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Avoiding the Rocks #134395
07/04/2017 09:49 AM
07/04/2017 09:49 AM
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CDavis2 Offline OP
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I am having some trouble uploading my entire post so I will break this into multiple submissions:

I wanted to pass along our recent experience in the event that it helps someone else down the road. The reason I am passing along the feedback is that I that I am sure there are other people like ourselves that could become a little too complacent with the perceived safety associated with boating in an area like the BVIs where you can almost always see land and tend to have relatively calm seas.

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Re: Avoiding the Rocks [Re: CDavis2] #134396
07/04/2017 09:50 AM
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We started our trip on June 21st out of the base on Tortola. The trip went very smoothly and we ended up in the North Sound. On Wednesday night we attempted to run both our engines to heat up water for showers and the starboard engine would not turnover. Our charter company spent several hours diagnosing the problem and attempting to resolve it but it was determined that the error code resolved in having to replace the controllers which required parts to be shipped in. The charter company agreed to meet us to swap boats once we were closer to base. As a result on Thursday morning we limped out of the BEYC docks on one engine and headed back towards Tortola with some ominous weather heading our direction. We stopped briefly at Marina Cay for lunch and decided to do the swap at the base instead of a mooring ball.

Re: Avoiding the Rocks [Re: CDavis2] #134397
07/04/2017 09:51 AM
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After we departed for the base we moved slowly out the Marine Cay mooring field and along Beef Island towards the Drake Channel. A power boaters worst nightmare hit us right at the Southeastern tip of Beef Island next to an area called the Bluffs when we lost our Port engine and had no power to the boat.

At this point we were about 300 feet from shore and still experiencing heavy seas since that area is not well protected and we were still hitting the rougher weather from the storm system. My wife (also our captain) attempted to re-start the boat but the controllers were not engaging the engine at all. I made the recommendation to get an anchor down as quickly as possible. I was able to get anchor down but we were still in 70’ of water so we continued to drift back until we obtained a better scope on the anchor.

Re: Avoiding the Rocks [Re: CDavis2] #134398
07/04/2017 09:54 AM
07/04/2017 09:54 AM
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My wife called our base which was relatively close and requested emergency assistance. I am not sure exactly how long it took for cavalry to arrive with a boat to tow us back but it must have been the longest 30 minutes of my life even though our anchor was holding once it reached about 40’ of water and we had drifted to within 100 feet of the shore.

The rough water also made it feel like it was much longer than it really was since our boat was taking a beating with the large swells. During this waiting period we had also managed to prepare a rear anchor for emergency deployment and get life jackets and other saved equipment to our entire crew.

The tow back was a little challenging given the need to get lines across in rough seas and the issue of towing a relatively large boat. Our crew and the charter base manager did a great job and aside from a couple minor scrapes from the tow everyone was in good shape. I can tell you that pulling up the anchor so the charter base crew could throw us lines was especially unnerving since I was giving up our life line to not slipping backwards into the rocks.

Re: Avoiding the Rocks [Re: CDavis2] #134399
07/04/2017 09:57 AM
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Here are some tips that we can pass along based on our experience.

What we did correctly:

- Once we lost the first engine we stayed as far away from shore as we could unless we did not have another choice. We did get too close when heading around Beef Island and should have stayed off another 300’ feet but we still had time to react and were much further off then we have been in the past.

- Our charter company does a very good job during the boat briefing on how to use the anchoring equipment so when we were scrambling to avoid drifting into the shore we were trained well enough to get it down. The scope was not ideal since we started in 70’ of water and could not get a good ratio but as we drifter closer to sure we caught once we hit about 40’ of water. The key message from this one is always make sure you understand exactly how the anchor works with and without power. We tend to use mooring balls exclusively so we were not well versed in the anchor but remember our training well. If we had not been able to get the anchor down then this likely would have been a story about salvaging a boat instead of one about a tow back to the marina.

- We also had a backup anchor ready to go in the event that the first one failed but we would only use that if we decided to abandon ship.

- We were able to give our non-boating guests clear direction to help with things like pulling out life jackets, getting the portable VHF ready, and detangling the rear anchor as a backup. Looking back on the boat when we got back I can honestly say that there is not one piece of safety equipment that was not ready to go and within arms-reach if we needed it.

Lessons Learned:

- My wife and I were the only experienced boaters on this trip and we should have done a better job training our crew. We had a couple of people step up and really help save the day but several thought this emergency was nothing to really worry about until after the event. Making sure your crew understands what can go wrong and that emergencies can occur is definitely something we learned from this experience.

- Some people on our group did pack-up key documents and other possessions. I should have given them better direction to leave everything and not worry about things that can be replaced. I don’t think they realized at the time how close we were to abandoning ship or ending up on the rocks.

- We ran an initial error code from checkout by one of the mechanics before we left the dock and were told it was nothing to worry about. Hindsight is always 20/20 but I am pretty sure the error message was a pre-cursor to the problems we ran into. We have never had a single engine problem in 5 years with this exact boat but something was clearly not right throughout the trip and we should have known better.

- We did cut the last turn a little too close and I wish we had more distance available to the shore. We did not an excellent job keep in a safe distance on the rest of the trip and still probably had at least 20 of drift time until we would have hit. Time to plan is your best friend is situations like this and we could have used more especially given the rough seas and unprotected location.

- Always know where all of your safety gear is at. Given our experience on the vessel we knew where everything was stored but on other boats I may not have paid as good of attention and not known since I never would have thought they would have been needed.

- Understand exactly how your anchor works with power and without power. Also make sure you understand how much chain you have so you know what the shallowest water depth that you should be able to anchor in. This means knowing the amount of chain/rope and the desired scope given the areas you are in. Given that we were quickly drifting towards shore I was most concerned about catching something and should have care a little more about scope but our distance to shore and water depth made that more challenging.

- Make sure you understand how to deploy the dinghy and/or life raft especially in rough seas. We had several older guests on the boat and it would have been challenging to get them into the dinghy in 6 foot seas but we would have figured something out given the alternative.

- We were a little too complacent with the perceived safety of the area. The rough seas definitely compounded our ability to get the boat set but at times I feel like we are boating on our inland lake and not on a body of water that can turn quickly on you. The storm exasperated this situation but that is always how Murphy’s Law turns out so I should not be surprised. We will definitely respect our surroundings more on future trips.

- I know it is a challenge for the charter companies to balance boating experience with the need to have boats rented but I am not sure we would have reacted the same if we had not docked in the past with a missing engine or thruster. Most of our boating experience is on freshwater lakes so this was certainly more terrifying but having 40+ years boating experience between the 2 of us helped. We also own 3 personal vessels ranging from a PWC to an 87’ houseboat so we are on the water quite a bit. I can’t say that one of the so called credit card captains would have been as lucky as we were in this situation but it is another reason to make sure people with less experience think through the worst case scenario at all times.

- If you are down to 1 engine and suspect any problems that could lead to the 2nd engine going out then stay where you are at if you are at a dock or mooring ball. We should have waited for the parts to arrive and worst case left the boat at BEYC if it could not be fixed before we had to fly home. With that said we spoke to a couple of professional captains and we were told that losing both engines is almost unheard of and also almost always caused by a user error such as wrapping a prop with lines. In our case it was simply equipment failure.

- If you need to tie up two boats in rough seas be extremely careful. Given the sea conditions it was very challenging to tie up the boats and someone on either boat could have severely injured a hand. This is especially true for inexperienced boaters that may feel that you can simply push two boats apart which is very difficult in heavy seas and with larger boats.

I would also appreciate any other recommendations that others may have especially from anyone that has run into this situation in the past.

Re: Avoiding the Rocks [Re: CDavis2] #134400
07/04/2017 10:10 AM
07/04/2017 10:10 AM
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Redmond, WA
MrEZgoin Online content
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Thanks for sharing your story. I didn't catch what boat you were on, a power cat I assume?

Were you able to raise the anchor on battery power alone or did you raise it by hand?

I don't see anything wrong with taking key documents with you when abandoning ship - I think this is considered good planning.


M4000 "Lio Kai"
Re: Avoiding the Rocks [Re: MrEZgoin] #134401
07/04/2017 10:24 AM
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We were on a 48' Power Cat with Marine Max. The windlass ran fine from the battery although I also think we had the generator running if that made a difference at all. We were able to raise the anchor under power. I am not sure if we would have been able to get it up by hand.

Re: Avoiding the Rocks [Re: MrEZgoin] #134402
07/04/2017 10:40 AM
07/04/2017 10:40 AM
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I lost a engine in a 50 foot monohull at almost the exact same spot you did. In my case the wind was out of the east and we were able to roll out the jib and sail clear.
I am curious about the motors. On most cats they should be completely independent of each other. Did the give you a reason for the two failures?
G

Re: Avoiding the Rocks [Re: CDavis2] #134403
07/04/2017 10:51 AM
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CDavis2 said:
We were on a 48' Power Cat with Marine Max. The windlass ran fine from the battery although I also think we had the generator running if that made a difference at all. We were able to raise the anchor under power. I am not sure if we would have been able to get it up by hand.


The windless would not have worked on the batteries. It will work on most but not all charter boats on the genset. It's something to check on the briefings. On some boats it will only run if a specific engine is running. Others it will work with either engine. Off course you can always drop the anchor without power.
I lost the windless diving the Wit Shoal in deep water. We had 200 feet of chain out. Not fun getting it in and I had 6 big guys. Chain is heavy so the more you have out the worse it is!

Re: Avoiding the Rocks [Re: GeorgeC1] #134404
07/04/2017 11:39 AM
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Since the windlass clutch is rarely loosened on most charter boats, I have found it can be seized up. It's something worth checking before you're in the situation of having to quickly deploy the anchor under gravity.


M4000 "Lio Kai"
Re: Avoiding the Rocks [Re: MrEZgoin] #134405
07/04/2017 11:56 AM
07/04/2017 11:56 AM
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Thanks for sharing... I am also very interested to what would caused 2 engine failures and if they were related to each other or just a bad coincidence coupled with bad timing.... nonetheless I am glad everything worked out fine; definitely a charter to remember!

Re: Avoiding the Rocks [Re: Mdsmurph] #134406
07/04/2017 01:21 PM
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I will definitely check the clutch on our next trip after this one.

It appears to be bad luck for losing both motors. I did not get the exact details but both appear to be related to the controllers. The starboard engine was some type of card that had to be replaced which required a replacement to be shipped in which was going to take a few days.

The port engine appears to be something more minor and we had some intermittent issues with it early in the trip but only when we attempted to start it. Both engines exhibited the same symptoms after they failed which was the complete lack of any response when trying to turn them over.

Also, I am glad to hear that someone else survived this same situation in the same place without any damage.

Re: Avoiding the Rocks [Re: CDavis2] #134407
07/04/2017 06:13 PM
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Great report -- thanks for the insight!

When we're in a monohull (which is always), I try to resist the temptation to motor with the sails down in places where an engine failure would put us in immediate jeopardy. I sometimes fail to follow that policy when passing Colquhoun Reef at the entrance to the North Sound. Maybe I should get a bit stricter with myself.

Dan <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Cheers.gif" alt="" />

Re: Avoiding the Rocks [Re: DanS] #134408
07/04/2017 06:34 PM
07/04/2017 06:34 PM
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I always keep an engine on in places where fluky winds create risk


Warren S/V Scuba Doo
Lagoon 50 (winner of best crewed yacht under 55 feet at the St. Thomas crewed yacht boat show).

https://www.cyabrochure.com/ebn/2307/pdyrX/6642/4///
Re: Avoiding the Rocks [Re: CDavis2] #134409
07/04/2017 09:35 PM
07/04/2017 09:35 PM
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A few years ago Island Yacht Charters lost one of their big sailboats on the East side of VG. Never got the straight story but the biggest issue was too close to a leeward shore. I promised myself right then I'd stop doing that! Several times when rounding Beef Island I've been surprised how close some others cut the corner.

With a power-only boat it might just be prolonging your agony. Bet you sure were glad when you felt that anchor grab! As steep as the hill is there I would have thought you'd have to be pretty darn close to get to 40' of water.

Thanks for posting, good job!


Life involves risks, take some prudent ones (NOT with the BVI ferries)!
Re: Avoiding the Rocks [Re: beerMe] #134410
07/05/2017 08:11 AM
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@beerMe - You sure nailed that one. We were ecstatic when the anchor finally caught and far too close to the shore even at 40'.

It also made me pretty uncomfortable taking the anchor up for the tow boat to attach the ropes since we knew that would take a few minutes and we would be drifting again.

Re: Avoiding the Rocks [Re: CDavis2] #134411
07/05/2017 10:40 AM
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Would the dinghy be strong enough to at least keep it from hitting the rocks and hold the boat somewhat in place? I'm not talking about towing the boat with the dingy. Seems like it could at least slow it down from drifting to the rocks until help arrives. I've seen people move sailboats short distances with dinghies. Maybe it was too rough for that.

Re: Avoiding the Rocks [Re: cajunscuba] #134412
07/05/2017 01:03 PM
07/05/2017 01:03 PM
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I doubt the dinghy could do much in any sea state


Warren S/V Scuba Doo
Lagoon 50 (winner of best crewed yacht under 55 feet at the St. Thomas crewed yacht boat show).

https://www.cyabrochure.com/ebn/2307/pdyrX/6642/4///
Re: Avoiding the Rocks [Re: warren460] #134413
07/05/2017 01:21 PM
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Had no issues moving our Hallberg Rassy 53ft (25 tonnes) with the dinghy when we had an engine fault.

...BUT, sea-state was calm, no tides, no currents, light winds. And the dinghy didn't have a 'Christmas-cracker toy' Mapi 9.8 HP engine that half the charter fleets seem to use!

Sounds like you handled the situation the right way CDavis2. If anchor hadn't held it sounds like you wouldn't have had time to rig the dinghy before you were beached anyway.

Re: Avoiding the Rocks [Re: CDavis2] #134414
07/05/2017 02:08 PM
07/05/2017 02:08 PM
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CDavis, I applaud you and your Captain!! You did a lot of things right in this situation. Bad coincidence for sure to have both engines quit. Stories like yours are good reminders that things happen usually when you least expect them. Be prepared for the what ifs! I have seen more than a few boats hugging lee shores, much closer than you describe, and wondered.. what if?

Re: Avoiding the Rocks [Re: BEERMAN] #134415
07/05/2017 02:47 PM
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Each dinghy and motor combination is different. Unless you take your time and really understand all the mechanics and loads? Most who try to tow with a dinghy will find the dinghy just goes sideways from the rotation load of the propeller and little mass or wetted surface of the dinghy. More weight, better positioned weight, a bridle, repositioning the tow line, adding thrust very slowly in a controlled manner done all together might make towing possible. MIGHT! Waves, wind, and panic... Well someone might get some good YouTube.

I would love to make some comment about not rushing away from the dock or cutting the checkout short... but, if the diesels operated all the way to North Sound I am not sure what most would have ever been able to uncover at the checkout dock.

Google the Dangers of the Lee Shore. Many of us are regularly in gross violation of the best safe practices near lee shores.

The degree of danger that is posed to your hull by a lee shore is directly proportional to the force of the wind and current that is pushing you toward it. If you misjudge this force and then lose power/control, you can be on the lee shore faster than you can anchor your boat.

Considering the inherent dangers of lee shores, a prudent skipper should never approach a lee shore closer than one-quarter mile, even in calm conditions, with greater distances recommended as the wind speed increases.

Stuff can happen anywhere on any boat. I line or other object in the water can shut most boats down in the blink of an eye. A sudden failure of the rudder or steering is very possible. The loads while reaching can be extreme even more so on a cat. Bad fuel can shut you down as soon as it get rough. The list goes on and on.

Next time you are out note the times you put your vessel near a lee shore where the chance of recovery is very small.

Re: Avoiding the Rocks [Re: cajunscuba] #134416
07/05/2017 03:22 PM
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cajunscuba said:
Would the dinghy be strong enough to at least keep it from hitting the rocks and hold the boat somewhat in place? I'm not talking about towing the boat with the dingy. Seems like it could at least slow it down from drifting to the rocks until help arrives. I've seen people move sailboats short distances
with dinghies. Maybe it was too rough for that.


Calm winds a dinghy will move the boat fine. More than 7 or 8 knots not so much. The problem is you would never get the dinghy launched and a suitable tow method hooked up in time to help. There is no good way to hook a tow line so lashing the dinghy alongside is best. Takes time.

Re: Avoiding the Rocks [Re: StormJib] #134417
07/05/2017 04:01 PM
07/05/2017 04:01 PM
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StormJib said:

The degree of danger that is posed to your hull by a lee shore is directly proportional to the force of the wind and current that is pushing you toward it. If you misjudge this force and then lose power/control, you can be on the lee shore faster than you can anchor your boat.

Considering the inherent dangers of lee shores, a prudent skipper should never approach a lee shore closer than one-quarter mile, even in calm conditions, with greater distances recommended as the wind speed increases.


Plagiarism is still defined as the passing off of another's ideas or words as one's own. Taken virtually verbatim from the article: "Lee Shores Present a Danger" at safesea.com, without quotes or attribution. Not cool.

Re: Avoiding the Rocks [Re: aarpskier] #134418
07/05/2017 07:47 PM
07/05/2017 07:47 PM
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Ya never know...
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Ya never know...
Original thoughts seem to elude him


My foot fits right into my shoe and my shoe will fit right into your...
Re: Avoiding the Rocks [Re: beerMe] #134419
07/05/2017 07:48 PM
07/05/2017 07:48 PM
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beerMe said:
A few years ago Island Yacht Charters lost one of their big sailboats on the East side of VG. Never got the straight story but the biggest issue was too close to a leeward shore. I promised myself right then I'd stop doing that! Several times when rounding Beef Island I've been surprised how close some others cut the corner.

With a power-only boat it might just be prolonging your agony. Bet you sure were glad when you felt that anchor grab! As steep as the hill is there I would have thought you'd have to be pretty darn close to get to 40' of water.

Thanks for posting, good job!



That was Aurora...an IP 485....and it was off of Coral Bay, St. John -- halyard fouled their prop - 6 rescued off the boat and the story goes....they went back to IYC and got on another IP......


[Linked Image]

Re: Avoiding the Rocks [Re: Winterstale] #134420
07/05/2017 10:14 PM
07/05/2017 10:14 PM
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Memphis, TN
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Winterstale said:
Quote
beerMe said:
A few years ago Island Yacht Charters lost one of their big sailboats on the East side of VG. Never got the straight story but the biggest issue was too close to a leeward shore. I promised myself right then I'd stop doing that! Several times when rounding Beef Island I've been surprised how close some others cut the corner.

With a power-only boat it might just be prolonging your agony. Bet you sure were glad when you felt that anchor grab! As steep as the hill is there I would have thought you'd have to be pretty darn close to get to 40' of water.

Thanks for posting, good job!



That was Aurora...an IP 485....and it was off of Coral Bay, St. John -- halyard fouled their prop - 6 rescued off the boat and the story goes....they went back to IYC and got on another IP......


Ah yes thanks for helping with my poor memory. I remember reading there was some talk that they had been warned by staff about a dragging line earlier - stuff like that. I thought they were motor sailing, one might have thought there was at least a chance of clawing their way off the shore. I can't believe Skip would give them another boat after that!


Life involves risks, take some prudent ones (NOT with the BVI ferries)!
Re: Avoiding the Rocks [Re: beerMe] #134421
07/05/2017 11:59 PM
07/05/2017 11:59 PM
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Island yachts did not provide the folks that wrecked Aurora, the IP485 , with another boat after it went on the rocks near Ram's Head.... check out the photos on the Sea Tow St Thomas Facebook page if you want to see some photos of the event and aftermath....

Re: Avoiding the Rocks [Re: Mandknky] #134422
07/06/2017 08:52 AM
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We thought about trying to use the dinghy but it only had an 18 HP engine and it was very rough so we didn't think it would help us given the situation that we were in. If it was a calm day then I think it may have helped but the drifting issue and setting the anchor would have also been less challenging.

Re: Avoiding the Rocks [Re: Mandknky] #134423
07/06/2017 09:13 AM
07/06/2017 09:13 AM
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 5,861
Bradenton, FL
Winterstale Offline
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Posts: 5,861
Bradenton, FL
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Mandknky said:
Island yachts did not provide the folks that wrecked Aurora, the IP485 , with another boat after it went on the rocks near Ram's Head.... check out the photos on the Sea Tow St Thomas Facebook page if you want to see some photos of the event and aftermath....


Sorry - my bad - thought I read someplace that they went back out on another IP.


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Re: Avoiding the Rocks [Re: CDavis2] #134424
07/06/2017 04:20 PM
07/06/2017 04:20 PM
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 633
BaardJ Offline
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CDavis2 said:
My wife called our base which was relatively close and requested emergency assistance. I am not sure exactly how long it took for cavalry to arrive with a boat to tow us back but it must have been the longest 30 minutes of my life even though our anchor was holding once it reached about 40’ of water and we had drifted to within 100 feet of the shore.


Thanks for sharing this harrowing experience and glad to hear it all ended safely. In the heat of the emergency did you consider broadcasting a PAN-PAN message? I'm thinking one of the Trellis Bay/Scrub Island/Spanishtown ferries or VISAR would have heard the message and might have arrived much sooner than the chase boat to render a tow (or at least render assistance if the anchor dragged and it quickly became a MAYDAY situation).

If I were drifting onto a lee shore, I would probably first broadcast a request for help from (hopefully) nearby vessels before calling the charter base. A reminder that we should all be monitoring Ch 16 when we are underway - never know when or where we might be called upon to provide assistance.

Re: Avoiding the Rocks [Re: BaardJ] #134425
07/06/2017 05:04 PM
07/06/2017 05:04 PM
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Posts: 73
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CDavis2 Offline OP
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@BaardJ - We had the VHF close by but had not thought to broadcast a PAN-PAN message. We had been holding out for a mayday situation since our base was pretty close by. We should have taken that approach and I am definitely filing that one away if we run into this situation in the future. I would be hard pressed to find another situation where the PAN-PAN message would have been more appropriate. Thanks for the tip.

Re: Avoiding the Rocks [Re: CDavis2] #134426
07/06/2017 08:57 PM
07/06/2017 08:57 PM
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Posts: 1,049
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StormJib Offline
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When in doubt always call and let the authorities know what is going on. Many will be surprised how far the USCG VHF towers and repeaters go. In the shadow of some of the BVI mountains you may not get the coverage. But, the USCG does answer the telephone and can reach out and contact many others for you and keep track of you until you are safe. When in doubt call and report your status.


Channel 16 or 22A for US Coast Guard telephone 499-6770 or *CG *24 (cell phone) or call 999 or 911 for VISAR (494-4357 or 494-HELP)

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If you are going to Call Pan Pan on VHF the USCG will likely hear it or get it. Same with VISAR. Call them early and share the status and concern. Both the USCG and VISAR are pros at this and there to deal with it and even prevent things from going really poorly putting others at risk.


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