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Old 03-09-2019, 17:02   #1
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Red flare sighting

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.

My VHF 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 is.

Since nobody was answering, I hauled directly the cargo that was sailing behind me, and asked to please relay my message to the Navy by phone 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?
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Old 03-09-2019, 17:50   #2
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Re: Red flare sighting

Maybe the navy had more info, from more sources.



What is a COB?


Have you tried to contact Brazilian SAR service asking for a follow up?


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Old 03-09-2019, 18:03   #3
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Re: Red flare sighting

[QUOTE=barnakiel;2968624


What is a COB?

.[/QUOTE]

MOB ???? (crew over board?)
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Old 03-09-2019, 18:04   #4
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Re: Red flare sighting

Crew Over Board
I'd assume like you that if the Navy was broadcasting something you didn't tell them they must be in contact with a better source. Sailboats are usually poor search vessels, I'm loathe to approach an unknown shoreline at night.
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Old 04-09-2019, 04:54   #5
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Re: Red flare sighting

Sigh. I was wondering when political correctness would take the time-honored "MOB" phrase away from us.

I agree it's a good thing to be more inclusive, and frankly it's getting a little uncomfortable explaining to folks why we stick with the "M" in MOB. But I'm still a bit nostalgic for traditions.

Now I see a new problem. What if a passenger falls over? Do we need to say "POB?" That always meant "persons on board" to me.

What about Guest? Do we need a "GOB" button on our chartplotters? How about the owner (OOB?) Captain is already covered by COB, but what about Master? Should we go back to MOB?

And of course, if the skipper falls over, he (or she) is an SOB!
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Old 04-09-2019, 05:35   #6
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Re: Red flare sighting

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Originally Posted by CaptTom View Post
Sigh. I was wondering when political correctness would take the time-honored "MOB" phrase away from us.

I agree it's a good thing to be more inclusive, and frankly it's getting a little uncomfortable explaining to folks why we stick with the "M" in MOB. But I'm still a bit nostalgic for traditions.

Now I see a new problem. What if a passenger falls over? Do we need to say "POB?" That always meant "persons on board" to me.

What about Guest? Do we need a "GOB" button on our chartplotters? How about the owner (OOB?) Captain is already covered by COB, but what about Master? Should we go back to MOB?

And of course, if the skipper falls over, he (or she) is an SOB!

I know sometimes, OK a lot of times, I'm WOB, Way Over Board.
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Old 04-09-2019, 05:45   #7
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Re: Red flare sighting

I think that under the conditions you did what was reasonable, B4A. You were not equipped to make a meaningful search at night, and at risk if you tried. You did intervene. You did your best, and your best was all that was available at that time and that place. If someone died that night, you do not need to carry guilt over it. You did more than anyone else. The professionals equipped to respond and obligated to respond appear to have dropped the ball.
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Old 04-09-2019, 07:16   #8
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Re: Red flare sighting

@ OP


It may also be viable to contact your own SAR institution (I think USCG if you are US person) inform them of your doubt and see if they can get feedback on institutional level.


I think it is worth the effort. One day me or you could be the one with the flare in hand.


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Old 04-09-2019, 07:23   #9
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Re: Red flare sighting

COB / MOB


OK. Thanks. I am not a native speaker and English is only my nth language.


Anecdotically, I searched my vocab for what C could stand for and the only maritime idea that popped up was 'cargo'.


Language is like a river, it is a flow. I have learned something today! Thank you for explaining.


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Old 04-09-2019, 08:40   #10
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Re: Red flare sighting

I saw something similar years ago from S.F. Bay. Brief red falling flash not far above the northern horizon. Learned later it was a really bright meteor (bolide) seen by many people hundreds of miles away up ih Oregon!
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Old 04-09-2019, 12:16   #11
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Re: Red flare sighting

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptTom View Post
Sigh. I was wondering when political correctness would take the time-honored "MOB" phrase away from us.

I agree it's a good thing to be more inclusive, and frankly it's getting a little uncomfortable explaining to folks why we stick with the "M" in MOB. But I'm still a bit nostalgic for traditions.

Now I see a new problem. What if a passenger falls over? Do we need to say "POB?" That always meant "persons on board" to me.

What about Guest? Do we need a "GOB" button on our chartplotters? How about the owner (OOB?) Captain is already covered by COB, but what about Master? Should we go back to MOB?

And of course, if the skipper falls over, he (or she) is an SOB!


You may laugh, but the US Army spent literally millions changing and reprinting aircraft manuals to change the cockpit to the crew compartment.
Then back years ago when they were first building a turbo prop the lady who ran Beechcraft at the time refused to let Turbine Inlet Temperature be used as its abbreviated as TIT. Instead the technically incorrect TGT or Turbine Gas Temperature was used, and is often still used.
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Old 04-09-2019, 12:34   #12
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Re: Red flare sighting

I've seen MOB, COB, and PIW in common use. I really should keep a coin handy to help select between them.
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Old 04-09-2019, 13:14   #13
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Re: Red flare sighting

Listening to Ch 16 one day this summer, a Canadian Forces plane made a Securité call announcing that they would be conducting some exercises testing flares in the area. About an hour later a yacht called in a sighting of a red flare, and the coastguard immediately responded with an All Stations call for more information. At this point I could no longer hear the aircraft on the VHF, but they obviously confirmed it was one of theirs. The coastguard then admonished them for using a red flare instead of a white one, but they must have got a response back that they only had red flares.

Unfortunately I could still only hear one side of the conversation, but it was still entertaining listening to the coastguard demand that they immediately cease and desist from deploying any more red flares. As the conversation continued the coastguard had clearly phoned up their most senior lawyers and were issuing statements (with contact information for their legal teams) that it was illegal for *anyone* (including the forces) to use a red flare except in distress, and if they continued there would be a legal follow-up.

So at least here, they take a sighting of a red flare very very seriously. You did the right thing to report it, and if you're not in a position to safely assist, that's about all you can do.
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Old 04-09-2019, 15:09   #14
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Re: Red flare sighting

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptTom View Post
Sigh. I was wondering when political correctness would take the time-honored "MOB" phrase away from us.

I agree it's a good thing to be more inclusive, and frankly it's getting a little uncomfortable explaining to folks why we stick with the "M" in MOB. But I'm still a bit nostalgic for traditions.

Now I see a new problem. What if a passenger falls over? Do we need to say "POB?" That always meant "persons on board" to me.

What about Guest? Do we need a "GOB" button on our chartplotters? How about the owner (OOB?) Captain is already covered by COB, but what about Master? Should we go back to MOB?

And of course, if the skipper falls over, he (or she) is an SOB!

Yep, it took me a while to work out what COB stood for.
I agree with you 100%.

Let's just say that now MOB stands for "Mortal Over Board" and keep using it.
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Old 06-09-2019, 14:33   #15
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Re: Red flare sighting

Quote:
Originally Posted by oldersalt1944 View Post
I saw something similar years ago from S.F. Bay. Brief red falling flash not far above the northern horizon. Learned later it was a really bright meteor (bolide) seen by many people hundreds of miles away up ih Oregon!
Thanks for this. I really hope this was the case as well.
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