When Your Boat Gets the Mayday Call

A rescuer's checklist arranged by priority. A supplement to the Special Report in our September 2009 issue

• Name of vessel?
• Location: latitude and longitude, visual landmarks, buoys, etc.?
• Last known position?
• Number of people aboard?
• Are all crew wearing PFDs?
• Any injuries or medical issues among crew?
• Present location of all crew?
• Nature of the emergency (flooding, fire, weather, grounding, etc.)?
• Will the ship’s radio continue to operate?
• Is a handheld radio available and working?
• Visual description of vessel?
• Is a life raft or dinghy available for evacuation?
• Description of life raft/dinghy?
• Description of available provisions (water, food, other)?
• Description of ship’s available and at hand signaling devices?
• Description of any personal signaling devices available and at hand?
• Give other vessels and rescue services a chance to communicate with you.
• Description of foul-weather gear/clothing (color, hoods, etc.)?
• Estimate the time to an abandon-ship scenario.
• Relay the estimated of time for you (or others) to arrive on the scene.
• Advise the crew to stay in visual contact with all members.
• Advise crew to maintain constant radio contact.
• Obtain additional information on the nature of the emergency.
• Offer possible suggestions or solutions.
• Brainstorm rescue procedures and operations.
• Obtain an on-site assessment of sea and wind conditions.
• Use flares and strobes to ensure the quickest visual contact.
• Firmly direct the distressed vessel’s transfer of crew.