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Old 10-11-2022, 06:16   #31
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Re: Mayday calls - where is that exactly?

I can say these days in my head I only know my lat long to nearest degree
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Old 10-11-2022, 06:17   #32
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Re: Mayday calls - where is that exactly?

On this topic, I was delighted to find out that the Coast Guard is not the unapproachable bureaucracy that one might think.



Here in Boston, we were getting (usually junior) CG radio operators relaying mayday and pan-pan calls using just numerical lat/lon cooordinates, followed by grouchy captains cluttering up channel 16 by angrily asking for geographic location.


I wrote a note to the local command, pointing out that a lot of us operate small boats with open cockpits with nobody sitting at a navigator's desk, and that adding a few words of geographic reference (e.g., "approximately 5 miles southeast of Cow Island Lighthouse at xx.xxxxx yy.yyyyy" instead of just "xx.xxxxx yy.yyyyy" gives everyone listening a chance to think either "This is near me, I'd better note the coordinates" or "This is 25 miles away, no point grabbing the pen and paper."


I got a very polite and positive response and started seeing the change almost immediately.

It's not about knowing vs not knowing your approximate lat/lon, it's more about getting the attention of boats in the area prior to providing the lat/lon.
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Old 10-11-2022, 06:40   #33
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Re: Mayday calls - where is that exactly?

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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.
This brings up an important distinction.
- On an ocean crossing, there are likely to be limited vessels near enough to provide assistance and at the same time landmarks will provide little or no benefit, so lat/long becomes a more critical.
- Coastal cruising, in most areas, it's likely going to be long finished by the time you get there if it's 6hrs away.

Of course, more than 6hr away, you probably aren't going to hear it on the VHF anyway.
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Old 10-11-2022, 06:53   #34
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Re: Mayday calls - where is that exactly?

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As we all know I'm sure, 1 minute of latitude = 1 nautical mile. This very rough mental measuring tool should tell you fairly quickly how realistic it is for you to be of help.

And at 45 deg lat, north or south, 1 deg longitude is "about" one half mile. At 22 deg it's around 3/4. Close enough for a quick rough estimate in both axies.
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Old 10-11-2022, 07:25   #35
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Re: Mayday calls - where is that exactly?

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This brings up an important distinction.

- On an ocean crossing, there are likely to be limited vessels near enough to provide assistance and at the same time landmarks will provide little or no benefit, so lat/long becomes a more critical.

- Coastal cruising, in most areas, it's likely going to be long finished by the time you get there if it's 6hrs away.



Of course, more than 6hr away, you probably aren't going to hear it on the VHF anyway.


These days most ocean deep sea alerts will be epirb anyways. Mrcc will try and relay back through nearby vessels by Inmarsat or MF / or less commonly MF

Two way epirbs Are deployable these days as well as sat based text orientated.
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Old 10-11-2022, 07:30   #36
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Re: Mayday calls - where is that exactly?

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So, how would you respond to a mayday call?
I would look at the chart plotter to see my lat/long but in the summer my VHF is usually off anyway but it will show on the NAVTEX.
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Old 10-11-2022, 07:41   #37
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pirate Re: Mayday calls - where is that exactly?

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Originally Posted by valhalla360 View Post
This brings up an important distinction.
- On an ocean crossing, there are likely to be limited vessels near enough to provide assistance and at the same time landmarks will provide little or no benefit, so lat/long becomes a more critical.
- Coastal cruising, in most areas, it's likely going to be long finished by the time you get there if it's 6hrs away.

Of course, more than 6hr away, you probably aren't going to hear it on the VHF anyway.
True that it might be over but for me turning 70* either side of my course is no hardship.. 180* may give me pause, however.. having been in the situation of being immobilised and my Hull split and deck join opened by 17ft following a collision along with a Genoa split up it's luff 5nm S of Start Point where the other boat fled the scene, 5 other sailboats in sight yet none responded to my call for assistance or to the CG's call for vessels in the area to assist.. my attitude has greatly changed and since 2001 I have followed the principle of closing the casualty till I hear the situation is resolved or multiple vessels assisting.
Shore VHF service can be picked up a long way out, I can still hear Falmouth CG weather S of Ushant into the Biscay over 100nm away.
I may not arrive before others but.. I'll not be one of those a§$€holes who can't be bothered trying..
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Old 10-11-2022, 07:47   #38
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Re: Mayday calls - where is that exactly?

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[...] in the summer my VHF is usually off anyway [...]
Laws differ in different jurisdictions of course, but not maintaining a watch on VHF channel 16 is likely running afoul of the law, not to mention the moral obligation to listen for possible distress calls from our fellow mariners. I know it sucks in the summer with all the inane chatter on 16, but legally and morally that's neither here nor there.
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Old 10-11-2022, 07:52   #39
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Laws differ in different jurisdictions of course, but not maintaining a watch on VHF channel 16 is likely running afoul of the law, not to mention the moral obligation to listen for possible distress calls from our fellow mariners. I know it sucks in the summer with all the inane chatter on 16, but legally and morally that's neither here nor there.
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Old 10-11-2022, 07:55   #40
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Re: Mayday calls - where is that exactly?

I agree we all have an obligation to help when we can. And I will head toward a vessel in distress if there's any chance I could help. But be careful about committing to helping when you're not really the best option.

I remember one case where the CG waited hours, with darkness and bad weather approaching, for a "Good Samaritan" in a 6-knot sailboat to travel to the location of a vessel in distress. One boat was damaged in the storm on the way in, and they almost both ended up on the rocks due to lack of local knowledge and darkness. The CG was so afraid of the commercial tow operators that they didn't want to use CG assets while a Good Sam was on the way.
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Old 10-11-2022, 08:56   #41
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Re: Mayday calls - where is that exactly?

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I agree we all have an obligation to help when we can. And I will head toward a vessel in distress if there's any chance I could help. But be careful about committing to helping when you're not really the best option.



I remember one case where the CG waited hours, with darkness and bad weather approaching, for a "Good Samaritan" in a 6-knot sailboat to travel to the location of a vessel in distress. One boat was damaged in the storm on the way in, and they almost both ended up on the rocks due to lack of local knowledge and darkness. The CG was so afraid of the commercial tow operators that they didn't want to use CG assets while a Good Sam was on the way.


Yes always better to make contact with the controlling mrcc if possible before assisting
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Old 10-11-2022, 10:22   #42
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Re: Mayday calls - where is that exactly?

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In almost all instances, I'm left wondering, where is that exactly?
I totally agree. I sail on Lake Erie and I hear a few distress calls every day. They don't always give the Lat/long. The call didn't always come in via VHF.
Sometimes it's just "We have received a report of a kayak in distress off Big Bob's Point. All boaters in the area of Big Bob's Point are requested...BOLO... blah blah". The Coast Guard I hear includes all of Lake Erie, West Ontario, and South Huron. Where the heck is Big Bob's Point? Would it really be that much harder for them to say "Big Bob's Point west of Buffalo"? That would solve the problem.
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Old 10-11-2022, 10:31   #43
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Re: Mayday calls - where is that exactly?

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I totally agree. I sail on Lake Erie and I hear a few distress calls every day. They don't always give the Lat/long. The call didn't always come in via VHF.
Sometimes it's just "We have received a report of a kayak in distress off Big Bob's Point. All boaters in the area of Big Bob's Point are requested...BOLO... blah blah". The Coast Guard I hear includes all of Lake Erie, West Ontario, and South Huron. Where the heck is Big Bob's Point? Would it really be that much harder for them to say "Big Bob's Point west of Buffalo"? That would solve the problem.

I guess the assumption is that if you are close to the place, you’d know it.

I bet in this kind of situation the CG is relaying what they know. The CG probably doesn’t even know where Big Bob’s Point is either. At least in Canada, the CG stations have been so consolidated that they now cover massive areas. There’s no local knowledge anymore.
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Old 10-11-2022, 10:52   #44
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Re: Mayday calls - where is that exactly?

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I guess the assumption is that if you are close to the place, you’d know it.

I bet in this kind of situation the CG is relaying what they know. The CG probably doesn’t even know where Big Bob’s Point is either. At least in Canada, the CG stations have been so consolidated that they now cover massive areas. There’s no local knowledge anymore.
I suppose. A lot of those calls come from someone on shore who saw someone on the lake and uses the local nickname. If I'm not at my home turf, I don't know the local nicknames. The CG could ask the caller the nearest city.
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Old 10-11-2022, 12:54   #45
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Re: Mayday calls - where is that exactly?

Some of what you hear on the VHF depends on whether the areas you frequent use repeater stations. If the stations your VHF is scanning include them, and where we are, they do, the calls' origins may be on the other side of the state. So just be aware of how it is in your local area. Obviously if it is not a duplex channel, it will be within 25 mi.

I was quite struck by Boatman 61's story of boats being unwilling to assist him, and the extremely humane and practical decision he has made on account of the incident he experienced. It really costs one very little to alter course towards the vessel in distress till the all clear is sounded. And if you're in radio contact, you can check from time to time.

Where we are, the expectation is that local vessels will help each other, and it is pretty unusual that the police will be involved (there is no coast guard where we are, and no tow companies, either). So far, this is working well, and yachties and fishermen help each other, too.

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