Discussions are ongoing to see if the SeaVue Scheme can be further developed perhaps in terms of “partnerships” with organisations with a similar interest such as the NCI, the RNLI, the MVS, The Sea Safety Group, Trinity House, the Coastguard Association, Coastwatch Scotland and even the SNSM in France.
With effect from spring 2015 the MCA and OFCOM have allocated VHF Channel 65 to the National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) for use at the NCI’s 50 plus Coastwatch stations around the coast, but this is NOT for use in situations relating to distress or potential incidents at sea which should always be reported to the Coastguard.The new NCI Channel 65 facility may well be useful to SeaVue watchkeepers in terms of their being able to contact the nearest NCI look-out to determine the prevailing weather conditions; similarly it may well be useful to the NCI station to know that there is an experienced watchkeeper afloat who if called on VHF might be able to provide a pair of eyes to check out a vulnerable craft hidden from view from the Coastwatch look-out for example. For a map showing the location of NCI look-out stations clickHERE
At the 2015 AGM it was decided that all MNA Boat Club members would automatically qualify as Seavue watchkeepers i.e. there is no longer a requirement to complete a separate application form.The primary function of a Seavue watchkeeper is to SPOT a vessel or person in difficulty or at risk, PLOTtheir position and immediatelyREPORT the essential facts to HM Coastguard or the appropriate inland waterway authority. Throughout the course of the incident it is essential to keep a detailed RECORDof proceedings. The whole process is summed up by the catch-phrase SPOT, PLOT, REPORT and RECORD.The word “PLOT” in this context means establishing, by visual observation, the bearing and distance of a casualty, rather than by plotting its position on a chart in Lat. And Long., although those who’s boats are fitted with GPS, Radar or Chart Plotters will no doubt use these aids to provide the rescue co-ordinator with a more precise fix.It is obviously essential that Seavue watchkeepers should know who to contact to report an incident or potential casualty situation and the best way to go about doing this. At sea HM Coastguard are the SAR co-ordinators. If available, the most appropriate way to contact the Coastguard is to call them on VHF Channel 16 and then shift to whichever working channel they designate. You also need to contact HM Coastguard with a “MAYDAY RELAY” in the event of your hearing an unanswered MAYDAY call.For those watchkeepers afloat who mainly use their boats at sea it is a good idea to register the details of your boat with HM Coastguard using the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) CG66 Registration Scheme.You can join online, or download the form HERE and send it to your nearest Coastguard Co-ordination Centre. Forms can also be obtained from any Coastguard Co-ordination Centre or Sector Base; MCA Marine Office; RNLI boathouse, or look out for them in your Local Marina or Sailing Club.On inland waters there are different authorities responsible for safety according to which particular waterway you operate your boat on so it will be necessary for individual members to ascertain the name and contact details of the appropriate authority and to establish and agree how best to contact them to report an incident. For a list of responsible authorites see HERE.The basic information that the Coastguard or inland waterway authority will require is:1.Information as to the type and identity of the craft in difficulty2.The nature of their “distress” 3.The bearing and distance of the craft from a given shore location (and/or a GPS position in lat/long if at sea or OS Grid Reference if inland) 4.The number of persons on-board or visible (including children and animals, and whether or not wearing life jackets or buoyancy aids)5.Your own position and intentions, and finally the local timeOn conclusion of the incident, as a means of sharing your experience with other MNA Boat Club members, please complete a Seavue Incident Report Form(download HERE)and send a copy to Commodore@seafarersafloat.com together with an available photos.In certain circumstances it may also be necessary to subnit a CHIRP report - more details HERE
Members will be provided with an ID Card (shown below) which will identify themselves to the relevant waterway authority covering their own particular area of operation, and/or to their local Coastwatch station or simply to use as a “business card”.
The Seavue Scheme formalises a method for MNA Boat Club members to use their eyes and ears when going afloat to “Spot, Plot, Report and Record”incidents and potential casualty situations to HM Coastguard or, for those who operate their boats on inland waterways, to the relevant safety authority for that particular waterway. Also it is becoming increasingly important to keep an eye out for suspicious or unusual activity indicationg potential illegal immigration or terrorism as requested by the Border Agency - see below.Acting as the emergency services’ “eyes and ears”, and reporting incidents to them in a speedy and effective manner, is the main contribution that we can make to safety on the water and to the national search and rescue community. The professionals involved in Search And Rescue (SAR) operations will judge us by the ‘professionalism’ with which we perform our “spot, plot, report and record” function and at the end of the day lives may depend on it
Border Agency Advisory Letter to Sailing Clubs, Marinas and OwnersThe UK Border Agency have issued an advisory letter/newsletter (link below) addressed to all boat owners, Marinas and Sailing Clubs regarding the reporting of suspicious or unusual activity at sea. Any reporting can be made to the local Border Force General Maritime Team details of which can be found below or alternatively in the newsletter along with the contact details for Border Force Regional Command and Control Unit. Whilst the team will also visit cargo vessels, yachts and fishing/diving charter boats either as a result of information received, or just to meet people and share views, it is recognised that you, and your clients/members/colleagues, are at sea much of the time, and have the ability to quickly identify and report suspicious activity with regards to privately owned boats, yachts and inflatable craft.Any reporting should be made to the following contact number:General Maritime Team Tel: 01202 579233 between 06:30 to 23:59 daily or alternatively:Border Force Regional Command and Control Unit Tel: 01303 299073 between 00:01 and 06:29 dailyBorder Agency Advisory Letter to Sailing Clubs,