View Full Version : Mayday calls and false alarms. Epirb.

26-11-2009, 09:33 PM
I was recently out on Port Phillip Bay the other day when I heard a "Mayday " call on the 27meg. Two blokes had a dead engine. Melb Coast guard replied to the call. The boat gave its rough location as well as a mobile phone number.

I was only a few k's away and had a jumper pack. I conversed with the Coast Guard by my own radio and gave my mobile number out over the air.

After a short time nothing further was heard from the boat. I continued to look.
I then had a call from the Water Police who stated it appeared to be perhaps a hoax. They thanked me anyway. The Coast guard then came up on the radio stating the same.

Within 30 sec my mobile rang and it was the stricken boat calling me. The bloke was in a bit of a panic. He pleaded with me that it wasn't a hoax. He stated he contacted 000 on his mobile, set off two flares as requested. He could hear on his radio but could not transmit out.

It seemed that because of past hoaxes this bloke was left on his own. I asked his to let loose a smoke flare. Within 10sec I could see it a few k away.

The bay was now chopping up. I contacted Coast Guard with my observation.

In the end I reached two nervous blokes with a dead motor in a rising chop. The jump pack did nothing but I managed to tow them back and I informed the Coast Guard of this.

These blokes had flares, radio, mobile phone and still it really wasn't enough.

On this occassion they were not sinking.

Please Santa send me an Epirb for Christmas.:)

26-11-2009, 09:47 PM
Good Karma coming your way mate. They were just damn lucky you were taking the call as real..

Better to check things out properly, a life is worth more than a couple of litres of fuel and a bit of time off the clock to check it...

26-11-2009, 10:49 PM
well done Sinker I bet you are glad that you broadcast your phone number and didn't go home and see it on the news

26-11-2009, 11:23 PM
Good to see em with the safety stuff and listening to the radio after their call. Glad they knew how to let off a flare and had the balls to call and follow it up early before it got worse- we all probably leave things too late in a emergency and things can only get worse. Great result good on ya. Hard call by Police and coast guard but I woldn't want their job. Jesus the Police can check your lic number or address on the system to prove who you are and know it is a valid call.

Did any closer boats notice the smoke and attend?

Where they monitoring either VHF or 27 MHZ?

Did other idiots stay silent on teh radio?

Hope they shouted some beer!

Please Santa get a proper dual battery set up and a handhelf VHF as well?

26-11-2009, 11:31 PM
does this classify as a mayday call though? my understanding is no...

edit - maybe this contributed to the 'hoax' thought - ie a mayday call for a dead battery?

27-11-2009, 12:27 AM
Mik01....if your in Port Philip Bay, and its starts to chop up, especially close to the entrance, and you have lost your power, i think Mayday is appropriate, it can be a very nasty piece of water, and many boats and lives have been lost in those circumstances. A bit like breaking down on a run out tide with a 25knott NE wind and drifting towards venus banks.


27-11-2009, 08:03 AM
The below is only from Wiki for a Pan Pan but I think the skipper did the right thing as he could see that weather was going to make the situation worse - unsafe for his vessel or his experience. He may not have known the exact rules or been under duress.


I am glad they are safe, would have been a miserable and possibly tragic outcome if the mobile didn't work , am a little worried about the official responses , I know there are hoaxes but find it hard to see that they if the authorities were told the "flat battery " that they wouldn't realise that the radio might not transmit , get his mobile number as a back up?

2 rocket flares missed especially while a mayday was in action by all boats - bloody hell - did people see them and ignore them?? No one

It can be hard at times to describe exactly where you are especially in a stressfull situation but even wind and wave direction can narrow it down and what landmarks you can see at what angles. No GPS??

I'd rather call early with a pan pan and / or mayday and swallow my pride later and donate some fuel and beer to authorities and anyone put out. Would be just happy to be helped / rescued.

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Nautical examples

Examples of the correct use of a 'pan-pan' call from a boat or ship may include the following cases, provided the skipper or master remains confident that they can handle the situation and that there is no current danger to the life of any person or to the safety of the vessel itself.
Once the urgent situation which led to the Pan Pan broadcast has been resolved or contended with, conventional practice is for the station that initiated the Pan Pan call to make a follow-up broadcast to All Stations, informing them that the urgent situation no longer exists.
A call that originates as a Pan Pan signal might be followed by a Mayday distress call if the situation deteriorates to the point of "grave and imminent danger", thus warranting immediate action (intervention, assistance, response) on the part of listeners in accordance with standard operating practices for distress signaling.
Fouled propeller, engine failure or out of fuelProvided the vessel is now either anchored or under sail and safe from any immediate danger of collision or stranding. The crew may be planning to clear the propeller, refuel from an onboard supply, hoist sail or use some other alternative propulsion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternative_propulsion). Alternatively, as part of the 'pan-pan' call the skipper may request a tow from a suitable vessel, if possible, but without immediate urgency.Small fire on board - now extinguishedFire can be very dangerous afloat but if it was small and contained and is now certainly put out without injury to any crew, then a 'pan-pan' call is appropriate to warn others that investigations are underway to establish the extent of the damage, clear the smoke from below and hopefully re-establish passage as soon as possible.Unsure of positionProvided there is no apparent danger of stranding or hitting rocks, a 'pan-pan' call on marine VHF radio (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_VHF_radio) may allow nearby coast-stations and perhaps other vessels to triangulate (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_direction_finder) the source of the transmissions and provide the skipper with both a fix (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fix_%28position%29) and perhaps some advice on the best course (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Course_%28navigation%29) to steer to reach a safe haven.Man-overboard recoveryIf safely recovering a person overboard, a 'pan-pan' call on VHF makes other nearby vessels aware of the extraordinary situation and ensures that they keep a sharp lookout, avoid coming too close, avoid excessive wake or otherwise interfering. It also alerts them to the fact that the recovery vessel is maneuvering for urgent life-saving and is therefore 'restricted in her ability to maneuver' in accordance with the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Regulations_for_Preventing_Collision s_at_Sea). If the recovery vessel has lost sight of the person overboard, if the person overboard loses consciousness, if there is a danger of hypothermia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypothermia) or any other grave risk to life, then a mayday (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mayday_%28distress_signal%29) call is more appropriate so that other nearby vessels may offer help with the search and recovery, rather than keeping clear.Medical assistanceA 'pan-pan medico' call is appropriate if someone becomes injured or in need of medical help at sea. If the vessel is heading to shore and wants to be met by an ambulance crew, the local Coast Guard station can arrange this. A doctor or other trained medical advisor may also be available on the radio, perhaps by patching through via telephone from ashore or from a nearby vessel. Again, if there is immediate risk to life, then a mayday (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mayday_%28distress_signal%29) call is more appropriate. Marine Rescue Organisations, such as Coastal Patrol, Coast Guard & Search and Rescue listen on marine radio frequencies (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marine_VHF_radio) for all distress calls including 'pan-pan'. These organisations can coordinate or assist and can relay such calls to other stations that may be better able to do so.

27-11-2009, 08:04 AM
WOW! job well done, the poor bloke kept trying to get the engine started until there was not enough juice left in the battery to transmit.

A comedy throughout all the players except yourself.

This scenario needs to be replayed to the authorities within future training exercises as an example of how not to manage a marine call for assistance.

cheers fnq

27-11-2009, 03:54 PM
Well done mate... I would have thought a Pan Pan call first would be more appropriate and then if things got a lot worse, a mayday, but either way it was solved in the end.

28-11-2009, 08:30 PM
How many more people are going to perish in PPB relying on mobile phones and silly little radios before the proper decisions are made?

28-11-2009, 10:29 PM
just occured to me that if this bloke logged on with his details....the VMR would have known he was out there and who he was....so it would be unlikly to call it as a hoax.

Oh yeh...If he'd have put out a pan pan call.....that would have been much less likley to be called as a haox............most numb skull hoaxers would never have heard of a pan pan call.


29-11-2009, 01:01 AM
If there is imminent danger to both vessel and lives.....mayday is the appropriate call. In the circumstances described, I know PPB, and how it can arc up. I also know Moreton bay and how it can arc up. There are certain scenarios in both places where Mayday is more appropriate than pan pan.


29-11-2009, 09:50 PM
In this situation the "stricken" vessel had a mobile phone and marine radio (27meg). The vessel made contact with the Coast Guard and Authorities chose not to respond. I have a feeling the descision not to repond was made by Police and that message was relayed to the Coast Guard.

I'm not going to argue the rights and wrongs of their decision not to act. I'm sure hoax calls present a problem. However I was supprised that they had a choice not to search.:o

If an EPIRB was activated would the response have been any different? Are authorities compelled to make enquiries when an EPIRB is set off. And if those enquiries are unable to determine whether the registered owner is safe and well will a search then take place or can Authorities take an educated guess and not attend?

If I had an EPIRB can I rely on Authorites for help? Obviously I can't rely on their help via 27meg or Mobile phone!:-/

29-11-2009, 09:53 PM
One other thought. Did it really matter if the wrong termonolgy was used. Pan Pan or Mayday! I regard both as urgent calls for assistance. Unfortunately no assistanace was coming from Authorities.

30-11-2009, 06:43 AM
Well done Sinker. I have an opinion on the Pan Pan v Mayday issue, but it really isn't relevant to the great effort on your behalf, so will refrain so this thread does get hijacked into a debate. Re EPIRB, yes they must respond.

Kudos to you.


Jarrah Jack
30-11-2009, 08:24 AM
Surely the police could ask for car rego and trailer details then check the park to see if it all matches up. I know a hoax could include that too but it would be hard to match the names on the rego of all three - car, boat and trailer.

On the subject of the epirb response, there is the case in torres strait were a fisheries boat set off an epirp which was put on the backburner by the local police and Canberra. It resulted in the deaths of all the crew.

04-12-2009, 07:27 PM
On the subject of the epirb response, there is the case in torres strait were a fisheries boat set off an epirp which was put on the backburner by the local police and Canberra. It resulted in the deaths of all the crew.

There are lots of such cases, one very good simple reason for the change, now all we hear is they cost too much :-X

04-12-2009, 07:32 PM
well done mate yo have shown your class you should be proud of yourself and so should your family you may have saved a life

04-12-2009, 07:55 PM
Makes you think the $400 bucks for an EPIRB is not such dead money afterall, if he had one and flicked the switch he would have had company fairly quick I'd reckon!

Still need the radio in case there is a chance of another fisho coming to your aid, but at least you would know the big boys are coming!

08-12-2009, 10:21 AM
Makes you think the $400 bucks for an EPIRB is not such dead money afterall, if he had one and flicked the switch he would have had company fairly quick I'd reckon!

Still need the radio in case there is a chance of another fisho coming to your aid, but at least you would know the big boys are coming!

Are they coming? Are you certain? Can they call it a hoax and not search?:o

Is your $400-600 Epirb going to guarantee a search? Yes I know there is precious little else you can do to prepare for the worst. But Epirbs seem to be marketed as guardian angels. Yes they are great tools but do they guarantee a search? Should we be relying heavily on them?

I want to know that when I activate the Epirb help is quickly on the way. I don't want to wait or tread water hoping that someone will respond!

08-12-2009, 08:19 PM
1. A properly registered 406 Epirb will not be treated as a hoax

2. Yes your $400-600 Epirb will guarantee a search if properly registered, registration is a mandatory requirement

3. An Epirb is the best piece if Kit you can have in dire circumstances and will certainly out perform all other safety devices in such circumstances