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Little Falmouth Yacht Yard

Flushing, Falmouth

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How to make a distress call

How to make a distress call

If you are in grave danger on your boat, you will need to call the Coastguard over the radio for help.

It’s important that you include the following information as a minimum – ideally, in this order.

Press the distress button and wait 10 seconds or so.

On channel 16 transmit:

Mayday, Mayday, Mayday.

This is yacht Boat Name, Boat Name, Boat Name.

MMSI number XXXXXXXXXXX, call sign XXXX.

I repeat, Mayday, this is yacht Boat Name, MMSI number XXXXXXXXXXX, call sign XXXXX.

My position is: GPS in latitude and longitude/bearing/position related to navigational mark.

We are sinking/fire/medical/nature of emergency.

We require immediate assistance.

We have three crew members aboard.

All have life jackets but we have no life raft.

Over.

Once you begin the call, it’s wise to keep the button on your microphone pressed down so that your message is not interrupted by another radio user on another boat.

Once the Coastguard responds, you should then radio a summary:

This is yacht Boat Name. MMSI number XXXXXXXXXXX, call sign XXXXX.

My position is: GPS in latitude and longitude/bearing/position related to navigational mark.

We are sinking/fire/medical/nature of emergency.

We have three crew members aboard, all have life jackets but we have no life raft.

Over.

The Coastguard may then direct you to a different channel, either 6, 8, 72 or 77.

In essence the most useful distress message contains the following information in this order of importance:

  • Mayday
  • Identity (boat name, general type, MMSI, call sign)
  • Repeat everything said so far
  • Position
  • Nature of problem
  • What you need
  • Number of people aboard
  • Any extra info
  • Over

If you do not receive a response from the Coastguard, wait two minutes and radio your original distress call again.

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