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What to do if you break down over 20 miles out?

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What to do if you break down over 20 miles out?

Old 02-03-2019, 06:05 AM
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Originally Posted by tcpip95 View Post


Well, if that's the case the CG will issue a call to all boaters to BOLO in the vicinity of xx.xx.xx LAT by yy.yy.yy LONG for a vessel that has activated an EPIRB/PLB.

No. Again, EPIRB's do NOT communicate. They cant distinguish between being out of fuel or broken down, from a life threatening situation. What if everyone that was out of fuel activated an epirb? The amount of SAR's that would be initiated? Thats a lot of first responders and resources wasted. An experienced boater will assess the situation, and make contact with someone.

An epirb is for emergencies, and life threatening situations.
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Old 02-03-2019, 06:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Polapea View Post


Let them start an expensive search and rescue mission? What do you think happens when you activate an EPIRB?

An EPIRB is the equivalent of a MAYDAY call. If youíd put out a MAYDAY call because youíre out of gas then I question your judgment. That is not a situation where life or the boat are in immediate danger.

Using the radio and issuing a PAN-PAN call is the appropriate course of action. That will get enough attention. If that doesnít work flares when vessels are nearby. Still doesnít work then eventually I may hit the EPIRB but Iím certainly not doing it because Iím a couple hours overdue. BTW when you activate an EPIRB the first thing they do while trying to reach you is call your emergency contacts. So whatís going to worry them more, being a few hours overdue or them being informed your EPIRB has been activated?

Iíve been overdue and had the CG called on me. The CG isnít launching S&R if youíre overdue a few hours. Youíll get hailed and theyíll issue a BOLO. Once they reach you theyíll put on radio guard until you get to port.
Exactly
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Old 02-03-2019, 06:10 AM
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When an EPIRB/PLB is activated - they know your position to within 30 ft. They know who you are, and in some cases ( ased on your SAR card) what type of vessel you're in.

When you're reported missing, they only have a general area to search.

Activating an EPIRB/PLB is going to save everybody involved a lot of time and money.
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Old 02-03-2019, 06:13 AM
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Don't panic. Read Oceanluver above. It's an opportunity to come up with a solution..there's always a solution.
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Old 02-03-2019, 06:14 AM
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I have a spot locator and I can send a non life threatening help message but I wish I would have picked up an Inreach because it can send more detailed messages and receive texts. Spot is ok but the messages are preprogramed, I have one that states I'm ok and another that says send non emergency help aka Seatow, then there is an oh crap button that will activate emergency services
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Old 02-03-2019, 06:18 AM
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Originally Posted by tcpip95 View Post


1. When you've tried everything you know but can't start the boat, or know the problem and can't fix it with what you've got on board.
2. When you can no longer hear VHF radio chatter, or you've tried unsuccessfully to reach anyone on VHF, and you're nearing the end of your float plan.
3. When temperature and/or the elements are going to push you into conditions that you are not prepared for (food, clothing, shelter, medicine prescriptions, etc.).

Now you're in an emergency situation. I know I am. Don't try and be Johnny Quest. Push the button.
This. When it is obvious the situation will be resolved without help and epirb is the only apparent way to get help. Conditions do not have to be bad

This would be a good question for Paul.
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Old 02-03-2019, 06:20 AM
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Originally Posted by noelm View Post
You don't activate your EPIRB because you are broken down, that's kind of like calling 911 because your pizza is cold, much to your surprise, if you break down, doesn't mean you're dead or your boat will flip over, the correct method to call for assistance is radio, phone, flares and anything else long before your EPIRB comes out.
Actually the hull truth is just the opposite. A coast guard chief explained it to me this way. If its getting dark and you have not returned, your wife is going to call and say that she doesnt know where you are. They will then have to launch various boats and aircrafts to search North, south, east , and west. He told me if you simply set off your epirb/plb then we know where you are and only need to send one craft. He told me always set it off, you are not bothering us , and our guys need the training,
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Old 02-03-2019, 06:26 AM
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Originally Posted by barrell View Post
Actually the hull truth is just the opposite. A coast guard chief explained it to me this way. If its getting dark and you have not returned, your wife is going to call and say that she doesnt know where you are. They will then have to launch various boats and aircrafts to search North, south, east , and west. He told me if you simply set off your epirb/plb then we know where you are and only need to send one craft. He told me always set it off, you are not bothering us , and our guys need the training,
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Old 02-03-2019, 06:33 AM
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Originally Posted by popeyeiii View Post
OP - You are pretty well equipped, but I think the one thing you could use to fill the gap between a VHF and the EPIRB is a garmin InReach. It will allow you to have 2-way text communication with anyone on dry land. You can text someone you know on land and they can call SeaTow for you.
This! For 300 bucks and 15 a month this is a must have if your out of cell range, anyone receiving your texts will also have your position. There are preset texts that you can send to several people at once in emergency situations. The garmin earthmate app allows you to text through the Inreach with your iphone when they are connected via Bluetooth..
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Old 02-03-2019, 06:36 AM
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If you plan to go offshore, you should have a radio with Digital Selective Calling (DSC) capability (most radios now-a-days have it). There will be a big red “distress” button on the radio.

Got to boatus.com and register your vessel, you will get issued a unique Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) Number. Program that number into your radio using the directions in your manual (it is easy).

Plug your GPS into your radio and make sure your radio displays your position accurately.

When you issue a digital distress message by pressing and holding the distress button for 5 seconds, your message goes directly to CG shore station and includes MMSI identity number and position. If time permits you can designate the nature of distress. The CG knows who you are, where you are and the nature of your distress. All other DSC equipped vessels in your vicinity also receive this valuable information. The distress is relayed from vessel to vessel, digitally, until it reaches the CG.

This method should be used in lieu of an EPIRB/PLB for the scenario provided.
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Old 02-03-2019, 06:38 AM
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Here in NJ, we regularly hear and communicate with land based stations while we are canyon fishing. 80+ miles from shore. My antenna is about 15’ to the top from the water. When I say land base stations, that includes, the coast guard, sea tow, boat us and the girl parking boats at Farley State marina in Atlantic City lol.
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Old 02-03-2019, 06:43 AM
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I can tell you I had a fuel issue awhile back , it was blowing hard , and I was worried we would be pushed onto rocks or beach , I called in a pon and within 30 seconds police chopper responded , i asked where he was he said look up , told me a fire rescue is about 4 mins away and they tied along side held us in position till sea tow responded ,,, most awesome response and professional service Ive ever seen .... when I explained what happened , 100% captain error they passed no judgement , no fines , and said it happens .... thankfully we where fine . I learned lesson Illl never forget ,Never use your full fuel capacity to reach a destination
THANK YOU TO NYPD,FDNY, COAST GUARD , AND SEA TOW ......
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Old 02-03-2019, 06:56 AM
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First time i have heard of InReach. A pretty cool piece of equiptment....

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Old 02-03-2019, 07:01 AM
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This question should be given to Paul Barnard "USCG Safe Boating D8". Paul has established a thread under the title "USCG Safe Boating D8" specifically to answer questions like this and provide the Coast Guards guidance.
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Old 02-03-2019, 07:31 AM
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You could hail the CG while out 20-30-40-50 miles. As long as you prearranged with CG they may assign you a channel other the 16 to hail them 22,23, 9 .
as long as they expect your call as a communication only there should be no problem. This can also help them knowing how far you can transmit . I would call before you leave the inlet on 16. They will ask for a cell phone. Then they call you and you could explain your intentions. If they are too busy they will just say no.
I did this while making a 90 mile run on one engine in very heavy weather. I checked in every 30 minutes with lat long.
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Old 02-03-2019, 08:49 AM
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If you are planning on running offshore frequently, you need to have a reliable two way communication device. A built in VHF with a good antenna of course is a no brainer. If there are boaters in range, and they respond, for something simple like running out of fuel, you may well be able to get immediate help from one of them who could siphon off some fuel to you or relay your plight to the Coast Guard or Sea Tow. But nowadays, there's really no excuse for not having an InReach or a Spot or a SatPhone as a back up. A SatPhone obviously is the best bet because you can carry on a normal conversation and explain your situation and your needs. They are not very expensive, and if you're running offshore a lot, you can afford a sat phone along with other important safety gear like an EPIRB and life raft.

Activating an EPIRB for running out of fuel should be your last resort, but if you've tried everything else and no one is responding to you after a couple of hours -- or conditions are deteriorating -- I wouldn't hesitate to use it. I've been out where conditions deteriorate so quickly that you can get into a life threatening situation very fast, and you don't want to put everyone in jeopardy, including the Coast Guard personnel, because you waited too long to activate your EPIRB because you weren't in immediate danger even though you were disabled and had no means of solving your situation. You would NEVER be chastised by the Coast Guard for activating your EPIRB if you had exhausted all other means first after reasonable efforts and had no success in summoning assistance.
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Old 02-03-2019, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by barrell View Post
Actually the hull truth is just the opposite. A coast guard chief explained it to me this way. If its getting dark and you have not returned, your wife is going to call and say that she doesnt know where you are. They will then have to launch various boats and aircrafts to search North, south, east , and west. He told me if you simply set off your epirb/plb then we know where you are and only need to send one craft. He told me always set it off, you are not bothering us , and our guys need the training,
I have a hard time believing this. Every EPIRB activation I've been involved in, they send nothing short of the spanish armada plus a helicopter. Never have I seen one boat simply because, as I've said earlier, they have no idea if your having a heart attack, or out of fuel.

OP there have been many good points for your question, but activating an Emergency position-indicating radiobeacon is not one of them.

Should you be stranded for a while (highly unlikely under 100 miles out) and the weather deteriorates and poses a threat to your crew and vessel WHILE your DISABLED, then by all means thats a reason to activate it.
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Old 02-03-2019, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by dxs217 View Post

When you issue a digital distress message by pressing and holding the distress button for 5 seconds, your message goes directly to CG shore station and includes MMSI identity number and position. If time permits you can designate the nature of distress. The CG knows who you are, where you are and the nature of your distress. All other DSC equipped vessels in your vicinity also receive this valuable information. The distress is relayed from vessel to vessel, digitally, until it reaches the CG.

This method should be used in lieu of an EPIRB/PLB for the scenario provided.
I didn't know about this radio to radio DSC functionality. Another reason why VHF should be turned on every time you fire up the motors.
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Old 02-03-2019, 09:29 AM
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Issuing a Pan-Pan call is the correct thing to do. Any vessels in VHF range should respond. If you canít get in direct contact with tow boat or USCG via VHF they can likely relay your call.

I was towed in from 18mi out recently, was dead in the water for a brief moment before I could get starboard motor running. I was overwhelmed by the situation (but remained calm) and failed to issue Pan-Pan call, but was able to hail a huge freighter that was in my line of sight. He relayed my message and hung around until I made contact with USCG who in return got the tow boat on its way.

After much reflection on the situation I know what I did wrong in my attempts to hail other vessels and will forever know to issue a Pan-Pan the next time I have a non life threatening emergency.
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Old 02-03-2019, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by barrell View Post
Actually the hull truth is just the opposite. A coast guard chief explained it to me this way. If its getting dark and you have not returned, your wife is going to call and say that she doesnt know where you are. They will then have to launch various boats and aircrafts to search North, south, east , and west. He told me if you simply set off your epirb/plb then we know where you are and only need to send one craft. He told me always set it off, you are not bothering us , and our guys need the training,

I don’t think any us are saying don’t use your EPIRB. What we are saying is exhaust other avenues before hitting the switch.

1. Use the VHF and the appropriate PAN PAN call. This is one step below MAYDAY and it will get someone’s attention.
2. Visuals such as flares can also be deployed if other vessels are close

If all the above isn’t getting you anywhere and it’s likely that you are far enough overdue that it’s reasonble to think the Coast Guard has been notified and they may be commencing SAR operations, hit the button. Based on some of the responses it seems like you guys are hitting that switch if you’re 2 hours overdue and your beers getting warm.

I’d add a couple things

When filing a float plan discuss overdue contingencies. A realative calling the CG because you’re 2 hours late is jumping the gun IMO, 4+ hours, make a call. I spell this out, “I’ll be back between 2-4 pm, if I’m not in by 8pm call the CG.” (Learned this from experience.)

When your relative does call the CG in an event like this, they most likely aren’t launching SAR immediately. They’re going to try and hail you, issue a BOLO etc for some time before they even consider SAR. As I previously said, this happened to me, I was 2 hours overdue and a realative called the CG. They hailed me and probably issued a BOLO but they weren’t scrambling Jayhawks. Had it been a maelstrom they may have reacted differently but in the scenario we’re discussing they aren’t going to go crazy immediately.
On the other hand when an EPIRB is activated SAR resources are immediately scrambled. IMO that level of response isn’t warranted unless it’s a life threatening situation or you are so overdue that the CG is likely going to be looking anyway.



Last edited by Polapea; 02-03-2019 at 09:46 AM.
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