In the Bounty in Troble thread, a poster had asserted that the proliferation of electronic nav tools, coupled with the proliferation of EPIRBs, was contibuting to more and more cases of Search And Rescue (SAR) events caused by inexperienced sailors taking on extended voyages, crossings, etc. He posted a chart from the international SARSAT organization, which tracks all of the various EPIRB, ELT and PLB activations and the SAR responses. Of course, the total number of such activations include Aircraft emergencies, PLBs carried by hikers, etc. The document summary breaks the "events" down in three categories: Aviation, Maritime, and Land. The poster pointed out the increasing number of maritime activations each year since the advent of the system to support his claim. His claim of dramatic increases in SAR missions was contrary to the U.S. Coast Guard stats which show a dramatic DECREASE in SAR missions over the last decade or so. Of course, the number of EPIRBs in use has grown exponentially, so it would follow that the number of activations would increase somewhat. I was somewhat surprised that worldwide, there were only 317 maritime activations TOTAL in 2011. The 2010 report is no longer linke on the site, bet the maritime number was ~350. Total activations including Aviation, Maritime and Land in 2010 was 641, 2011 total was 644.
I got curious, so I searched throught the whole COSPAS/SARSAT report, to see what the breakdown of "Maritime" events were. In many cases, the vehicle description is simply "Vessel" which is not very helpful. Example:
Date of Incident: 03-Jan-11 Location: 33°56' N 044°22' E
Type of incident: Maritime
Type of beacon: EPIRB Vehicle: Vessel
Vehicle Name: Call Sign:
Reporting MCC FMCC Beacon Country: Belgium
Persons Involved: 3 Persons Rescued: 0
Cospas-Sarsat provided only alert
Details of Incident: Vessel capsized.
Beacon Frequency: 406.028 MHz
Beacon Hex ID: 99A9930A34D35D1
Is Beacon Registered? No
Sometimes the description of the response yielded enough info to determine type, in quite a few others I googled the vessel name and location to get an answer. Many events resulted in a tow back to port, but most did involove an actual rescue. I just finished the first 6 monhts of 2011, and stats for "Maritime events" include 68 labled as Fishing Vessels, some of which may have been private craft, but most of them were commercial. By FAR, the vast majority of deaths in the EPIRB activation events were on Fishing Vessels. There were only 12 listed (or determined by web searching to be) Cargo vessels of one kind or another, but they were second in number of deaths. There were 62 that were Motored pleasure crafts from rubabouts to >50' motor yachts. Others "events" were listed as: 4 Kayaks, 2 PWCs, 2 Tugboats, 9 Dinghies (all of the "dinghies" were in or around Aus and NZ).
Back to the original topic: There were 27 S/Vs, and three deaths from those 27 incidents. One solo sailor in the Bay of Biscay, and two on the Berserk yacht off Antarctica.