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rescue me

rescue me

Multiple racing tragedies over the past 13 months have many boat owners thinking ‘what if’ for the first time.  Ultra-experienced offshore racer and professional yachtswoman Ashley Perrin gives us a little rundown on the tech available to get you seen and heard if you end up somewhere you don’t want to be.  Like in the water, on a rock, or aboard a sinking boat.  From the Low Speed Chase Analysis thread:

I personally carry the standard horizon’s VHF with DSC either in my pocket or in my bum bag. I believe that DSC is one of the most important safety features that we have created in modern times. In the open ocean rescue is going to come from boats in the immediate area not the Coastguard no matter how well they deploy their assets. Having several levels of being able to attract attention in an emergency is important. 

  1. Flares – set off in pairs, especially the rocket ones. I know they are more expensive but get the SOLAS ones they are a lot brighter. The first flare grabs people’s attention they might see it out of the corner of their eye. The second one shows them where you are as they are now hopefully looking in the right direction. 
  2. GPIRB – (GPS enabled EPIRB) personal and boat ones with GPS are going to get the CG attention when you are out of VHF range. It will take a while for the satellites to pass over you and send your message on so don’t expect and instant response. They use 406Mhz then 121Mhz to direction find you once they are close. 
  3. SART – stands for Search And rescue Transponder, when activated, any vessel with a radar that is operating in the 9Ghz bandwidth will be able to home on your vessel (or life raft). 
  4. AIS transmit and receive – Automatic Identification System Class B is what most of us will be using and it is limited to VHF range (transmits at 2W). The price of one for your boat has decreased dramatically and it is excellent for collision avoidance with large vessels and is a great tactical tool too! There is also a new to the market personal AIS transponder for MOB situations, the range is maybe 8 miles and the gear is quite expensive at this early stage. 
  5. Laser flare – great rescue tool as they don’t go out of date, have 72 hours of life. Green for day time and red for night you can carry them all over the world and put one in your pocket when on deck. The range is 20 miles. The only downside is that they only work if you shine the laser towards your rescuer. See http://www.greatlandlaser.com/rescue-laser-flare-magnum.html
  6. DSC VHF – both handheld and inbuilt are awesome. All boats in range get the message with your position and have to read the message on their screens to silence the very loud alarm.

Make sure if you do a Mayday DSC that you follow it up with a voice call. It is really simple to set up. For all the boat owners that wondered what that red button is on your VHF it is a DSC button. You need to hook up the GPS to the unit (the new standard horizon’s have GPS built in) and go to the Boat US site to register your boat and get an MMSI number. Once you have that you can program it into your DSC-enabled device. 

With the above you have covered visual range, VHF range (2W, 5W and 25W), radar range and satellite range.