Transmit a May Day distress call only when imminent danger threatens life or boat and immediate assistance is required. Transmit a Pan-Pan ("Pahn Pahn") urgency call when the safety of a person or vessel is in jeopardy, but the danger is not life threatening. Call Falmouth Coastguard on the Iridium phone at the same time as issuing a Pan-Pan.

The equipment on Enchantress relevant to a distress call is:


  1. Make sure GPS & AIS is on and giving a position reading on the VHF screen
  2. If possible first set the "Nature of Distress". Press the [DSC MENU] button and rotate the [SELECTOR] to the appropriate nature of distress the press [ENT]
    1. Nature of Distress options are: Undesignated, Explosion, Flooding, Collision, Grounding, Capsizing, Sinking, Adrift, Abandoning ship, Piracy, and MOB (man overboard).
  3. Lift red cover over Distress key, and press the [DISTRESS] key for 5 seconds
  4. The radio will retransmit the Distress signal every four minutes until it receives an acknowledgment, at which point it will switch to Channel 16
  5. To cancel a distress call, push [CLR].


  1. Turn on the Iridium Phone (on the switch panel)
  2. Once a signal is ready enter the phone book and select Coastguard
  3. Call Falmouth Coastguard and give the emergency details as per the Mayday or Pan-Pan and ensure that they have the Iridium Phone number and EPIRB Details


  1. Turn on the SSB (press the "Power" switch)
  2. Push the 2182KHz button to select the emergency frequency
  3. Push the two orange-labelled buttons together (Tx Freq and Alarm) for 1 second to initiate transmission of the distress signal. Let it transmit for at least 30 seconds.
  4. Push Alarm to turn off the alarm transmission
  5. Take the microphone (black handset) and transmit a May Day
  6. If you get no response on VHF or SSB, get out the Using the SSB checklist and try to contact the Coast Guard or begin scanning SSB channels 13-37, then 43-88, (ham frequencies) and then marine frequencies 8-1 to 8-9. When you hear voices, transmit May Day


  1. Fire red parachute or handheld flares (fire downwind)
  2. Smoke from can
  3. Waving arms above head
  4. Continuous horn, or SOS (Morse Code ..._ _ _ ...)
  5. Dye marker in the water
  6. Fly November code flag with Charlie code flag underneath it
  7. Fly orange flag with black ball and black square on it
  8. Turn on strobe light (high intensity flashing once/second). Also there's a strobe light on each PFD.
  9. Anything else to draw attention to the boat (spray paint HELP on a sheet and tie on deck, hang from shroud, eg)


  1. Do not let a large ship come too close to your boat, or it is likely to dismast it. Make them launch a lifeboat and come to you, or fire rockets bringing lines to the boat.
  2. To get help from a helicopter, follow the directions of the pilot. Communicate over the VHF or with hand signals. The downdraft from a helicopter may make it impossible to hear and difficult to stand upright. Do not touch a wire cable from a helicopter until it has grounded in the water or on deck. Do not cleat a rope hanging from a helicopter or you will tether it.
  3. If an injured person is transferred to another boat or helicopter, write down their name and nature of injury/illness and pin it in a ziplock bag to his/her clothes.



  1. Transmit May Day on the VHF and the SSB while you still have power.
  2. Transmit using the emergency buttons of each radio according to the manual instructions.
  3. Transmit May Day on Channel 16 as follows:
    • May Day, May Day, May Day
    • This is 'Yacht Enchantress, Yacht Enchantress, Yacht Enchantress', callsign MZIR4 (Mike, Zulu, India, Romeo, 4)
    • May Day
    • 'Enchantress' is at Position (Lat and Long) from GPS/Chart Plotter, or distance and bearing from landmark
    • We are (describe nature of emergency)
    • We require (describe nature of assistance needed)
    • Aboard are (describe number of people, age and condition if relevant)
    • We have (describe safety equipment)
    • 'Enchantress' is 13m long, sailing sloop, cream hull with red trim.
    • Over
  4. If there is no response after a few moments, repeat the above message.

[If you have transmitted a May Day or Pan Pan, and later find you no longer need assistance, you must cancel it.]

  1. May Day
  2. Hello all stations, hello all stations, hello all stations
  3. This is 'Enchantress, Enchantress, Enchantress' MZIR4
  4. The time is .......
  5. Seelonce Feenee (to cancel May Day) or Cancel Pan Pan
  6. Out


Alfa                        Juliett                     Sierra

Bravo                     Kilo                        Tango

Charlie                   Lima                       Uniform

Delta                      Mike                       Victor

Echo                      November               Whisky

Foxtrot                   Oscar                     XRay

Golf                        Papa                      Yankee

Hotel                      Quebec                   Zulu

India                                                            Romeo

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This page was last modified on: January 31, 2013

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