Always, ALWAYS keep your radio on: Especially at night. Monitor channel 16 and possibly scan other channels if there are popular cruisers' stations in your area. Mark and Tina were hugely assisted by channel 66 which is the Grenada Cruisers channel that many people monitor. Luckily, due to it's popularity, a repeater was added which meant they could reach people all the way in St. Georges from here in the Grenadines (without the repeater this would not have been possible).
If you hear trouble, call on the radio first: If there are signs of distress and trouble, try hailing the boat in question on the radio over and over. Try several stations as not everyone only monitors 16.
If you don't get the boat in question on the radio, try other boats in the area: Other boats might be aware of the situation as well and able to help. The more boats that can get involved in one way or another - the better. There is safety in numbers.
Have your air horn, spotlight and/or pepper spray handy: We now have all three in our cockpit when we are up there in the evenings and by our bedsides. Criminals do not like loud noises and bright lights. (Please, let's NOT turn this into a gun debate, we do not have guns on board and do not ever plan on having guns on board. Period.)
Have flares handy and be sure they are not expired: The boat in trouble might not be able to help themselves if there is a struggle, so setting off a flare for them can be a big help. As an aside, some flare guns can also house shotgun shells and flares themselves can be considered pretty devastating weapons. Our flare gun is stainless steel and can, quite literally, pack a punch - though I am not suggesting that shooting anyone is the answer as sometimes that can just exacerbate a situation. This is a tirelessly debated subject and one I don't care to get into at this juncture.
If you are of able body, go assist: It has been decided that if we are ever faced with a situation like this, the men of our boat would assess the situation and assist if possible while the women would stay back with the kids. This option might not be for everyone, and that is okay, but know that there are many ways to help aside from physical intervention. (Tina mentioned that the boat that left their anchorage could have really helped them get their anchor up and get out of there as she was very seriously injured and severely bleeding.)
Do what you can in the aftermath: Offer a medical kit, medical advice, make calls on the radio to line up further help and do what you can to soften the blow, so to speak.
- Many thanks to our friends from Kaleo for sharing this procedure with us. We have a sheet with all call protocol; securite, pan pan, and mayday laminated and taped in our navigation station.