Originally Posted by Poly
I think you are placing a lot of emphasis on a document rather than the practical realities of small vessel boating!
I think you are probably wrong. I've seen reports of lifeboats launched to investigate all sorts of "lights at sea". I also think you've put a lot of expectation on the member of the public to know what a handheld flare actually looks like, and to be able to identify a laser.
Personally I prefer the concept of the odeo "flare" but not its price! I also think most members of the public would expect flares to be "launched" rather than handheld.
You might have seen reports of pigs flying, but I can assure you, with the move to 'Future Coastguard' sending a lifeboat out to 'investigate lights at sea' is not going to happen on a regular basis, unless these things aqquire some sort of proper recognition. I don't dispute that once a proper distress notification has been sent, these may assist in locating a casualty visually, but the point remains they are simply not GMDSS (or IMO, whatever) complaint...
There are supposed to be lights at sea, they are for navigation, it's not uncommon for members of the public to call up and report lights at sea when a new buoy has been established within view of their lounge, it's not practical to send lifeboats out to every one of these calls.
If you've ever called in a flare report you'll be aware the Coastguard will question the caller, in an effort to establish if what they have seen is indeed a red flare, if it can't be ascertained then it's much more likely that the coastguard will task a local coastguard rescue team rather than a lifeboat. Then someone can literally stand beside the first informant and see what they are trying to describe. Of course, in the mean time broadcast action might be taken to see if any vessel in the area have seen anything, and local military firing ranges may be called to check if they are active.
it's not practical to send a lifeboat out while a first informant stands on the shore and says 'left a bit, right a bit, no your too close in now it was further out'
I suppose the MCA document says it better than i've tried to
"None of the EVDS on the market that we are aware of, currently meet the light
intensity required by the IMO Life Saving Appliance Code and as such do not conform to the Directive. This means that they cannot be carried as a substitute for pyrotechnic flares on vessels to which mandatory carriage applies.
Where carriage of flares is non–mandatory and due to the possibility that EVDS may not be recognised internationally as a distress signal, the MCA advises that EVDS, for the time being, should not be carried as a substitute for conventional pyrotechnic flares. However, for all pleasure vessels, seagoing commercial vessels, and most non–seagoing commercial vessels EVDS may be carried and used as a locating device, though their limitations should be
recognised and all parties involved made aware of the type of signal being generated"
are there lots of reports of people getting hurt using pyros on boats? it's not something I hear alot of.....