channels, reefs, heading and distance to a recognizable feature are far more likely to gain the attention and response to a radio call than some random string of numbers.

Where the numbers come in handy is with automated systems but that's because computers can take that data process it and show a person on a map where the mayday came from.
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Old 10-11-2022, 02:21   #21
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Re: Mayday calls - where is that exactly?

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So, how would you respond to a mayday call?


DSC location appears in my chart plotter
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Old 10-11-2022, 03:07   #22
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Re: Mayday calls - where is that exactly?

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Plug the mayday lat/long into the chart plotter and see where it is relative to my location?

I think most people may have a general idea of their lat/long. I don't think most could rattle off their exact lat/long without pulling it up on the GPS and while nice in theory, it's probably an unrealistic idea to think most people could keep a running memorization of their exact lat/long.

Landmarks, channels, reefs, heading and distance to a recognizable feature are far more likely to gain the attention and response to a radio call than some random string of numbers.

Where the numbers come in handy is with automated systems but that's because computers can take that data process it and show a person on a map where the mayday came from.

Which is what I already said. Most boaters will have a general knowledge of their lat/long. Certainly not to the decimal minute, but degree and general minute seems pretty reasonable. From there itís easy to focus in on the mayday call that rattles off something close, and ignore those that donít.

The event may still be too far away, but if the call starts off by hitting your general area, only then do you need to get serious about knowing your exact location. If you have no clue where you are, youíd never know your relative position visa vis a distressed boat. That could be tragic.

As I said, other geographical info is also good and, when possible, even necessary. The objective is to get aid to the distressed boat, so use all tools.
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Old 10-11-2022, 03:20   #23
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Re: Mayday calls - where is that exactly?

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Which is what I already said. Most boaters will have a general knowledge of their lat/long. Certainly not to the decimal minute, but degree and general minute seems pretty reasonable. From there itís easy to focus in on the mayday call that rattles off something close, and ignore those that donít.

The event may still be too far away, but if the call starts off by hitting your general area, only then do you need to get serious about knowing your exact location. If you have no clue where you are, youíd never know your relative position visa vis a distressed boat. That could be tragic.

As I said, other geographical info is also good and, when possible, even necessary. The objective is to get aid to the distressed boat, so use all tools.


Itís easy enough to call the coast guard radio stat and ask them if you believe you can help. They will confirm the distress and your location
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Old 10-11-2022, 03:31   #24
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Re: Mayday calls - where is that exactly?

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Itís easy enough to call the coast guard radio stat and ask them if you believe you can help. They will confirm the distress and your location

Yes. Which is what one would, or at least should do, IF you think you might be close enough to render meaningful aid. But this requires a general idea of where you are visa vis the distressed boat. Otherwise, youíd have to call in every time you hear any distress call.
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Old 10-11-2022, 05:43   #25
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Re: Mayday calls - where is that exactly?

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One factor to consider is that the boat-to-boat range of a VHF is around 20nm (up to 30nm if conditions are perfect).

Therefore, if you canít hear the boatís transmission (only the shore station), it is probably more than 20nm away.

Given it will take you somewhere between 2 and 4 hours sailing to get there, probably not a lot you can do, given there are other resources around that can respond a lot faster.

Things may be different if youíre in a more isolated area, of course.

That's not foolproof though, as plenty of times around here, the USCG puts out a broadcast for an incident they learned about by someone calling on a cell phone.
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Old 10-11-2022, 05:43   #26
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Re: Mayday calls - where is that exactly?

Thereís an app for that. 3 Random words have been assigned to every square meter on the planet. Your phone has a gps.
Iíve rescued several boats mostly out of gas a couple buried in silt. I think our record is 5 in one week. I wouldnít call them Maydays more Pan pan pan but a couple were. The poker run on lake Simcoe booking across the lake south to north I veered off to an overturned boat. I pulled 3 off the boat and a corpse on my swim platform. The fella whom had drown was obese and overloaded the small boat alone. The boat looked new but I only saw itís bottom before it heading down to a shallow 40 bottom. They never had a chance to use a vhf.
For awhile the OPP had a volunteer marine group. So weíd get calls from Collingwood to go searching for a boat well before GPS worked. We used radar to find boats. Maydays were burnt starter motors out of fuel which we gave them a provincial bill for or were suppose to but never got the paper work. I canít image the South or North Channel of Georgian Bay, without fellow boaters coming to aid
Being a nice guy is hard on the dinghy back up gas stash. Just north of Regatta Bay in DogLeg channel a SeaRay Flybrige was sinking. I know the rocks he ran his side down. Someone beat me there to pull the couple off the boat. Turn out is was a US tourist and his mistress. We thought it was his daughter. I marked the wreck with a float and hid out the storm in regatta bay.
To your point it should be a part of our ethic training and gear to help each other. Liability is dramatically different between the countries tort laws in rendering assistance. As a certified rescue diver with all the certs of a paramedic Iím compelled to render assistance and canít be sued for any reasonable action in Canada. A Canadian attacked a grizzly bear with a ( made in the US ) Buck knife to rescue ab American tourist.
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Old 10-11-2022, 05:47   #27
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Re: Mayday calls - where is that exactly?

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It should be pointed out under GMDSS the MRCC , ie coast guard radio station is the distress coordinator until the on scene command role is established.

Hence you don’t attend a mayday unless tasked by mrcc [....] if you believe you can lend assistance contact the mrcc and let them do the thinking.

1) MRCC are procedurally oriented and like to do things by the book
2) They do not know the capabilities of me or my vessel
3) Until they have their own assets on the scene they know less about the situation than I do
4) They are a life safety organization and give **** all about saving people's boats or helping them through a stressful event in a way that will support them continuing to learn about and be engaged in boating

In busy areas where they have assets already in the water and nearby I will stay out of it.

40 miles from nowhere I will help if I think I can and advise them of what I am doing when time and radio conditions permit.
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Old 10-11-2022, 05:53   #28
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Re: Mayday calls - where is that exactly?

I usually just glance down at my chart plotter, which displays current Lat/Lon. It's pretty easy to do the basic subtraction or addition in my head. Minutes of latitude from me gives me nautical miles. Knowing generally where you are on the globe should give you an idea of the size of one minute of longitude. I'm usually below 45 degrees N, so it's more than a half-mile per minute.

Lots of times we'll hear a call, and by the time they're done I'll confidently tell the crew something like "that's about xx miles South, and more than xx miles East, of us."

Of course a geographic location with a place name helps, too. Unfortunately that requires local knowledge, at least in the US. Our new vector charts have omitted a lot of the place names which used to be on the old raster charts. The ones they did include are often unimportant inland locations which have no navigational significance. I still keep a raster chart app handy, but those will soon be obsolete.
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Old 10-11-2022, 06:38   #29
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Re: Mayday calls - where is that exactly?

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Which is what I already said. Most boaters will have a general knowledge of their lat/long. Certainly not to the decimal minute, but degree and general minute seems pretty reasonable. From there itís easy to focus in on the mayday call that rattles off something close, and ignore those that donít.
No, I think it's very optimistic to expect people to know (without verifying on a chart or GPS), the lat/long down to the nearest minute. It's just not how most people think. Nearest half degree is the best I could see and probably 95% of folks on the water couldn't do that.

Basically, if you can hear them on the radio, you know they are probably within 15-20miles and the nearest half degree doesn't provide much help.

I would be willing to bet most people on the water would do better using landmarks.
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Old 10-11-2022, 07:02   #30
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pirate Re: Mayday calls - where is that exactly?

If I hear a Mayday call on the VHF I will focus on the Lat the first time I hear it then go below and mark it down, this will give me some idea of the vessels location relative to me.. eg if I am at 41.13N and the Mayday is 42.21N I have a rough minimum possible distance and am alert for the next call when I will grab the Long and mark the resulting location on a pilot chart.
If within 6hrs sail I will alter course for that position and listen for situational updates from shore stations and shipping as I go.
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