Please select your home edition
Edition
Fremantle to Bali Race 728x90

Irresponsible activation of EPIRBs - bush walkers and sailors

by Nancy Knudsen on 15 Jun 2013
I guess you would have to agree there was a valid reason to let off the EPIRB in this case. Photo by US Coast Guard, incident subject of a book by Michael Tougias, ’’A Storm too Soon’’ .. .
In a case that, to my knowledge has not been replicated in the sailing world, the Rescue Co-ordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) launched an investigation into claims that a bush walker had activated the beacon because he was running late and wanted a ride back to his car. It is an interesting case for the sailor because of multiple opinions among the sailing fraternity that often sailors activate their beacon merely because they are frightened. The incident occurred in February this year, and the bush walker has just been cleared of the charge of misuse. The bush walker, from Nelson on the South Island of New Zealand, has dodged a hefty fine after, it was found, wrongly being accused of misusing a personal locator beacon while tramping on the West Coast in February. Ben Winnubst, 67, activated the beacon on the third day of a five-day off-track 'tramp' in the Hooker Wilderness Area, south Westland. He told Solid Energy rescue helicopter's crew who airlifted him out that he was struggling with the challenging terrain and had underestimated the time it would take him to tramp out. In February after the incident, Maritime New Zealand said a tramper 'who appears to have activated his personal locator beacon simply because he was running late and wanted a ride to his car wasted time, taxpayers' money, and potentially put others at risk'. Maritime New Zealand's general manager of safety and response services, Nigel Clifford, said the man, who had written books about tramping, had now agreed to plan future expeditions more carefully to avoid underestimating the difficulty of terrain. No further action would be taken. 'If he had continued tramping, it was likely a search and rescue operation would have been initiated because he would have been overdue and the area's conditions would have made it difficult to find him,' Mr Clifford said. 'We certainly do not wish to discourage people from activating beacons when they are in distress but it is not a decision that should be taken lightly.' He reiterated the need for people to be prepared, saying beacons were not a substitute for good planning. 'People going into wilderness areas should be aware of weather forecasts and carry suitable communications equipment such as a mountain radio. Cellphones should not be relied upon.' At the time, Mr Clifford said the rescue of the tramper had cost $10,000 and tied up the helicopter for two and a half hours. Back to the sailing world, there are many cases where the crew have abandoned their boat but the boat, unaided, makes it to shore. In an iconic case about four years ago, also in New Zealand, the crew of a sailing boat who insisted on activating their emergency beacon against the wishes of the owner/skipper of the boat ended up paying for the rescue because of the outcry in New Zealand. The yacht, which had to be abandoned, washed up several months later on Australian shores. See http://www.sail-world.com/index_d.cfm?nid=56974!Sail-World_story. The question remains: When and how should officialdom step in in the case of potentially irresponsible, inexperienced or frightened cruising or racing sailors?
Wildwind 2016 660x82BIA 2016 Sydney Boat Show 660x82InSunSport - NZ

Related Articles

The New Bavaria Cruiser 34 - you won't believe this is a 34' yacht!
The Sydney International Boat Show sees the World Premiere of the Bavaria Cruiser 34 - 2 Cabin version. The Sydney International Boat Show sees the World and Australian Premiere of the Bavaria Cruiser 34 - 2 Cabin version. The new Cruiser 34 offers more space and more comfort than ever before with a bigger cockpit, dual helms and ergonomically designed seating. This is the first time the entry level Bavaria cruiser has been offered in twin helm!
Posted on 19 Jul
Navathome Australia brings RYA Theory to your door
The RYA Cruising Syllabus has been built up over years of best practice development in Sail and Power Boat skippering. The Royal Yachting Association Cruising Syllabus has been built up over years of best practice development in Sail and Power Boat skippering. Split into a theory and practical syllabus the training modules take you in steps from a Start Yachting orientation through to Yachtmaster for either power or sail.
Posted on 5 Jul
Free $US3,000 Carbon Vang with SouthernFurl boom orders in July
Southern Spars is giving a free carbon vang - valued at US$3,000 - with SouthernFurl in-boom furlers ordered in July Southern Spars is giving away a free carbon vang - valued at US$3,000 - with all of their SouthernFurl in-boom furlers ordered in July. Carbon gas vangs make a great addition to the furling boom package, though if you’d prefer to keep your existing one, Southern Spars will offer you a 5% discount on the price of your boom instead.
Posted on 29 Jun
Newport Bermuda Race - High Noon takes honours
As the Newport Bermuda Race fleet rushed to the finish line on Monday in the wake of the first-to-finish boat, As the Newport Bermuda Race fleet rushed to the finish line on Monday in the wake of the first-to-finish boat, the powerful 100-foot grand prix Comanche, to the surprise of many they were led by an unusual boat and crew. High Noon, at 41 feet, is fully 59 feet shorter than Comanche and tens of feet shorter than many other entries.
Posted on 22 Jun
Platino recovery - Family confirms that tug has made rendezvous
Reports in social media say a salvage tug has made a rendezvous with the Platino earlier than expected. Reports in social media by family and friends of Nick Saull, the crew member killed during a catastrophic incident abroad the 66ft yacht Platino say the salvage tug which left on Tuesday night has made the rendezvous earlier than expected. The Facebook report says the tug, Sea Pelican, arrived on Friday morning, the weather in the area has eased and with a more favorable outlook.
Posted on 16 Jun
Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron to ban bottled water
Approval has been given to create a ban on bottled water that comes in plastic containers. The RQYS Management Committee has confirmed that approval has been given to create a ban on bottled water that comes in plastic containers. This will place the club as a leader in environmental impact management in Australia and around the world. The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club earlier this year did likewise. Who’s next?
Posted on 16 Jun
Platino recovery operation well underway as crew arrive in Auckland
An ocean-going tug has left Whangarei to locate and attempt to salvage the luxury yacht Platino An ocean-going tug left Whangarei late on Tuesday night to locate and attempt to salvage the luxury yacht Platino which has been abandoned 550km NE of New Zealand. Weather dependent, we could reach Platino by Saturday and have the yacht and body of the person on board back in New Zealand early next week,” says Inspector Graham of the NZ Police.
Posted on 16 Jun
Search for Platino crew member lost in Pacific Ocean is suspended
Maritime New Zealand have advised that the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) has suspended the search for t Maritime New Zealand have advised that the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) has suspended the search for the sailor lost overboard from the yacht Platino on Monday morning, 550km north of New Zealand. Sail-World understands that a tug has left NZ to rendezvous with the boat. That boat is believed to have an NZ Police officer on board responsible for the recovery of the deceased.
Posted on 15 Jun
Platino survivors expected in Auckland on Thursday
Southern Lily, with three crew members from the 66ft yacht Platino aboard, is expected to arrive in Auckland on Thursday The container ship, Southern Lily, with three crew members from the 66ft yacht Platino aboard, is expected to arrive in Auckland on Thursday morning. The master of the Southern Lily, Shashi Prakash, said that seas in the region at the time of the rescue were 3 metres high making for a tricky operation to rendezvous with the dismasted yacht.
Posted on 15 Jun
Platino rescue - Three crew safely aboard container ship
Two men and a woman have been rescued from their battered yacht, Platino, around 550 kilometres north of New Zealand Two men and a woman have been rescued from their battered yacht, Platino, around 550 kilometres north of New Zealand by the crew of the container ship Southern Lily. A rescue line was used to help get the trio safely on board around 3pm.
Posted on 14 Jun