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Old 29 September 2014, 05:15   #1
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Reminder - The Importance Of Radio Checks

Often ignored but very important, an incident I assisted with at the weekend is a reminder of such. Coming back from Chapman’s Pool on Sunday a dive rib intercepted me just off Durlston Head and inquired whether I had seen a diver who was missing. I hadn't, I asked the dive boat if they had called the coastguard and from the response I received I suggested they did so, however the vibe I got from them made me a bit concerned and hence I monitored 16 for a while and started looking around, still no call made after a few minutes so I called the coastguard, it was as though the dive rib was reluctant to make the call. Anyway I called coastguard and informed them of the developing situation, Solent coastguard asked me to strongly tell the dive rib to call them, which I did.

However first of all the dive rib tried to call Portland coastguard which no longer exists and hence I had to tell them to call Solent again. Then it became pretty clear that the dive rib while calling Solent coastguard could not communicate for some reason so I then had to go back to the dive rib take the appropriate information down and relay and co-ordinate with Solent coast guard who could easily pick me up and vica versus.

A mayday was then called into action and both lifeboats from Swanage called to the scene along with myself the dive boat and another vessel sandpiper all looking along the coast line.

The diver was later found drifting and all was well incident closed.

Some lessons and observations.
1. The initial perceived reluctance of the dive rib to call help has me a little concerned. How long should someone wait when you have a missing diver to call for help?
2. Did the dive operator do a VHF check when they left Swanage?
3. How many people don’t realise yet that Portland coastguard no longer exists?
4. Is there an issue with the new location of Solent coastguard and the clarity and power of VHF transmissions?

Best Practice
1. Best practice is to do a VHF check when you are out and about – better to know your VHF isn’t working well and not need to call than need to make an emergency call and then find out it’s not working.
2. Invest in the best VHF set, aerial and quality connections you can afford and always do a check.
3. If you have a missing diver don’t think you will find him quickly, make a call to let the coastguard know of the situation so that they are ready to launch into action should they need to as time is ticking, light may be fading and the impact of the cold water will just increase as time goes on. Calling them and making them aware of a developing situation is not bothering them or wasting their time, they do need to be aware as situations can go from a minor issue to a major one in very short time.
4. Don’t think there will be other boats about to help, always think you’re on your own if anything goes wrong so VHF is a vital bit of kit not a luxury or a nice to have bit of kit.
5. And for those on the Dorset coast who used to communicate with Portland coastguard check to see how well you can communicate with Solent coastguard from your normal cruise range.

Details of the Swanage life boat call out on this below.

“Both of Swanage's lifeboats were again in action this afternoon when a dive boat, 'Venture Diver' , reported (via another RIB, 'Puddleduck') that they had an overdue diver who had been in the water for over 60mins having started a drift dive at Peveril Point. The lifeboats proceeded to Durlston point, where the dive boat had remained having recovered the party's other divers. At Durlston Head the all weather lifeboat assessed the tidal flow and liaised with Solent Coastguard to calculate a search response, get Coastguard Rescue Helicopter 104 and request any other vessels in the area to help. The lifeboat calculated that the diver would have drifted about 3.0nm from Durlston, so headed at best speed down the estimated line of drift. The inshore lifeboat was asked to cover the area between the lifeboat and the cliffs and a local fishing boat stood offshore from the lifeboat. Shortly after, at 1600hrs, the inshore lifeboat recovered the missing diver, safe and well. He was taken on board the lifeboat, transported back to Swanage Bay and then transferred, relieved, back to his dive boat. Both boats were ready for further service at 1626hrs.”
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Old 29 September 2014, 05:43   #2
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Lots of good stuff there.

Solent Coastguard doesn't exist either now. It went the same was as Portland and was replaced by the Maritime Operations Centre (MOC) in Fareham. Are they still identifying as Solent?

I would be surprised if VHF coverage has changed significantly as they have always used multiple antenna sites to cover the area.
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Old 29 September 2014, 05:46   #3
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Lots of good stuff there.

Solent Coastguard doesn't exist either now. It went the same was as Portland and was replaced by the Maritime Operations Centre (MOC) in Fareham. Are they still identifying as Solent?

I would be surprised if VHF coverage has changed significantly as they have always used multiple antenna sites to cover the area.
I am sure Boris means as a radio callsign....not a physical 'place' .

We did Poole - Weymouth Sat - and the ranges were active ...a minor detour but the first time I've known them active on a weekend - ever !

A good point made by Boris re the 'vanishing' of Portland on the radio....

Boris - may be after a steering wheel - watch out for an email ( hopefully you still have it tucked away? )
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Old 29 September 2014, 07:05   #4
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I am sure Boris means as a radio callsign....not a physical 'place' .
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5. And for those on the Dorset coast who used to communicate with Portland coastguard check to see how well you can communicate with Solent coastguard from your normal cruise range.
Seems to me they are both potential issues. Place shouldn't matter assuming they are still using all the antenna sites, but is there a new protocol for calling virtual coastguard stations? Are they keeping some nominal names to use? That's why I asked if they are still identifying as Solent.

Does it actually matter what you call them though? MOC Fareham aren't going to ignore a call made to "Portland Coastguard" are they?
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Old 29 September 2014, 07:40   #5
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I am sure Boris means as a radio callsign....not a physical 'place' .

We did Poole - Weymouth Sat - and the ranges were active ...a minor detour but the first time I've known them active on a weekend - ever !

A good point made by Boris re the 'vanishing' of Portland on the radio....

Boris - may be after a steering wheel - watch out for an email ( hopefully you still have it tucked away? )
Yes still have the steering wheel.

Regard the ranges, I went into Chapmans Poole, while there I monitored channel 8 which the ranges safety boat uses and could see the safety boat in the distance zipping back and forth most of the afternoon intercepting yachts and getting them to alter course away from the danger area. (maybe they dont know what the red flag means) 8-)

I go down that way often, best practice ive found is simply to stop opposite st albans head in view of the lookout station if the red flag is flying and then call up the safety boat on the VHF and see what range the firing is happening, then you can either go around if heading for weymouth or alternatively if heading for chapmans they then know if you tell em and prevents them worrying and trying to intercept you. You can of course now call up the lockout on channel 65 I beleive directly and tell em your intentions and they can advise and are in contact with safety boat.

Its weird though all the times the flags have been flying ive never actually heard any guns going off, maybe they are very silent guns or im just too far away.
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Old 29 September 2014, 07:58   #6
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Changes to south coast Search and Rescue Co-ordination | News | News & Events | RYA

A small footnote at the bottom.

Given the area I'm a little surprised its not been raised before.

Lots of dive boats out sat too - making the most of calm seas this time of year . Hope it lasts !
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Old 29 September 2014, 08:20   #7
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Good find. Thanks
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Old 29 September 2014, 08:51   #8
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I was unaware of the changes, thanks for giving the heads up on that one!
As for those twat divers, if they are BSAC members they should know to check out with the coastguard & leave word ashore. Give a radio check, carry a spare radio as a back-up & inform coastguard asap if missing divers, giving their last known position!
I can only think that they were private dive boats?
At least this time no-one was lost!
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Old 29 September 2014, 11:37   #9
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3. How many people donít realise yet that Portland coastguard no longer exists?
Does this even matter?

Assuming a problem, the call should be broadcast to all stations, not directed at a single recipient. That would get assistance from whoever receives the call and is in position to help, rather than implying the targeted station is in contact with the caller and already working the problem.


jky
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Old 29 September 2014, 11:44   #10
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Does this even matter?

Assuming a problem, the call should be broadcast to all stations, not directed at a single recipient. That would get assistance from whoever receives the call and is in position to help, rather than implying the targeted station is in contact with the caller and already working the problem.


jky
Because in our area depending upon the atmospherics if thats the right term you might get some french coastguard or some coastguard from Gurnesy, Jersey or down to west country Devon, Cornwall, lots of Frenchies on the air waves at the moment.
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