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Discussion Starter #1
Another case of premature action on an EPIRB.

A yacht some 200 nm north of New Zealand set off an EPIRB. The local SAR despatched an Orion search aircraft as well as diverting a Mearsk cargo vessel to began the hunt for them.

I heard a report on local radio today that said the vessel had experienced bad weather and had "damaged their sails" so they decided to set off the alarm. It has apparently been further confirmed that the vessel was otherwise undamaged and had enough diesel on board to motor all the way to NZ.

Go figure.
 

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Main Entry: panic
!pa-nik
Pronunciation: \ ˈpa-nik \
Function: adjective
Etymology: French panique, from Greek panikos, literally, of Pan, from Pan
Date: 1603
Results
<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD class=di_rn vAlign=top>1. </TD><TD class=di_rm>1 of, relating to, or resembling the mental or emotional state believed induced by the god Pan - panic fear
</TD></TR><TR><TD class=di_rn vAlign=top>2. </TD><TD class=di_rm>2 of, relating to, or arising from a panic - panic buying
</TD></TR><TR><TD class=di_rn vAlign=top>3. </TD><TD class=di_rm>3 of or relating to the god Pan </TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>


Most people don't know the origins of a Pan-Pan Radio call either!
 

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Telstar 28
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The captain and crew should be ashamed and forced to pay for the cost of diverting the Maersk cargo ship and the Orion SAR aircraft's time.
 

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At best, that is a PAN-PAN, although "damaged sails" shows a lack of seamanship in my view, because if your mast is still secure, you can rig almost any scrap of sail to get 200 miles...it's just going to take three days!

As far as I am concerned, you activate the EPIRB by chucking it on a line from the liferaft after your boat's sunk OR if someone's smashed their skull or had a heart attack or something. Imminent danger to life...not "my boat's no longer convenient".
 

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Telstar 28
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Unfortunately, too many sailors today, see inconvenience as a life-threatening event...

At best, that is a PAN-PAN, although "damaged sails" shows a lack of seamanship in my view, because if your mast is still secure, you can rig almost any scrap of sail to get 200 miles...it's just going to take three days!

As far as I am concerned, you activate the EPIRB by chucking it on a line from the liferaft after your boat's sunk OR if someone's smashed their skull or had a heart attack or something. Imminent danger to life...not "my boat's no longer convenient".
 

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It's easy to act tough when you are at a desk typing on a computer! Perhaps the people feared for their lives, one does not know the circumstances.
 

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It's easy to act tough when you are at a desk typing on a computer! Perhaps the people feared for their lives, one does not know the circumstances.
True enough I guess but an Epirb is an electronic SOS.

Frightened you may be, yea even scared witless, but it's not a good enough reason to issue a May Day. A Pan Pan yes , but not a May Day.

Valiente is quite correct, as you step off your boat into your life raft , that is the time to set off the Epirb.

If you are going to call in the heavy duty support network you need to be in real danger and I'm sorry but when you have a mast and a scrap of cloth you are not in a hopeless situation. (Presuming a reasonable amount of searoom.)
 

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They had enough fuel to get to a safe harbor. They had not been knocked down. They had not been holed or taking on water. AFAIK, there was nothing wrong with their boat except the sails were damaged. No was was injured AFAIK. Exactly what were they pulling the EPIRB trigger for???

The only thing an EPIRB should be used for is the equivalent of a MAYDAY...not a PAN PAN, not a SECURITÉ. If they can't take a bit of heavy weather... maybe they shouldn't be out there.

It's easy to act tough when you are at a desk typing on a computer! Perhaps the people feared for their lives, one does not know the circumstances.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Heard on our local radio station this morning that the three people aboard had been air-lifted off the vessel - don't know what the fate of the vessel was - hope it was scuttled.

Purely speculation but I think the folks on board had "had enough", the helo was out there so they bailed. If I hear anything to the contrary, I'll post it here.
 

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Doesn't appear that the boat was scuttled... so it's now a floating hazard to navigation instead...
 

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Splashed
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Danger or inconvenience?

It's like everybody wants "total security", and as soon as things become inconvenient it is perceived as danger.. While I'm not a proponent of wild west mentality I do believe that we need to get tougher, and challenge ourselves more... And it's probably still safer to be in rough water with torn sails, without communications equipment and engine than drinking a Latté in Rome?:cool:
(We do need more information about the actual incident to judge fairly, though)
 

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Seemingly they had some sail damage the SSB was out but after the epirb was set off they spoke by vhf to a plane and a rescue was called off. Some hours later they set the epirb off again and were taken off by helicopter. They were concerned that they did not have enough fuel to cover the distance of about 250 miles to port. A factor in their decision may have been that within 24 hours they would have been in a gale from a deep depression which may well increase and which could have driven them further offshore or put them on a lee shore. They also could be in the dangerous quadrant. Being off North Cape in that situation could likely have been pretty hazardous. Not all boats carry sea anchors and a drogue would not help if they turned out to be on a lee shore depending on the path the storm takes which is still uncertain.
 

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It's easy to act tough when you are at a desk typing on a computer! Perhaps the people feared for their lives, one does not know the circumstances.
One doesn't, but one does know the percentage of SAR calls later to be deemed "frivolous or misjudged" because one has just finished a course on GMDSS usage.

It's top of mind. My personal sailing history, which includes some pretty hairy weather, doesn't enter into it. Calling a MAYDAY because you are "scared" indicates to me a lack of proper training on when a MAYDAY (and the SAR apparatus put into motion thereby) should be called, but also a woeful state of preparedness to deal with fairly common misadventures at sea of the sub-lethal kind.

Would you think I was being "tough" if we learned that a real MAYDAY went unanswered, with fatal consequences, because these people were mistaken in their impression that torn sails would kill them?
 

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Not all boats carry sea anchors and a drogue would not help if they turned out to be on a lee shore depending on the path the storm takes which is still uncertain.
I recall faintly that NZ was pretty strict about their yachts being thoroughly equipped with safety gear. I am simply unclear about why they couldn't just steam back as far as they could go to NZ (unless they didn't fuel up at the same time as they forgot storm sails), and then issue a PAN PAN for fuel 50 miles off.

Yes, we don't have all the facts here, but the incidence of these type of calls is rising when by rights it should be falling. It's akin to assuming that airbags in cars enable drunk driving, because it's harder to kill yourself when you shouldn't be driving at all.
 

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Please allow me to offer a contrary opinion.

The time to activate your EPIRB is before you abandon your vessel, well before. For visibility alone, I would rather remain aboard a vessel still afloat than trust my fate to a life raft or life jacket. How many boats are found still afloat long after their crews abandoned them?

Although the news article doesn't indicate if any of the rescued crew members suffered injuries during their ordeal, it sounds as if these folks were so battered that they were willing to abandon a perfectly good (in our opinion?) vessel. Seasickness, bumps and bruises, physical and mental exhaustion, along with equipment failure all contribute toward a crew's decision to abandon. My guess is that these folks could no longer cope with their situation and with another storm approaching, authorities thought it wise to air-lift them to safety.

As far as activating their EPIRB, with no means to communicate their distress to authorities, what else could they do? It sounds as if they used it as a last resort, just like is says in the book.

It's all too easy to armchair quarterback some other skipper's decisions. This poor fellow made the decision that he felt was the correct one for that place and time. Ultimately, he and his crew reached shore safely and no lives were lost. Good for them!
 
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