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MayDay Call, Port Sheldon Sat. 4-28-2012


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Thought I'd post on this location even though it's not a fishing report but might be of interest to all boaters on Lake Michigan.

Sat., 4-28-2012 my crew and I were fishing out of Holland. We were about due West in 200 FOW. Around 1330 hrs as were pulling a couple of lines we heard on the VHF "Mayday - Mayday - Mayday, Port Sheldon, we're going down". The Mayday call did not sound like a hoax to us. It was an adult, male voice and sounded like a panic call.

Right at this time the weather had been rapidly deteriorating - wind, waves building and very limited visibility.

There was no other transmission. I waited for any more communication for about 30 seconds then called the Coast Guard in Holland. The call was answered by the Coast Guard in Grand Haven. They had not heard the Mayday communication. No other boats responded but I believe most all of the fisherman had already gone in for the day.

We pulled the remaining lines and headed for Port Sheldon. On radar I found very few boats but did check all that we found. We searched the area of Port Sheldon to about four miles North. After three or so hours the Coast Guard released us to return to Holland.

We never did see (nor spot on radar) the CG boat sent from Grand Haven but did see the CG helicopter once in the vicinity of Port Sheldon. When arriving back at Holland we met the Coast Guard boat from Holland just leaving the piers.

This call might well have been a hoax but there were still lessons learned.............

If you have a problem on the water you will be on your own for some (long) period of time

The Coast Guard (this is their words) "does not monitor nor has any means to communicate on channel 68".

The Coast Guard will want to know;

Your name

Your current location

Your antenna height (so they can calculate potential distance of the call you received)

The exact wording of the call you received

I know I'll be reviewing the safety of my boat before heading out again.

I know I'll make sure my crew knows how to use the VHF. Even with a limited amount of time some critical pieces of information to help in location would be depth of water and North or South of (XXX) Port.

In the future I'll also have some of my flares & flare guns in a more accessible location top side not in a hatch.

One thing that concerns me is would you call for help on channel 16 (knowing the Coast Guard could be hours away) or on channel 68 and hope to get a fishing boat in the area?

I'm sure there are some more knowledgeable Captains that might want to chime in on safety on the water.

Hopefully this was a hoax and no one was in danger or lost.

the Sarge

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Good post. I know my radio can monitor 2 channels so I always have it setup for 68 and 16. I honestly didn't know that some don't do that.

Good question about the 68 or 16 call and it makes me think. It's also reminding me to check all my safety gear.

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Thanks for the tip on 'hoax' Lake Erie mayday calls. I did find two posted 'hoax' transmissions and I'm positive that it is not the voice I heard Sat. I'll forward the sound clips to the guys who with me for their identification.

the Sarge

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From the coast guard website..

Are there penalties for issuing a false distress call? Check it out:

6 years in prison

$250,000 criminal fine

$5,000 civil fine

Reimbursing the U.S. Coast Guard for the cost of performing the search

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Yikes.

We were in Holland, well probably closer to Saugatuck/Douglas by the time we got done fishing. We did see the chopper overhead, but I don't recall hearing the call on the radio. We typically leave the radio on 68 and just keep it there. I think our radio is capable of scanning. May have to start using that feature.

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Yikes.

We were in Holland' date=' well probably closer to Saugatuck/Douglas by the time we got done fishing. We did see the chopper overhead, but I don't recall hearing the call on the radio. We typically leave the radio on 68 and just keep it there. I think our radio is capable of scanning. May have to start using that feature.[/quote']

Mark,

When I took my captains class it was drummed into us that it is law that says that you will monitor channel 16 for emergency calls, if you have a vhf on board. Is this done? Not very much. Enforcable? Nope. I know I've been guilty of not doing it on many occasions, but will make the conscious effort to do it every trip out.

I was at the gas dock at North Shore Marina in Grand Haven Saturday afternoon and heard about this incident from the attandant. She said that the CG had gone "Screaming out of the harbor" about a half hour earlier and that she heard the distress call on the radio.

We all need to be more conscious about safety and look out for one another, especially early and late in the season. With very few boats out this time of year, you or I could be someone else's only chance of survival.. Keep a heads up and an ear tuned, my friends. I know I will.

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Originally Posted by Far Beyond Driven

Anyone caught making a fake mayday call should be towed 40 miles out in a row boat and have the tow rope cut.

This might not be too bad a punishment if you had a couple of flat lines, some orange spoons and could row 3.5

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