Friday, October 5, 2007

Transmitting a MAYDAY call

While recreational boating is a great way to enjoy life, everyone who enjoys boating must be aware that there is an element of physical risk involved. From time to time, emergencies do occur. Skippers must be prepared and must keep a level head.

With that in mind, I wanted to publish the correct procedure for sending a MAYDAY call over the radio. This procedure keeps the transmission short but contains all the pertinent information necessary to facilitate emergency assistance afloat. Pay attention; this could save your life.

First of all, a MAYDAY call is only used when grave and imminent danger threatens life or property and immediate help is required. Any non-life threatening situation is handled with a PAN-PAN call. I'll cover that procedure in a later post. In the meantime, here is the procedure for a correct MAYDAY call. Speaking slowly, clearly, and calmly, use your marine radio tuned to Channel 16 to communicate the following information:
  2. "THIS IS (boat name)....(boat name)....(boat name)."
  3. "MAYDAY (boat name) POSITION IS (vessel position in degrees and minutes of latitude NORTH or SOUTH and longitude EAST or WEST, or as a distance and magnetic or true bearing from a well-known navigation landmark)."
  4. "WE (nature of your emergency)."
  5. "WE REQUIRE (type of assistance required)."
  6. "ON BOARD ARE (number of adults and children on board) AND (safety equipment aboard). (State conditions of any injured)."
  7. "(Boat name) IS A (boat length in feet) FOOT (type: sloop, sportfisherman, etc.) WITH A (hull color) HULL AND (trim color) TRIM."
  8. "I WILL BE LISTENING ON CHANNEL (16 or 2182)."
  9. "THIS IS (boat name). OVER"
Nearby vessels will hear your call and acknowledge. Rescue will be coordinated by any nearby vessels and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Hopefully, you'll never have to use this procedure, but now at least you'll know what to do if the situation arises. Remember: its always better to be in a boat with a drink on the rocks, than in the drink with a boat on the rocks!

Be safe out there.

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