How to Make a Distress Call

31 August 2021

What happens if you run into danger when sailing, or if your boat gets damaged?

In some very dangerous situations, you may need to alert Search and Rescue quickly. Read on for some tips on how to make an effective distress call and notify Search and Rescue.

Make a distress call and notify Search and Rescue:

1.      If you can, make your distress call on VHF channel 16; failing that, call 196 (from a mobile).

2.      Mayday procedure: “Mayday, Mayday, Mayday, this is (vessel name and call sign), my vessel is (nature of distress and assistance required), my position is (GPS position or bearing and distance from a known landmark), we have (number) people on board, this is (vessel name and call sign), over”

What if you suffer damage near the coast?

1.      Drop anchor to slow down, or stop
2.      Make sure everyone is protected: put on your life jacket and make sure everyone on board is wearing their life jacket
3.      Make a call on VHF channel 16, or call 196 from a mobile
4.      Describe the situation
5.      Be ready to fire your distress flares
6.      Obey the instructions given by Cross Med
7.      Stay tuned to channel 16 or on line with the 196 emergency services

SNSM’s mission of the SNSM (French Search and Rescue association) is to provide assistance to anyone in danger either at sea or along the coast, in mainland France and French Overseas Territories. It has a network of some 8,506 dedicated volunteers. For more informations, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Help them save lives!