PLB alert helps HM Coastguard rescue kayaker from rocks

The kayaker was off the coast of Melvich, near Thurso when he capsized and activated his PLB just before midday yesterday (Saturday 27 April) 
Daniel Bailey at HM Coastguard's MCC
HM Coastguard’s Mission Control Centre based at the National Maritime Operations Centre in Fareham picked up the alert and passed on the registered beacon’s location and owner’s details to Shetland Coastguard Operations Centre who coordinated the rescue.

The Thurso RNLI lifeboat was launched and headed to the coordinates given by the PLB. At 12:40 the lifeboat found the Kayaker, who had swum to rocks, exhausted and cold but not injured. The kayaker was brought back to shore by the lifeboat and checked over by the ambulance service before being allowed home.

Dan Bailey, Senior Maritime Operations Officer, said ‘The kayaker had done exactly the right thing, he was well prepared and had all the right safety equipment to help us help him. This is a great example of how a Personal Locator Beacon, when properly used and registered can save a life.'

'Without means of communication this incident could have easily turned into a tragic one, I can’t reiterate enough how important it is to have the right equipment to give you the best chance of being located and rescued should the worst happen'

When taking to the sea we would always advise people to tell someone at home their passage plan including points of arrival and departure, timescale, the number in your group and other relevant information. Check the weather forecasts and tidal conditions and ensure that your skill levels are appropriate for where you are kayaking. Wear a buoyancy aid and check that equipment is functioning properly, that your distress flares are in date and are stowed where you can reach them. We also recommend carrying a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) especially in the more remote locations.  Carry a VHF marine band radio (fitted with DSC if possible) and learn how to use it. Where there is good network coverage then it is worth carrying a mobile phone in a waterproof bag. Remember to call the Coastguard if you get into difficulty, preferably via channel 16 on your radio or if not by calling 999 and asking for the Coastguard.
The Coastguard recommends the RYA SafeTrx app which is a FREE tracking smartphone application for owners and skippers of all types of leisure and small craft that monitors your journey and alerts your emergency contacts should you fail to arrive on time.  The app allows you to directly contact HM Coastguard in the event of an emergency and could potentially cut vital minutes off the time taken to pinpoint your location.  Signing up to SafeTrx will give HM Coastguard the information that they need – including a description of your vessel, shore contact details, and other relevant information - to get you an even swifter response in an emergency.

HM Coastguard would also strongly recommend using ID stickers on your equipment, which includes all your basic information and allows others to raise the alarm and find you if they find your boat or equipment unattended.  Likewise, if you lose your gear whilst you’re out paddling please inform the Coastguard.  That way we’ll know that you’re safe and we won’t launch a search operation for you.

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