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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, 08:05 PM
  #101  
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If you break down only 19 miles out, you're OK then? The issue revolves around being simply broken down and trying to contact somebody by regular means, or sending out a distress call via your EPIRB, which should not be done straight away because you might be late home for lunch, no one is saying not to use what you have available, but, you need to fully understand your circumstances before you send out a world wide alert.
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Old 02-04-2019, 02:59 AM
  #102  
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I'm one who lost all power due west of Tarpon Springs Fla one afternoon in 2014...

New to me boat with some charging issues. Battery switch was in "All". That was my first big mistake.

When the livewell, gps and bottomfinder drained the two start batteries low enough, I got a low voltage alert on my Furuno. As I was assessing the problem it went dead. Along with everything else that was powered by the two batteries on board.

Turned everything off and waited...one by one tried to start my motors. But no bueno. Having no power meant my VHF was not going to work. At that minute I was ready to activate my PLB....leaving the EPIRB as a backup incase that did not work.

But I retrieved my fully charged hand held and from the bow of the boat I was able to reach the coast guard......and BoatUS. They both picked up my 5 watt signal. from their antennas. My Std Horizon did not have a gps location display, so at the USCG request I activated my PLB, and within a minute they had my location...which was given to BoatUS and they deployed help. My only mistake was making a "Mayday" call instead of a "Pan-Pan"...but I was anxious to get my message out and probably didnt think that part thru...

Within an hour we were being towed in....which was covered thru my policy.

Within a week, I had found the issue with the alternators on my Hondas and had rewired the boat to accept a third house battery, as there was not one. All of the electronics, lights and livewell were moved to the new battery leaving the start batteries to start the motors and provide power to the windlass on one of them.

We overnight fish during snapper season, and that one group 34 battery will last well into the morning....finally starting to die off around 5 AM. It is charged thru two Yandina 100 relays and the system seems to work well. Starting either motor at that time will charge the house battery.

EDIT: we were 26 miles offshore. We have also added a jump box to the items I now bring aboard
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Last edited by triumphrick; 02-04-2019 at 08:50 AM.
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Old 02-04-2019, 04:39 AM
  #103  
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Originally Posted by triumphrick View Post
I'm one who lost all power due west of Tarpon Springs Fla one afternoon in 2014...

New to me boat with some charging issues. Battery switch was in "All". That was my first big mistake.

When the livewell, gps and bottomfinder drained the two start batteries low enough, I got a low voltage alert on my Furuno. As I was assessing the problem it went dead. Along with everything else that was powered by the two batteries on board.

Turned everything off and waited...one by one tried to start my motors. But no bueno. Having no power meant my VHF was not going to work. At that minute I was ready to activate my PLB....leaving the EPIRB as a backup incase that did not work.

But I retrieved my fully charged hand held and from the bow of the boat I was able to reach the coast guard......and BoatUS. They both picked up my 5 watt signal. from their antennas. My Std Horizon did not have a gps location display, so at the USCG request I activated my PLB, and within a minute they had my location...which was given to BoatUS and they deployed help. My only mistake was making a "Mayday" call instead of a "Pan-Pan"...but I was anxious to get my message out and probably didnt think that part thru...

Within an hour we were being towed in....which was covered thru my policy.

Within a week, I had found the issue with the alternators on my Hondas and had rewired the boat to accept a third house battery, as there was not one. All of the electronics, lights and livewell were moved to the new battery leaving the start batteries to start the motors and provide power to the windlass on one of them.

We overnight fish during snapper season, and that one group 34 battery will last well into the morning....finally starting to die off around 5 AM. It is charged thru two Yandina 100 relays and the system seems to work well. Starting either motor at that time will charge the house battery.

Thank you for passing along your experience. I never gave it too much thought of how to actually handle the same situation if it were to happen. Hopefully more people than just myself can learn from your experience.
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Old 02-04-2019, 05:12 AM
  #104  
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Originally Posted by gregb5220 View Post
Would a sea anchor count as "anchoring?"
No. You still have a drifting target, and that's the big concern.
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Old 02-04-2019, 06:44 AM
  #105  
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Originally Posted by alloyboy View Post
Don't know if it has been mentioned but a hand held aviation VHF radio can be had for not a lot of money. Many air liners will monitor guard channel 121.5. They will be able to hear you from possibly a hundred miles away. Maybe more. Those rascals can be way up there. You can also use it to talk to the SAR crews if and when they are homing in on you on 121.5 after you have activated your EPIRB.
Not sure that is how it works. What channel number is this on the vhf?
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Old 02-04-2019, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Gary999 View Post
Not sure that is how it works. What channel number is this on the vhf?
121.5 MHz (VHF) and 243.0 MHz (UHF) are two emergency radio channels for aviators. We used to carry the PRC-90 emergency radio in our survival kits. 121.5 MHz also was used for a parachute beacon. If a parachute opened up, it started emitting a beacon on 121.5 MHz so SAR teams could find you.

Don't know if they still use them or not as this was many years ago.

Last edited by tcpip95; 02-04-2019 at 07:45 AM.
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Old 02-04-2019, 07:32 AM
  #107  
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Originally Posted by triumphrick View Post
I'm one who lost all power due west of Tarpon Springs Fla one afternoon in 2014...

New to me boat with some charging issues. Battery switch was in "All". That was my first big mistake.

When the livewell, gps and bottomfinder drained the two start batteries low enough, I got a low voltage alert on my Furuno. As I was assessing the problem it went dead. Along with everything else that was powered by the two batteries on board.

Turned everything off and waited...one by one tried to start my motors. But no bueno. Having no power meant my VHF was not going to work. At that minute I was ready to activate my PLB....leaving the EPIRB as a backup incase that did not work.

But I retrieved my fully charged hand held and from the bow of the boat I was able to reach the coast guard......and BoatUS. They both picked up my 5 watt signal. from their antennas. My Std Horizon did not have a gps location display, so at the USCG request I activated my PLB, and within a minute they had my location...which was given to BoatUS and they deployed help. My only mistake was making a "Mayday" call instead of a "Pan-Pan"...but I was anxious to get my message out and probably didnt think that part thru...

Within an hour we were being towed in....which was covered thru my policy.

Within a week, I had found the issue with the alternators on my Hondas and had rewired the boat to accept a third house battery, as there was not one. All of the electronics, lights and livewell were moved to the new battery leaving the start batteries to start the motors and provide power to the windlass on one of them.

We overnight fish during snapper season, and that one group 34 battery will last well into the morning....finally starting to die off around 5 AM. It is charged thru two Yandina 100 relays and the system seems to work well. Starting either motor at that time will charge the house battery.
I go out in the same area. A no-power situation is the worst. Haven't been there yet. I carry an 8W handheld VHF for just such situation. You must not have been that far out for them to pick up your HH VHF signal. On my cuddy's 25-watt VHF I receive CG Mobile and Clearwater 70 miles out but highly doubt they'd hear me. The PLB is the last resort for me. Don't want to leave the boat out there. It's kept on my Type-V basically for MOB recovery.

The only time I broke down in the gulf was 2 miles off Anclote River park, in the channel when the Etec blew the lower gearcase. Snapped the prop shaft and ejected a gear out the side of the housing! We'd been out 30 miles and were coming in at sundown. We we're towed in by a passing boater.

Best of luck!
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Old 02-04-2019, 07:45 AM
  #108  
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Lost all electrical 15 miles out due to a short that kept popping my main breaker, that I could not find while my deep V boat is rolling itself out drifting.

Got my VHF going and called Tow Boat. Would have activated PLB only if I could not get help via other means. During the 2 hour wait for tow boat, several boats passed within easy range of being hailed with a flare.


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Old 02-04-2019, 07:56 AM
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People should consider adding one of the small & lightweight lithium jump-start batteries to their offshore gear just in case you run all the batteries down.
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Old 02-04-2019, 08:41 AM
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Default Kicker !

We routinely run 60 to 75 miles out on our 2008 Df 300 with small kicker on 24 grady. This year were upgrading our kicker to a new 25 fourstroke and beefier bracket and have linkage connected to big outboard as well as fuel line to main tank. Always bring a spare extra charged battery. Routine maintenance every year on big motor and fuel water separators are monitored like a hawk after every trip and changed every 6 to 8 months. We have delorme inreach, epirb, VHF, and ditch bag.
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Old 02-04-2019, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by tunnles View Post
You shouldn't even have to ask!! If you haven't planned for this kind I eventuality you are not fit to own a boat !! so on you knees !
He is planning for this eventuality, that's why he's asking on the forum...
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Old 02-04-2019, 09:45 AM
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I keep one of those jump starter batteries kits with me. It has come in handy several times at the launch when batteries were low and nice to have on boat. They are compact and far easier to handle than an entire battery. While I haven't noticed the one I have has the ability to actually jump start an engine, hook to the batteries and it charges them fast enough and gives enough boost to get you started.
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Old 02-04-2019, 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Gary999 View Post
Not sure that is how it works. What channel number is this on the vhf?
They don't use channels. They use frequencies. Simply tune to 121.5 Mhz. Make a call. Someone will probably answer.

Some will have an emergency button to push for tuning to 121.5
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Old 02-04-2019, 10:12 AM
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Jump starter and also have a fold up solar panel to charge whatever. I run 4 batteries with twins. I would drop anchor. You always hear chatter in the gulf even 50 miles out.

Ive pulled alot of people in. Usually exit out of stump pass. Lots of yankees out on a single battery single motor setup. New boat stuck every day in lemon bay as its flats. Rarely see CG

Worst case you back stroke it in or float to they keys lol
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Old 02-04-2019, 10:45 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.
Originally Posted by tcpip95 View Post
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.
I agree with you on this! If all else fails, an epirb will get you help.
What some here are probably not considering, is that bad weather (and waves) can come up suddenly, and being on a boat that has no power easily can become an emergency situation.
IMO, it's better to call before the weather turns bad, and get help on the way than after. It's easier to deal with in daylight than at night also.
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Old 02-04-2019, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Polapea View Post



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.




Of course. The discussion with wife or others who may report you missing is something most of us dont do. I never know where I may end up in the ocean but I usually return by 5pm.

Last edited by barrell; 02-04-2019 at 11:38 AM.
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Old 02-04-2019, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by tunnles View Post
You shouldn't even have to ask!! If you haven't planned for this kind I eventuality you are not fit to own a boat !! so on you knees !
??

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Old 02-04-2019, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by TTaxi View Post
Good point about the VHF. The OP mentioned he leaves his off if near shore but i believe any boat with a working VHF is required to monitor VHF ch 16 unless activelusing a working channel. That requirement is horrendously ignored by too many boaters, due to some extent to the abuse of Ch 16 for way too many radio checks..
I was at the beach on Mustang Island on some holiday weekend a few years ago, don't remember which. Out of nowhere like 20-30 personal boats appeared 1-200 yards off the sand and a CG helo shortly after. I didn't know wtf was going on at the time but later found out a kid had gotten pulled out to sea by undertow currents and the CG issued a call to all available boats in the area to aid in the search. Sadly, they didn't find him but if he had managed to stay on the surface I have no doubt someone would have spotted him. Keep your radio on.
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Old 02-04-2019, 12:06 PM
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My wife and I have been fishing our 21' DC Whaler offshore for the last 17 years (anywhere from 10 - 50 miles). We have all the safety equipment mentioned but one of the most important to me is our sea anchor. We practice deploying it at least once a year. The reason it's important if you break down it will not only slow your drift but give you the ability to control how your boat drifts in rough weather. We've never had to use it be know how to use it.

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Last edited by bluewaterpirate; 02-05-2019 at 06:00 PM.
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Old 02-04-2019, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by USCG Safe Boating D8 View Post
No. You still have a drifting target, and that's the big concern.
Interesting. Thanks for the info Paul, very valuable. Personally, if I'm in an offshore capable boat and disabled with fair weather, a sea anchor to keep my bow into it and not taking on water I don't consider myself in distress. Would definitely let the CG know of the situation tho so I don't get taken out by a ship.
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