What to do if things go wrong

We hope it will never happen to you and with careful planning and the proper equipment you can do a lot to keep yourself out of trouble and to minimise the consequences when things do go wrong.

If you do have to call for help, the recognized methods are shown in the graphic below:

Distress Signals

Mobile phones are not on the list although they can of course be used to dial 112 or 999. The emergency number 112 can be used on most mobiles when it is locked or missing the SIM.

The disadvantages of a mobile phone as against a VHF radio are:

  • Coverage - parts of the coastline do not have mobile phone coverage
  • Only the Coastguard receives your call. A call made by VHF radio will be heard by all nearby vessels and one of them may be able to offer immediate assistance.

Calling for help

If you call the Coastguard by VHF or phone, be ready to tell them:

  • name of the vessel
  • your position which can be either your latitude and longitude or a bearing and distance from an known point
  • nature of the problem
  • description and type of vessel

If you don't have a radio or mobile phone to call the Coastguard, the simplest visual signal is to wave your arms slowly up and down as shown in the graphic above.

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