When the fishing was proving unproductive he decided to move to a new site, but the engine on his 20 foot aluminium V-Hull boat generated nothing more than a clatter and refused to run. Without mobile phone signal and without other means to call for help Bernucho extended the antenna on his PLB1 and activated it.
Personal Locator Beacons send out an internationally recognised signal to the Cospas Sarsat satellite system. Each beacon is individual coded and Bernucho had made sure his was registered with NOAA. Within 36minutes of activation, a US Coastguard helicopter was nearby, following its normal search pattern. Bernucho set off a flare to indicate his exact position. Within minutes the helicopter was overhead and dropped a radio down to him on a line.
Using the contact details provided to NOAA when he registered his PLB, NOAA also contacted his wife and kept her fully informed of the situation and confirming that he was OK.
Using the radio, Bernucho was able to call up a tow back to port, grateful for the effectiveness of his Ocean Signal PLB1 and the efficiency of the Coastguard and NOAA. Bernucho said after his adventure with the PLB1, “I asked the Coastguard if there was anything I could do. And the simply said ‘Spread the Word’”
The US Coast Guard website described PLBs as “lightweight, compact and easy to use, can instantly summon help and provide rescuers with precise location information”
OCEAN SIGNAL – METSTRADE: SURVIVORS ACTIVATE OCEAN SIGNAL EPIRB IN DRAMATIC BISCAY RESCUE FROM SINKING YACHT
METSTRADE, 14th to 16th November, Stand 03.125
‘Within 25 minutes of the EPIRB being set off, we were in the airbase taking a shower’ – sailor Edward Harwood
UK sailor Edward Harwood says his Ocean Signal SafeSea 100G EPIRB ‘proved worth its weight in gold’ after he and his crew were dramatically rescued from their sinking yacht, Mistral, off the Costa Del Morte, Northern Spain.
On passage back to the UK, sailing from Villa Nova de Arousa to France on-board the 1977 Dehler Optima 92, the sailors found themselves in a life-threatening situation after discovering the boat was taking on water near Biscay’s ‘Coast of Death’ following rough weather and Force 7 wind at the start of their voyage.
They immediately located the grab bag, prepared the life raft and activated the Ocean Signal EPIRB (Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon) as efforts to pump the vessel out to save her proved fruitless. With the boat now stationary and low down by the bow, they also sent out a Mayday on the handheld VHF but there was no response.
Just minutes after abandoning the yacht and climbing into the life raft, the sailors had received a radio message and were communicating with the rescue authorities who informed them they had seen the EPIRB alert and had been contacted by the UK coastguard.
Edward said: “There is no doubt it was the EPIRB that did the trick. The flooded boat meant that putting out a Mayday using the VHF did not work. Within 7 minutes, we were receiving calls from family in the UK asking if we were okay. They had been contacted by the UK Coastguard and relayed to Vigo in Spain. In less than 10 minutes there was a rescue helicopter, Salvamento Marítimo helicopter PESCA 1 of Vigo air base, and fast boat on the scene. We were lifted to safety and I saw the boat up ended and going down. Within 25 minutes of the EPIRB being set off, we were in the airbase taking a shower and being given hot drinks.”
Used to alert search and rescue services in the event of an emergency at sea, the SafeSea E100G EPIRB has exceptional operational battery life with enough capacity to operate the EPIRB continuously, typically for four whole days, even using the E100G with GPS fix. It features intuitive operating controls and is very easy to use, even in a stressful environment. The E100G is fitted with a 50-channel, integral GPS which improves location accuracy and significantly reduces the time taken for the position to be transmitted to the rescue authorities. Certified for use on vessels registered in many countries across the world, the SafeSea E100G is a Cospas–Sarsat EPIRB operating in the 406MHz satellite band.
Edward added: “The Ocean Signal EPIRB is a truly outstanding product. It is easy to use in an emergency situation, fast and faultlessly reliable, plus it is by far the toughest and best quality. I will use one all my sailing life. I can think of no better and more necessary bit of safety equipment to have aboard.
“Over the past 10 years, we have always had an EPIRB on board and would not sail offshore without one. When the time came to replace it, the obvious choice was the Ocean Signal with the GPS built in. This was not only because of the fantastically practical battery arrangement, but also because the GPS feature made sense. If you are in trouble, you want to be located fast and it proved to be worth its weight in gold.”
James Hewitt, Sales and Marketing Manager, Ocean Signal, said: “It is never good to hear that a beacon has had to be activated, however it is great to hear that Edward and his crew are safe as a result of having an Ocean Signal EPIRB on board. It is really important that all vessels are equipped with an EPIRB device with GPS, such as the Ocean Signal E100G involved in this rescue, as it transmits an accurate location to the rescue authorities very quickly.”
Datrex’s Patrick Brunosson met with Sandy Williamson two days after his rescue to talk about the experience. It was a happy ending to a potentially lethal incident.
Sandy and his crew, Corey, left Miami Sunday morning on a fast run between Miami and Bimini Island. The vessel was well equipped with all safety equipment per USCG regulations plus a rescueME PLB (Personal Locator Beacon) that includes a 66 channel GPS. The PLB was manufactured by Ocean Signal in the UK and supplied by Westpac Marine in Tacoma WA. Sandy and Corey also carried cell phones but were out of range being 18.6 nautical miles from shore. (The cell phone coverage in the area is typically 12-15 miles.)
Sandy saw that they were taking on water fast and would need rescue and told Corey to turn on the Ocean Signal rescueME PLB as the vessel was sinking fast. They were able to grab life jackets, Â flotation cushion, two fenders which later in the water Sandy stuffed into a duffle bag, a cell phone, and the Ocean Signal rescueME PLB.
While the emergency progressed Sandy had many thoughts flying through his head. Primary was making sure the younger crew, Corey, stayed alive. Sandyâ€™s thoughts then went to his wife Debbie, 4 kids and 7 grandkids, and all the great moments they had had together.
The PLB was properly positioned and initiated at 11:00 AM when they were floating in the ocean with 2300 feet of dark water below them. Â USCG informed them later that they had received the location and registered information by 11:03 AM. USCG quickly determined that the signal was valid by calling Sandyâ€™s brother, and initiated the rescue operation by launching a helicopter from Miami.
The rescue helicopter arrived on the scene not long after, passing over them twice in a crossing pattern at about 1000 ft (This is routine, Sandy was told, to scan and find the intersection of maximum signal strength of the 121.5 MHz homing frequency. Upon determination of the exact location of the PLB and observing two persons, the helicopter flew in again at a lower altitude directly above them and hovered. A rescue diver was dropped and they were hoisted aboard in textbook manner by a very professional USCG crew. Sandy and Corey were shaken and wet, but in good health.
PLBs are not mandatory equipment in the United States yet. They are mandatory in other countries with amazing results in reducing loss of life at sea by increasing survivability from a sinking vessel or man overboard situation. Â Â A GPS enabled, Â properly registered PLB simplifies a rescue operation by the Coast Guard or other rescue agencies by directing them to about 100 yards from where the PLB is transmitting, virtually anywhere in the world. Â PLBs, as they continue to get smaller and with longer life batteries, are being carried by a growing number of safety conscious mariners, often attached directly to their safety gear. They are easily packed in a pocket or jacket or even inside an automatic inflating lifejacket.
Datrex Inc. is the importer of Ocean Signal products for the North American market and sells the products through a wide network of dealers.