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When a boat at sea needs help and fires a distress flare, can another boat locate this boat just based on the distress flare? How? Will the radar help pin point the co ordinates of the distress flare and hence the boat?
 

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The idea behind the flare is that someone keeping a look out will see the light and sail to where they saw the light to investigate.
Radar works on reflecting off metal so I doubt if it would pick up a flare.
Someone has to be looking out the window and then be curious enough to motor over close enough to see you even in the dark.

On the open ocean any light is a pretty significant anomaly.
It may spark some interest but on the ocean a lot of big ships rely more on ais and radar and are on tight schedules so unless they happen to be looking your way and not at their instruments for the 5 to 15 minutes that you would be in sight and happen to be in the mood they can often just keep on going. Everybody has a radio today so the idea that someone is depending on a flare to save their life may not cross their mind.

On coastal waters their are so many lights your flare may be lost in background lights.
Make sure you have a radio.

Technology changes things.

Years ago if I saw someone stranded on the side of the road I would always stop. Now I almost never stop as inevitably they say they already called for help with their cell.
It is more likely I will cause a problem trying to get off the road safely and find out their situation than to actually be of real help.

Same thing is on the water. Years ago everyone would check out any light, most of the time they were nothing but you didn't know so you checked.
Now since everyone has a radio or three I think most people don't check as many lights as they used to.

I would think a laser flare would be a better last ditch signal than a pyrotechnic device.
It is clearly not a natural occurrence. The laws take time to change.
 
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