NEWS from BoatUS
Boat Owners Association of The United States
880 S. Pickett St., Alexandria, VA 22304
BoatUS Press Room at www.BoatUS.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Contact: D. Scott Croft, 703-461-2864, SCroft@BoatUS.com
Dispatcher for On-the-Water Towing Service Helps Save Three Kayakers Today
SAN DIEGO, Calif, December 22, 2009 – This morning the BoatUS California 24-hour Service Center in Costa Mesa, CA received a 'panicked' VHF radio mayday call at approximately 6:15 a.m. via the BoatUS San Diego VHF radio antenna site, apparently from a kayaker using a low-power handheld VHF radio. The San Diego weather this morning included gale warnings with frequent gusts to 40 mph and water temperatures in the mid 50s.
The on-the-water towing service has a series of tall VHF radio antennas along the California coastline tied to the central Service Center that allow the company to dispatch Vessel Assist towboats for boaters who have engine trouble or run out of gas, much like an auto club. BoatUS Dispatcher Paul Huffman responded to the mayday on VHF channel 16 after it received no response. Communications were broken - three people in the water approximately 600 yards off the beach at La Jolla Shores with a 'holed and sinking kayak'. Huffman was able to confirm the kayakers were in the cold water wearing life jackets communicating on a handheld VHF radio, which typically do not have the same transmitting range of a fixed mount VHF radio, but are more practical to carry aboard small craft.
On a land line, Coast Guard Sector San Diego advised that they and the San Diego Lifeguards could hear Huffman’s side of the communication but not the kayakers. The Coast Guard then advised they would keep boaters off VHF radio channel 16 to allow clear communications between Huffman and the kayakers. Huffman then placed the Coast Guard on speakerphone so they could hear kayakers' communication. Huffman was able to direct Lifeguards to the kayakers and the lifeguards assisted them to shore at La Jolla Shores at approximately 7:15 a.m.
After the rescue Huffman received a telephone call from the Lifeguards advising that the three kayakers had been transported to a hospital in La Jolla, CA and said they could not hear the kayakers VHF communications even when they were on scene. They also thanked Huffman for his assistance.
About BoatUS Towing Services:
Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) is the nation's leading advocate for recreational boaters providing over half a million members with a wide array of consumer services, including on-the-water towing assistance provided by TowBoatUS and Vessel Assist Pacific. Combined, these two towing fleets offer North American boaters the largest network of US, Canadian and Bahamian towing ports with over 290 locations and over 600 towing assistance vessels — more than double that of any other service provider.