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Thread: Why doesn't the Coast Guard state where the boats that need help actually are?

  1. #1

    Default Why doesn't the Coast Guard state where the boats that need help actually are?

    Yesterday I heard the Coast Guard state on the radio that there was a vessel in the vicinity of Naked Island that needed help. That's the first time I believe that I've ever heard the Coast Guard describe the location of a boat other than just giving lat/long. All the other times, they give their lat/long (coordinates) and that's it. No additional description of "near Pigot Point", etc. I understand the need to give a boat's exact location, but why not add a verbal description as well?

  2. #2
    Member Dupont Spinner's Avatar
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    That would be great info to have...but the CG would have to get it from the distressed boat in the 1st place and just getting good coordinates is tough but agree if you can tell them let them know. As a rescuer it is easier for me to know something by name then punch in the coordinates.

    I had to call in a rescue helicopter for a non water rescue basically in the middle of nowhere. While I was speaking to the 911 dispatcher with coordinates I could hear them being relayed to the copter crew and then I hear that they need some map named landmarks besides Lat/Long. When the crew arrived I asked why they needed the landmarks, the reason being is many times folks are not running the proper DATUMs. Double check your DATUMs whether out on the water or out in the back country. Even do a spot check against a chart to ensure lat/longs are matching up.

  3. #3

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    I was thinking that they could enter the coordinates and the location would show up on a chart. Then they could include local landmarks in their description of where the vessel is. This is easily done on Google or similar sites. Heck, assuming that the coordinates that they are given by the vessel are correct, they could even give a description as detailed as let's say "at the entrance of Hobo Bay in Port Wells".

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    Member JOAT's Avatar
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    Map datums won't make a difference in a typical rescue situation. You basically have 2 datums in use in Alaska. People who use USGS topo maps have to look at NAD-27 data to get the map to match the ground. Casual users and chart users are on WGS-84 which is the most current datum.

    The difference on the ground between NAD-27 and WGS-84 is in the range of 50-100 yards. That's plenty close enough for a helicopter to find the LZ and certainly close enough to find a boat on the water. Talking map datums with people who don't understand topographic mapping will do nothing but confuse them. The GPSr comes out of the box set on WGS-84. Leave it there.
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  5. #5

    Default Lat/Lon

    In my opinion, only giving the lat/lon and not a named location will DRASTICALLY reduce the chances of ordinary pleasure boaters renderring aid to a vessel in distress. It is rediculous to me that the CG does not give a named location. If I am out pounding in a big sea on a foggy day, the CG could give a lat/lon on the VHF and I likely will not punch it in to the gps or bust out a chart, if they said "between Perry Island and Lone Island" I could be right around the corner and potentially help out in a short amount of time if I am in the area.

    Based on experience, the government often times has policies and/or proceedures in place that are not logical. The every day government employee has no power to make a logical change, it would have to probably go through 14 layers of requests and approval and eventually approved by congress for appropriation for a new manual and then get changed 5 years later.

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    Charterboat Operator kodiakcombo's Avatar
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    The USCG BROADcast is broad, so if they said a boat near black point on Kodiak needs assitance I know kodiak has several black points, not to mention black points thru out the broad cast area(where boaters can recieve). And what if a boater responds to a wrong area and gets in trouble either frome weather or mechanical or whatever then who is liable, I would go for the Lat-long and general area, ie south end of Kodiak or something like that.
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  7. #7

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    OK, so I just fired off an e-mail to the USCG. I'll pass on whatever response they may provide.

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    Member Frostbitten's Avatar
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    I heard the CG put out several calls using general location info in the past two weeks in PWS and Ressurection Bay.

  9. #9

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    Have heard general locations a lot, there presice info via GPS Lat/Long is how they run there world. The station is in Kodiac so they say one thing and someones going to go to that point near them, yet 50 mailes away. There are places where names are doubled. Every one with a GPS has the ability to put in GPS Lat/Long and hit go. How many can do that, I got a new Garmin and have not went thru those steps, my manual is very close and learning is on my list, just been lazy. And I'm a big fan of readyness! So
    At least 100% be sure of how to give Lat/Long or use DSC

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    most likely they we're able to get all the infor from the distressed boaters or they would have given it, having stood radio watch in my uscg time i did my absolute best in getting as much info from the boaters and as much as i could out to the other boaters, thats what they do is save peoples lives and like to do it as best as they can

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    weren't able

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    Member AK NIMROD's Avatar
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    seems to me in last year or so they have been giving locaton name along with lat / long. alot more. but lat long makes it more exact. pws HAS 2 LONG BAYS AND 3 sawmill bays if i remember right. many times i'm not able to write l /l down and sure won't remember them . so it is great when the do give the name of the location
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  13. #13

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    For what it's worth, the few times I've heard the Coast Guard call out a vessel alert for a boat in trouble they have given the general area. I recall one time they didn't even have the lon/lat. I like the lon/lat if they have them. If you miss the lon/lat they broadcast you can call them back for a "re-do". On most GPS chart units you can quickly toggle over to that location and see exactly where it is. I only tried to respond one time (to a location about seven miles from me) and by the time I got underway someone had already come to aid (out of fuel about 35 miles out) and I went back to fishing.

  14. #14

    Default Uscg lat/lon

    Sometimes they give Lat/Lon, sometimes they give the place name, sometimes they have someone on the radio that sounds like they have a mouth full of bubblegum and is whispering. It is not consistent. I think the USCG is great and they are hero's, but this is an area that I feel could be improved upon.

  15. #15

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    Hello,

    Most of us have GPS units that have a toggle switch that can be very quickly brought to the exact lat/lon that is broadcast over the radio. I have a pad of paper right next to my radio that I use to log the distress call and write down the coordinates. If the USCG was to broadcast a general vicinity it would be helpful, I agree, for most private boaters to be able to identify if they are in the general vicinity, but in a 5' ground swell, we can be 50 yards from the mariner in the water and never see them.

    What the prudent mariner does is toggle to the lat/lon, see if it is in their range to respond and go to that coordinate. once arriving at the coordinate, take the vessel out of gear and let it drift for a minute. this gives you the approximate "set of the current" once figuring out the set, take that heading until you arrive at the people in the water. With the lat/lon, you should be able to quickly use your GPS to figure out how far the distressed vessel is from your position and the heading you need to take to respond. Hope this helps a bit.............

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    Great thread! I've forwarded a link to both USCG Sector Command Centers and the District Command Center for a review of procedures. I've already gotten a response from Sector Anchorage Command Center and will post (on this thread) any results/changes. Thanks everyone for bringing this to our attention; we depend on your feedback to ensure that we provide the highest quality service to mariners possible. Mike Folkerts USCG

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    Member Frostbitten's Avatar
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    Thanks Mike, and thanks to all your counterparts for doing what you do.

  18. #18

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    I'm glad you have connections, Mike. I'm still waiting for a response to my inquiry. Am also looking forward to the the answer. Thanks.

  19. #19

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    I was fishing K-Bay last Thursday (I think) and heard a "Pan Pan" transmission from Coast Guard sector Anchorage. It involved a life raft that had been found on a beach and they were wondering about the safety/whereabouts of the crew. I don't remember the name of the bay or the boat name (I didn't recognize either one). I wondered where it was, as no lon/lat was given. My guest from outside, who has little experience, said immediately, "why don't they give the coordinates". I didn't know where the location was by name, and I doubt it was anywhere near me, but it did illustrate the need for more information. Maybe they didn't have better information, but if they did, it would have been good to know. Anyone else hear it?

  20. #20
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    I just got this email today from Sector Anchorage:

    Sir,
    I've asked two different sets of comms watchstanders and both groups indicated it's their practice to include both lat/long and a geographic reference. However, during the early stages of a SAR case, it's possible that the mariner may only be able to provide a lat/long (for a variety of reasons). When that occurs, our watchstanders will immediately issue a UMIB based on what is known at that instance. As the case progresses and we're able to correlate a geographic reference to the lat/long, the UMIB is updated accordingly.
    I hope this helps. Please let me know if I can assist you further.
    Very respectfully,
    LT Mike Anderson

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