Ocean Going Vessels Should Have Multiple Sources of Communication Aboard

Boatwatch.org have been assisting with the search for Bob Peel and his boat since mid-March in the Eastern Caribbean. Could this case have had a happy ending if the captain had been able to establish voice contact with a search and rescue agency in addition to the activation of his EPIRB?

Published 3 years ago

Capt. Robert (Bob) Peel

Report from Boatwatch.org

A BOLO has been requested for SV KALAYAAN, UK registered Sun Odyssey 54DS, Blue Hull, with Captain Bob Peel on board. He departed Tyrell Bay, Carriacou on March 18th with plans to sail north to Puerto Rico.

For more details on this case see previous news report Caribbean, St. Vincent: EPIRB Alert – Solo Yachtsman Missing 

RCC San Juan confirmed SV KALAYAAN’s EPIRB was activated on March 19, 2020. RCC Trinidad and Tobago were assigned this case and conducted a search with no result.

SV KALAYAAN does have a 6-man Sea Safe life raft and Bob is a very experienced mega yacht captain.

Chris Parker of the Marine Weather Center has provided part of his initial drift analysis which indicates the vessel is probably drifting generally West in the Caribbean, probably closer to the ABCs and Venezuela than to Puerto Rico or Hispanola. Chris predicts that the target may be North of Bonaire and partially submerged at:

Bob’s Boat, Kalayaan

Wednesday April 15: 14-50 N /68-07 W
Thursday April 16: 14-47 N / 68-25 W

Chris’ final drift analysis using EPIRB data is now available in graphic form, along with his conclusions on Boatwatch.org.

Anyone with information should contact RCC Trinidad & Tobago, USCG or [email protected]

Could this case have had a happy ending?

This information drives home the necessity of having multiple sources of communication aboard an ocean going vessel. An EPIRB and VHF radio is not sufficient.

While we are huge supporters of HF SSB Radios on boats, the reality of it is in a MAYDAY situation, you may not have sufficient time to be searching for a voice contact on multiple bands.

While the DSC button on both your VHF and HF radios are great, nothing can replace an actual voice call to the Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Center via a satellite phone, telling them you are in DISTRESS, and have activated your EPIRB, and advising them the NATURE OF YOUR DISTRESS. The EPIRB of course does not indicate the nature of the distress, your physical condition, or other factors that are so vital in a search and rescue situation, nor does it confirm to you that help is on the way.

Cellular telephones should not be considered a means of emergency communications except for coastal cruisers within sight of land.

We in the USA, UK, Australia, etc., are very fortunate to have extremely professional and highly trained Coast Guard Search and Rescue Services available to us at the touch of a button or microphone. However, as we have seen twice now in a year, EPIRBs sometimes go unanswered.

See https://boatwatch.org/unresolved/sv-trinavis-missing-caribbean/ regarding the single-hander from Italy who went missing on a voyage from St Maartin to Colombia. We believe both of these cases may have had happy endings if the captains had been able to establish voice contact with a search and rescue agency in addition to the activation of their EPIRBs.

Boatwatch.org will strive to be an advocate for the lost and missing at sea.

Any comments or suggestions will be welcomed at [email protected]


The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of Noonsite.com or World Cruising Club.

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