Communications key for boaties

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COASTGUARD has an important message for all boaties: “If you can’t call for help, we can’t rescue you.”

This was a core message of Safer Boating Week last month.

Coastguard chief executive Patrick Holmes said with more boaties starting to get back on the water after winter, it was important to remember how to keep safe.

“Alongside a lifejacket, waterproof forms of communication, such as a marine VHF radio or an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB), are the best things to take with you while boating,” he said.

“While a lifejacket will help prevent you from drowning, a marine VHF radio means you can contact someone for help – and this increases your chances of survival.”

Coastguard volunteers know just how important it is for boaties to have waterproof communications. Last year volunteers from Coastguard Tauranga came to the rescue of a man stranded on his yacht after the steering suddenly failed and he triggered his EPIRB to get help.

The seasoned yachtie was battling an angry, ferocious sea and was unable to get back safely to shore. His rescue beacon gave Coastguard volunteers his location and he kept in contact with them via his VHF radio as they made their way over to help him.

“Rescues like these highlight just how important it is to carry two forms of waterproof communications,” Mr Holmes said.

“The man was stranded at sea for 12 hours when he was saved. Who knows how much longer it could have taken, or if we would have reached him in time, if he didn’t have the ability to communicate with his rescuers.

“Lifejackets and waterproof communications work together, and they are both essential to keeping you safe on the water,” he said.

Coastguard Boating Educations general manager Mike Brown said not only was it vital to carry a VHF radio, knowing how to use one correctly was a legal requirement.

“Any person operating a maritime VHF radio must hold a Maritime VHF Radio Operator Certificate, unless they are using it in an emergency or a distress situation.

“The Coastguard Boating Education Maritime VHF Radio Operator Certificate ensures people are confident using a VHF radio as well as other search and rescue equipment like EPIRBS.

“We offer the option to learn online or in a classroom, as we want this course to be accessible to as many people as possible.

Having the skills to use a VHF radio properly and with confidence can be the difference between life and death.”

To book a Maritime VHF Radio Operator Certificate, course go to www.boatingeducation.org.nz

For more information about safer boating, go to www.saferboating.org.nz

– Supplied

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