Safety first so within a few hours of the dismasting, we were in contact with Jill on a regular basis via email. We use Sailmail via our Icom IC-718 radio and Pactor Dragon modem. The signal was very strong from the Hawaii station so our make-shift antenna worked pretty well. However, it wasn’t uncommon for it to take 30-45 minutes to connect and send/receive the emails. We had a Iridium Satellite phone, which was not reliable. It rarely connected and once it did, would drop within a few minutes, but could be used if necessary.
We attempted to use our the Icom radio to communicate with the Coast Guard or the 14300 Marine net but didn’t have any luck. We could hear them, but they couldn’t hear us, so our antenna wasn’t that effective.
No Mayday Needed
We were not in danger, we had a fiberglass composite boat which would not sink, plenty of food, a water maker, propulsion and communication. There was no reason to put out a mayday or set off the EPIRB, causing a ship to divert or use Coast Guard resources. The underwriter stated that I was cavalier when not to having done so, but if I had, they would have forced us to get off and scuttle Dragonfly, making it a total loss. That wasn’t necessary.
We decided early on that we would contact the Coast Guard, when it made sense. We knew that once they were contacted, they would require a check-in every four hours. While this seems reasonable, it was burdensome when trying to monitor our single engine, fuel, course and get some rest.
J May 3.png” width=”166″ height=”259″ />ill & I had a communication plan, I would email her every morning and evening, She had her Iphone with her at all times, so if I contacted her prior to that, she was ready to respond. With every email, I would provide her our Lat/Long, course over ground, speed over ground and conditions. Jill put them into her navigation software and posted them on YoTreps, for others to see. Jill provided us with the weather forecast. It was understood that if she didn’t hear from us within 2 hours of when she expected to she would contact the Coast Guard immediately. As it worked out, I contacted her more often than planned.
I asked Jill to contact the Coast Guard two days before arriving in Hawaii, just in case we had a problem toward the end. As expected they put us on a 4 hour communication schedule after spending 1-2 hours getting all the requisite information. We truly appreciated having them there. The additional work was just a necessary part of the experience and delayed until it was more easily managed.
Our original destination was Hilo on the NE side of the island, but Jill was able to make arrangements for us to go to Honokahau Harbor on the SW side of the island. She also identified alternative places to anchor, and companies who could bring fuel to Dragonfly or provide a tow.
Once the dismasting was complete and all the mast and rigging were gone there was never a safety concern by any of the crew.