A couple of days ago, at 03:00 am in the morning, while sailing north some 10 miles offshore
the coast in Brazil
, I saw a red flare in the sky descending toward the water
. It was a matter of a split second.
The night was dark with no moon. 20 knots of wind
on the beam, waves 2.0 meters.
I looked at the radar
and couldn't see anything in the direction of the flare. I looked at the AIS
, and there were a couple of cargos going north 10 miles behind me, and 1 going south in front of me.
was on channel 16. I heard no communication.
What I did was taking a picture of my lat and long on the i70. Then I called a Mayday Relay saying I sighted a red flare and giving my lat and long. No one answered. We were about 15 nm from the nearest port where the Navy
Since nobody was answering, I hauled directly the cargo that was sailing behind me, and asked to please relay my message to the Navy
and to be on the lookout.
I did not alter my course toward the location where I saw the flare. I am not equipped for a long range visual inspection
at night, I have no night vision binoculars or long throw flash light. I knew that the Navy could have been on the location in 30 minutes or less with their fast boats.
I waited to be called on the radio
by the Navy and to be given instructions. But this didn't happen.
After 30 minutes or so, the Navy base broadcasted a message, the reception
was very weak. The message was in Portuguese first, then in English
. The English
message mentioned a vessel in distress
and a COB. They gave lat and long (I didn't take notes, so I'm not sure if it was the same I gave) and asked all vessels in the area to keep a sharp eye out.
30 minutes later, same laconic message from the Navy.
Had I been in open ocean, I would have turned and searched the area. But been so close to the shore, the Navy base been only 15 nm away, I thought that it was too risky for me. I wanted to get to the next port in daylight and I only had a couple of hours of margin. Plus, as I said, I was not equipped for a search at night.
Also, in the back of my mind there were 2 other considerations:
1) Maybe it was a drunken fisherman on a jangada with an expired flare that wanted to have some fun.
2) Maybe it was a pirate lure?
The thing that doesn't add up is why the Navy mentioned a COB. I only reported a red flare, which is Vessel in Distress
. Maybe somebody else reported a COB? But I did not see anything on the radar
. Must have been a very small boat
What would you have done in my place?