How to Send a Distress Call
Every sailor hopes he will never need to say those three words. “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday”, but you need to be prepared in case you find yourself in a situation you need to send a distress call to the Coast Guard.
The proper way to send a distress call:
You may only have seconds to send a distress call. Here’s what you should do:
Procedure for VHF Channel 16 MAYDAY:
- If you have an MF/HF radiotelephone tuned to 2182 kHz, send the radiotelephone alarm signal if one is available. If you have a VHF marine radio, tune it to channel 16. Unless you know you are outside VHF range of shore and ships, call on channel 16 first.
- Distress signal “MAYDAY”, spoken three times.
- The words “THIS IS”, spoken once.
- Name of vessel in distress (spoken three times) and call sign or boat registration number, spoken once.
- Repeat “MAYDAY” and name of vessel, spoken once.
- Give position of vessel by latitude or longitude or by bearing (true or magnetic, state which) and distance to a well-know landmark such as a navigational aid or small island, or in any terms which will assist a responding station in locating the vessel in distress. Include any information on vessel movement such as course, speed and destination.
- Nature of distress (sinking, fire etc.).
- Kind of assistance desired.
- Number of persons onboard.
- Any other information which might facilitate rescue, such as length or tonnage of vessel, number of persons needing medical attention, color hull, cabin, masks, etc.
- The word “OVER”
Stay by the radio if possible. Even after the message has been received, the Coast Guard can find you more quickly if you can transmit a signal on which a rescue boat or aircraft can home.
THIS IS BLUE DUCK-BLUE DUCK-BLUE DUCK WA1234
MAYDAY BLUE DUCK
CAPE HENRY LIGHT BEARS 185 DEGREES MAGNETIC-DISTANCE 2 MILES
STRUCK SUBMERGED OBJECT
NEED PUMPS-MEDICAL ASSISTANCE AND TOW
THREE ADULTS, TWO CHILDREN ONBOARD
ONE PERSON COMPOUND FRACTURE OF ARM
ESTIMATE CAN REMAIN AFLOAT TWO HOURS
BLUE DUCK IS THIRTY TWO FOOT CABIN CRUISER-WHITE HULL-BLUE DECK HOUSE OVER
Repeat at intervals until an answer is received.
Procedure for Digital Selective Calling (DSC) Radio: DSC MAYDAY
Here some additional information about the Coast Guard in our region
Ninth Coast Guard District
Buffalo NY 14203-3189