Preparation saves lives, say Pacific search and rescue experts

22 May 2017

‘Prep, check, know’ to save your life if you’re heading out on the world’s biggest ocean, say experts attending the Pacific Search and Rescue (SAR) conference in Auckland (22-26 May).

The Pacific is legendary for its changeable weather and massive distances between countries. New Zealand deals with about 100 SAR incidents annually across the region.

SAR experts hope to prevent searches by increasing safety awareness. “If you prepare, you’re more likely to make it back,” says Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand Manager Mike Hill.

Search and rescue pros recommend that you – prep, check, know:

  • prepare your boat – give it a good safety check. Service the engine, check and change the fuel and check the battery.
  • check your gear – make sure your lifejackets are fit for purpose and you have enough for everyone on board, that you have two forms of communication which should include a distress beacon.
  • make sure you know the “rules of the road” on the water, so you understand your area’s requirements. Know your boat’s limits – if it’s designed for inshore use, don’t take it far from land.

“Being able to call for help if you get into trouble is crucial,” says Thierry Nervale, Pacific Community’s Deputy Director Transport. “You should carry at least two types of emergency communications equipment that work when wet. VHF radios and distress beacons speed up search efforts by giving rescuers your location.”

“You can’t rely on your mobile phone. It may be out of range, have limited battery power or become water-damaged. You need to take a water proof case and another way to communicate.”

If you do need to be rescued, activate your distress beacon and leave it turned on until help arrives, and make a mayday call on the international distress Radio Channel 16.

Notes to editor

1. The PACSAR steering committee is supported by the Pacific Community (SPC), an international development organisation owned and governed by its 26 members that is committed to enhancing the well-being of Pacific peoples. In addition to the five member countries of the PACSAR steering committee, through SPC membership all other Pacific Island Countries or Territories are members of the PACSAR family.

Find out more:

Pacific Community (SPC) website[]

2. RCCNZ is the national coordinator for all major (Category 2) search and rescue incidents within New Zealand’s search and rescue region – an area covering more than 30 million square kilometres. It responds to significant incidents on land, air and sea, and all distress alerts from emergency beacons.

RCCNZ is part of Maritime NZ and is government-funded to provide a professional 24/7 search and rescue response service.

Read about RCCNZ

3. For more about search and rescue in the Pacific and safety tips visit:

Search and rescue in the Pacific


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