Mayday, mayday – VHF radio saves lives

Wharf jump 2017 Matt and Keith_Coote_Maritime_NZ_147 (2) (2)
Maritime Officer Matt Wood calls for help via VHF marine radio during a Safer Boating Week event in Wellington this morning. Maritime NZ Director Keith Manch treads water while waiting to hear that the call has been picked up by rescue services, or another maritime ‘station’.  

Luckily the local harbourmaster crew was on hand in their inflatable boat to ‘rescue’ the pair once their mayday call was received.

Around 20 water safety leaders jumped off Wellington Wharf at 10.30 am to mark the start of Safer Boating Week – with Matt and Keith swimming off to demonstrate the use of their radio.

This summer the Safer Boating Forum is raising awareness about the need for boaties to ensure they have a VHF radio on their vessel, or on their person, or in a grab-bag nearby. Every vessel with a VHF radio acts as a ‘station’ and can come to the rescue of others if they hear a distress alert on the emergency Channel 16, or a local channel.  

Recreational boaties who get into difficulty on a lake or out at sea can get help quicker if they are able alert the crews of nearby craft. While 86 percent of boaties take lifejackets out with them, only 38 percent take two waterproof ways of calling for help.

“Lifejackets and waterproof communications work together,” says Mr Manch.

“Lifejackets help you float – but if you can’t call, we can’t rescue you.”
The Safer Boating Forum urges everyone to wear their lifejacket and take a VHF radio and rescue beacon out with them this summer.
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