Use "May Day" when imminent danger threatens life or property and immediate assistance is required. Use Pan-Pan ("Pahn Pahn") when the safety of a person or vessel is in jeopardy, but the danger is not life threatening. NOTE that VHF and 2182 (SSB) only transmit over about 20-30 nmiles under normal conditions.
(I) BEFORE EACH TRIP
- Review instructions for transmitting GMDSS Distress signal on each radio -VHF and SSB - See(II) and (III) below
- Review transmission of May Day and other distress signalling techniques (See IV and V below)
- Do a radio check on an appropriate frequency on each radio.
- Review operation of the EPIRB.
- Test the EPIRB.
- Charge the hand-held VHF
(II) AUTOMATIC DISTRESS SIGNAL ON THE VHF (Standard Horizon Spectrum)
- Make sure GPS is on and giving a position reading on the VHF screen
- Lift red cover over Distress key, and press the key once. If there is no time to have the distress signal include "Nature of Distress" (steps 3-5), then hold the Distress key down for 3 or more seconds.
- Turn the lower left knob (Channel Selector) anticlockwise one notch to select "Nature of Distress" and then press the "Call/Set" key.
- Turn the channel selector anticlockwise and pick the appropriate nature of distress, then press and hold the "Call/Set" key to transmit the Distress Signal.
- Nature of Distress options are: Fire, flooding, collision, grounding, capsizing, sinking, adrift, abandoning ship, piracy, and man overboard.
- The radio will transmit the Distress signal, and afterwards emit the Distress alarm
- The radio will retransmit the Distress signal every four minutes until it receives an acknowledgment, at which point it will switch to Channel 16
- To cancel a distress call, turn off the radio.
(III) AUTOMATIC DISTRESS SIGNAL ON THE SSB (ICOM M710)
- Turn on the SSB (press the "Power" switch)
- Push the 2182KHz button to select the emergency frequency
- Push the two orange-labelled buttons together (Tx Freq and Alarm) for 1 second to initiate transmission of the distress signal. Let it transmit for at least 30 seconds.
- Push Alarm to turn off the alarm transmission
- Take the microphone (black handset) and transmit a May Day
- If you get no response on VHF or SSB, get out the Using the SSB checklist and try to contact the Coast Guard or begin scanning SSB channels 13-37, then 43-88, (ham frequencies) and then marine frequencies 8-1 to 8-9. When you hear voices, transmit May Day
(IV) TRANSMITTING A MAY-DAY [PAN-PAN IS THE SAME FORMAT]
- Transmit May Day call on the SSB and the VHF while you still have power.
- Transmit using the emergency buttons of each radio
- Transmit verbally on VHF Channel 16 or SSB as follows:
If there is no response after a few moments, repeat the above message.
After transmitting a May Day or Pan Pan, and you no longer need help, you must cancel as follows:
- "May Day, May Day, May Day. This is [boatname], [callsign]; This is [boatname], [callsign]; This is [boatname], [callsign].
- May Day.
- [boatname] is at.. (Lat/Long position or distance and bearing from landmark.)
- We are..(describe nature of emergency.)
- We require..(describe nature of assistance needed.)
- Aboard are..(describe number of people, age and condition if relevent.)
- We have..(describe safety equipment.)
- [boatname] is a (describe type of vessel, number of masts, hull color, canvas color, etc.)
- "May Day.
- Hello all stations, hello all stations, hello all stations.
- This is [boatname], [callsign].
- The time is ........
- Seelonce Feenee (to cancel May Day) or Cancel Pan Pan.
(V) OTHER DISTRESS SIGNALS
- Fire red parachute or handheld flares (fire downwind)
- Smoke, from can or light a fire in a bucket (careful, down-wind side of boat)
- Waving arms above head
- Continuous horn, or SOS (Morse Code ..._ _ _ ...)
- Dye marker in the water
- Fly November code flag with Charlie code flag underneath it
- Fly orange flag with black ball and black square on it
- Fire a strobe light (high intensity white flashing once/second). There's one in the Ditch Bag. Also, turn the Forespar lantern upside down and it will start firing. Finally, there's a strobe light on each PFD.
- Turn the US flag on the stern upside down
- Anything else to draw attention to the boat (spray paint HELP on a sheet and tie on deck, hang from shroud, eg)
(VI) RECEIVING HELP
- Do not let a large ship come too close to your boat, or it is likely to dismast it. Make them launch a lifeboat and come to you, or fire rockets bringing lines to the boat.
- To get help from a helicopter, follow the directions of the pilot. Communicate over the VHF or with hand signals. The downdraft from a helicopter may make it impossible to hear and difficult to stand upright. Do not touch a wire cable from a helicopter until it has grounded in the water or on deck. Do not cleat a rope hanging from a helicopter or you will tether it.
- If an injured person is transferred to another boat or helicopter, write down their name and nature of injury/illness and pin it in a ziplock bag to his/her clothes.
- If you abandon ship, leave a note pinned to the Nav Station with your name, date of abandoning the ship, and your destination.
©2004 The Trouser Rollers. All rights reserved.
This page was last modified on:
August 9, 2009