Boatie who called Mayday could have canceled it – Maritime NZ

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The skipper of a yacht who launched a Mayday appeal last week failed to cancel it after reaching calmer seas, but Maritime New Zealand will not take action against him.

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The yacht, Tribe, issued a distress call Wednesday evening off the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, triggering a major search and rescue operation at the wrong location.

Maritime New Zealand said that in an eight-meter swell at nightfall, the skipper radioed that his yacht was taking on water and sinking.

“He gave the coordinates to the best of his ability,” Maritime NZ said in a statement.

“He had a portable VHF radio strapped to his clothes, but after communications with the marine radio were cut off, he could no longer use or listen to his radio.

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“He was under high stress, in a very noisy environment, struggling on his own to manage his yacht and keep his inexperienced crew member safe in rough seas, strong winds and increasing darkness. heard no radio messages from him and broadcasts to all ships in the search area. “

After making the Mayday call, he was able to sail north using the engine and, after several hours, reached calmer seas. Tribe was eventually discovered at Bream Bay, a few kilometers from Whangarei. The two people on board were safe.

Maritime NZ said the skipper’s radio was on at the time and he could have canceled the call.

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“The key messages for all boaters are: take two watertight ways to call for help and if you think life is in danger, don’t hesitate to make a Mayday call – a delay can be fatal”, a- he said in a statement.

Another vital piece of equipment recommended by Maritime NZ is a distress beacon, which, when activated, informs the New Zealand Rescue Coordination Center of your distress via a global satellite system, and the beacon can be hosted.

“In this case, the skipper does not seem to have sufficient understanding of the distress channel, VHF channel 16, which is monitored 24/7 by Maritime NZ’s maritime radio service. Maritime NZ has discussed this with him. .

“If you make a Mayday call and the situation changes for the better, then make another radio call to cancel the Mayday. You will be thanked for the cancellation – no one will be critical or angry.”

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Maritime NZ said if people activated a beacon and were no longer in danger, they should make sure to leave it on until contacted by rescuers. If they turned it off, Maritime NZ will know where the beacon was activated, but have no way of knowing if they’ve moved or what happened.

In this case, the skipper of Tribe had a distress beacon but did not activate it or he would have started a second search based on the location of the beacon, according to Maritime NZ.

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