If you ever doubted that you should wear a personal locator beacon (PLB) while sailing and prepare adequately when solo, here is the latest evidence, in the form of a sailor's life that would surely have been lost without perfect preparation. It might have happened in the Irish Sea, but no matter where we sail the lesson is there to remind us that 'it could have been me'.
A solo voyager has been rescued nine miles off shore after he was thrown from his vessel and a signal from his personal locator beacon was picked up by Coastguard. He was even put back on board by rescuers.
At 4.07pm Falmouth Coastguard contacted Milford Haven Coastguard about a signal from a PLB, with a location of nine miles offshore from St David’s Head. Coastguard officers checked vessel and contact details on the UK Beacon Registry database and identified that this PLB was registered to the RHIB (Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boat) Merlin.
Milford Haven Coastguard requested the launch of St Davids RNLI Lifeboat and the rescue helicopter from RAF Chivenor. The rescue helicopter located the man in the water using the signal from the beacon and winched him into the aircraft. The man was checked by the crew in the helicopter and in agreement with Milford Haven Coastguard returned to his vessel and has made the return voyage to Milford Haven.
The single handed skipper was on voyage from Milford Haven to Kilmore Quay in Ireland when a wave knocked him out of his RHIB. He was thrown into the water but was wearing a survival suit, lifejacket and had a PLB with him. The man spent approximately three hours in the water.
Milford Haven Coastguard Watch Manager Rob James says
'Fortunately this skipper was prepared for a single handed voyage offshore and having the right gear has saved his life. The kill cord on the vessel did work and cut the engine when he was thrown from the boat.
Wearing a survival suit and lifejacket enabled him to survive the three hours in the sea while awaiting rescue and the PLB which was activated sent the exact location of the casualty to the Coastguard.'
Notes to sailors:
All 406 MHz EPIRBs and PLB’s should be registered with the rescue authority where you live to ensure a speedy rescue. Not to do this takes away significantly from the value of the equipment and the speed of any necessary rescue.