I think that's a bit harsh the advice here is always to call them early, never to worry about "overstating" a Mayday and let them do exactly what they did and downgrade it. Yes the club should have people who have been properly trained on their boats including the procedure to follow in the even of a breakdown. Sadly, its not uncommon for Sailing Club Rescue boats to be manned by relatively inexperienced well meaning people - who perhaps did a PB2 5 yrs ago and go out one day a year. Not all PB instructors are created equal and thus some will have spend less time on the steps to take on the engine conking out than others.
Personally I'd much rather they over reacted and got some quick advice on anchoring than washed up on shore or in the path of a ship whilst the kiddies were in trouble. If there were lots of inexperienced youngsters I would have hoped the club at least had a 'back up plan' in place - but I can see the cause for concern (although I wouldn't have called MayDay myself) - and how if its the first time you've ever been on a boat with a dead engine and you are supposed to be 'looking after' X dinghies that you follow the MayDay procedure and read the words printed above the radio...
I couldn't disagree with you more. I find no justification whatsoever for tolerating bad or inept practice. These monkees should have had somebody who was on the case supervising them until they were competent to drive the boat, fix it and drive the radio. No matter how many years that may take!.
You say that its sadly not uncommon for clubs rescue boats to be manned by relatively inexperienced but well meaning people
Surely that is a deriliction of any legal resposibilty and duty of care that the club has to it's members. I'm presuming this doesn't happen in RYA affiliated sailing clubs