MAYDAY last Thursday 9th July

bromleybysea

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We were on our way from West Mersea toward the Spitway last Thursday when we heard what thought was an extraordinary misuse of the mayday procedure. Bearing in mind that I didn't hear the original call so there may be missing information, it appears that the yacht -- , a 32' yacht with 4 persons aboard had run aground somewhere near the Barrow No 3 buoy and issued a mayday call. It appeared that there was no structural damage to the yacht and that she was not taking on water. Now, this was late morning and low water at the Spitway was about mid-day, and it was virtually windless, so what was the imminent threat to the vessel or life and limb in this situation? After about 40 minutes -- reported that she had refloated and was proceeding at 5 knots toward her original destination. By this time, a rescue helicopter was overhead and the coastguard had requested the Walton lifeboat to attend. To add to what must have been, by now a pretty humiliating situation for --'s skipper, the coastguard insisted on hourly reporting by VHF. Now, there are two questions here. Firstly, the seamanship of --'s skipper in making a mayday call in these circumstances when it could reasonably be anticipated that he would float off with no damage in less than an hour, which she did, and what seems to have been an over-reaction of the part of the coastguard. It was of note that the coastguard didn't seem to be sure if he was Thames or Humber, so I do wonder whether local coastguards at Walton might have had a better grip on the situation, before it was closed down. Anyway, I might have got this completely wrong, but it seemed to me a colossal waste of time and resources.
 
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Pye_End

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Difficult to say without being on board. If it is a fin keel, and bouncing on the sand, then may well have been a good decision. It must be hard to know how much stress such a boat can take in a grounding, and after the high profile keel losses the temptation is probably to be cautious. However, if it was flat water, a gentle grind to a halt, strong boat and no bouncing then a mayday may have been made due to skipper stress rather than rational decision making.
 

Sniper

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We heard it too, as a mayday relay from TC. I must admit to similar feelings as the OP, BUT I wasn't there and I don't know all the circumstances so I can't comment further. A complete guess on my part but I wouldn't be surprised if the helicopter was already out on routine exercise and saw it as an opportunity for practice.

A vessel of a similar name came up the Orwell late afternoon; if that was the same boat she was progressing under her own power.
 
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Boz

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Channel 16 has provided several informal 'Emergency' calls over the past few weekends. I don't think any have used formal Mayday procedure. Thames Coastguard manage these calls very professionally though converting them to Mayday calls if circumstances dictate. The one I remember was a motor launch that was obviously trying to get into the Roach through the backdoor and was high and dry on Maplin, He sounded Italian but certainly wasn't panicking, he just sounded understandably miserable on the VHF.

Unless it has happened to us personally, it is difficult to judge whether the A4 heat sealed script next to the radio would be used. I like to think it would be and rehearsals with the crew (her indoors) have taken place.

There were several DSC alarms over the weekend all from the French CG, they certainly, noisily, focus the mind....
 
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Colvic Watson

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Classic PanPan - make the coastguard aware of a potentially serious situation - wash from a passing ship could pound you pretty darned hard and a fin could push through - that sand is like concrete; but no present danger to life. Skipper panicked and called in a mayday at which coastguard now has to assume the worst and take control.
 

FullCircle

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Reporting VHF traffic by naming a boat is out of order in my book. Possible illegal too. By all means discuss an anonymous situation.


Indeed it is illegal....


Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006

section 48 Interception and disclosure of messages

(1) A person commits an offence if, otherwise than under the authority of a designated person—

(a) he uses wireless telegraphy apparatus with intent to obtain information as to the contents, sender or addressee of a message (whether sent by means of wireless telegraphy or not) of which neither he nor a person on whose behalf he is acting is an intended recipient, or

(b) he discloses information as to the contents, sender or addressee of such a message.

Full text at http://www.opsi.gov.uk/Acts/acts2006/ukpga_20060036_en_5#pt2-ch5-pb2-l1g48
 
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nortada

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Wasn't there so can't comment beyond saying there is no such thing as being over cautious in an emergency situation. Better to be called but not required. rather than the opposite.

Judge not so ye shall not be judged!
 

bromleybysea

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[/QUOTE]Indeed it is illegal...[/QUOTE]
Maybe, I'm not too sure given the precise wording. I await the early morning raid by whatever outsourced agency enforces the wireless telegraphy act these days. Its a strange provision anyway, given that the correspondence is pretty public. My point, remains valid however. A mayday should only be used when there is risk to a vessel or to life and limb. Aground on a sand bank in a flat calm at the bottom of the tide does not meet that threshold, even if the vessel is about as seaworthy as a polystyrene cup. I'm not judging the actions of the crew of the yacht concerned, even if my OP did sound somewhat censorious. I have been in a situation myself where, due to my own stupidity, I put myself and my ship in real risk and I called the coastguard as a pan pan for information and advice. I think there is a real public interest in the use of publicly funded resources and also in preserving the Mayday "system" for real emergencies.
 

MoodySabre

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I think there is a real public interest in the use of publicly funded resources and also in preserving the Mayday "system" for real emergencies.

Nobody would disgree with that. I hate to think how much it costs to send out a 'copter. OTT by the sound of it - the skipper must have sounded terrified to warrant that.
 

Pye_End

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Aground on a sand bank in a flat calm

How hard did they hit the bank? What sort of boat was it? How do you know it was flat calm where they were - it only takes a slight swell to bounce on and off the bottom. The skipper in the circumstances may have felt that there was imminent risk to his/her vessel so may have been entirely justified. Since keel failure gives no warning - they may well not have wanted to wait and see as it all gets very serious very quickly. On the other hand it may have been as you describe - good conditions, strong boat, and the skipper panicked. Having seen the boat that ended up on Herne Bay beach a couple of years ago following keel failure after a grounding, and the lightness of construction, I could sympathise with the skipper!

Suspect a pan pan in these circumstances would also have led to the lifeboat being called out in view of where it was. No idea about helicopter - perhaps have depended on the judgement of the CG operator after getting more information from the yacht?
 

Colvic Watson

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Nobody would disgree with that. I hate to think how much it costs to send out a 'copter. OTT by the sound of it - the skipper must have sounded terrified to warrant that.

It may well have cost nothing. There is a requirement to fly a surprisingly high number of monthly sorties in order to train, and maintain currency, a shout counts toward that number. Equally they may have been training in the vicinity; when I called in a panpan relay I was surprised to see Rescue 125 overhead ten minutes later - they'd been doing crew training nearby.
 

sailorman

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It may well have cost nothing. There is a requirement to fly a surprisingly high number of monthly sorties in order to train, and maintain currency, a shout counts toward that number. Equally they may have been training in the vicinity; when I called in a panpan relay I was surprised to see Rescue 125 overhead ten minutes later - they'd been doing crew training nearby.


i thought tat 125 had been pensioned off & bristo had taken over
 

Cantata

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RAF Sea King 125 indeed appears to be still operational.
The new CG Bristow-operated helo's were originally to be based at Manston, but that place closed unexpectedly some time ago. I heard that they will now be based at Lydd (just inland from New Romney and Dungeness) so maybe the change of base has caused delays in the handover.
 

NickC

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We were on our way from West Mersea toward the Spitway last Thursday when we heard what thought was an extraordinary misuse of the mayday procedure...

bromleybysea, perhaps you might like to edit your original message to remove the name of the vessel involved (also if Sniper could remove the repeat of this as well). That way others might feel more comfortable discussing the matter anonymously.

Those of us that heard the whole laborious call from start to finish already have the phonetic name of that vessel permanently imprinted on our brains by the number of times it was repeated by 'Thames' coastguard, no need to repeat it any more.

As for the helicopter I recall mention it was in the area at the time on a training exercise and, as there was some debate as to the vessel's actual position, offered to attend.
 
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