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Old 04-27-2012, 08:09 PM   #41
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20 plus years in USCG SAR...use the VHF first...then the cel if you can't get a radio response. Anything else is irresponsible if something bad happens trying to get help via the phone...as a secondary...no sweat.

In fact the USCG will switch you over if appropriate or you request to.
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Old 04-27-2012, 08:42 PM   #42
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It would be interesting to know how many of the 23,000 rescue calls to the CG were true life or death emergencies where there was no time to use a cell phone because you were going under, versus calling because the battery was low and wouldn't start the engine as it was getting dark.

There are 2,880 members on this forum. Has anyone ever pushed the red button? Has anyone chose to use the VHF or cell who had an operational DSC? Why?
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Old 04-27-2012, 08:49 PM   #43
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Originally Posted by Great Laker View Post
It would be interesting to know how many of the 23,000 rescue calls to the CG were true life or death emergencies where there was no time to use a cell phone because you were going under, versus calling because the battery was low and wouldn't start the engine as it was getting dark.

There are 2,880 members on this forum. Has anyone ever pushed the red button? Has anyone chose to use the VHF or cell who had an operational DSC? Why?
When I was operations officer for the NJ Coastal region (1993-1996)...we "logged" about 3500 cases a year...out of those if 100 were life and death I would be suprised...now some may have developed into a bad situation but most were resolved because a simple radio call had good samaritans swarming all over the distress.

I think places like Alaska and more remote areas the percentage is much higher for serious distress...tourist places packed full of boats like the Eastern Seaboard from Boston to Mexico during the summer are chock-a-block full of inexperienced boaters that think if the stereo fails it's a MAYDAY.
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Old 04-27-2012, 09:05 PM   #44
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To build on what psneeld said, almost all the "distress" calls we hear on the radio in the northern Puget Sound/southern BC waters are resolved by other boats responding to the call. (Sometimes the "other boat" is a commercial tow service.)

Most of the calls are out of fuel, engine loss of power for some reason, or aground. The fact the intial distress call and subsequent dialogue between the boater and the USCG or the Canadian Coast Guard are on open VHF channels means a whole lot of people know what's going on and a number of them are in a position to offer help and they do. These incidents almost always end with a final coast guard broadcast saying that the distressed boat is being assisted by another boat or boats and no further action is needed.

Very often the boats coming to assist--- and there are often several--- are communicatiing directly on the VHF with the distressed boat and the coast guard, and all involved parties can hear and respond to what is being said. Trying to do all this by phone would be a nightmare, I think.

I can only recall hearing and following two life-threatening emergencies in the past few years. One, a sailboat slammed into a rock and the wife was projected down the companionway into the main cabin and was severely injured in a time-critical way. The second was a boat fire that put the people on board into the water. Both instances were reported and dealt with on the VHF. In the first instance a BC ferry diverted from its run immediately to head for the sailboat and in both instances numerous other boats headed immediately to the distressed boats.

I believe the only reason the response from a BC ferry down to small open sportfish boats was so prompt was that everyone in the area heard what was happening and reacted the moment the distressed boat went on the air.
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Old 04-27-2012, 10:02 PM   #45
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I was working on my boat one day in early March a year or two ago. We are on Lake Union. I watched a sailboat sink out on the lake. I could see people in the water on the opposite side of the lake. I did not even think of using my cell phone. I radioed the Coast Guard. Both the Seattle Police boat and a floatplane responded. The floatplane was the first to arrive with the police boat immediately after. Both were assisting the people in the water within three minutes of my radio call. I suspect a cell phone call to 911 would not have produced such immediate assistance.
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Old 04-27-2012, 10:07 PM   #46
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Originally Posted by Pineapple Girl View Post
Save the local USCG station's number in your cell phone and call them directly should the need arise.
Bingo!

or *CG

Nothing is stopping you from using your VHF for Mayday. You can post the instructions next to it. There is even a sticker. All the nearby boaters will hear it. Unless they're on their cell phones.
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