Shamelessly stolen from Chris Partridge, but for those of you that 'do' mobile phones this is good...please do it...you never know...
Did you know you can text for the lifeboat on your mobile phone?
Texting has big advantages over phoning - you don't need a perfect signal, because the phone only needs a short time to send the message and if it doesn't get through first time it automatically repeats until the message gets through.
A fantastic extra benefit is that you can set your phone to automatically send your GPS coordinates so the coastguard knows exactly where you are. This can be done very simply by installing an app such as LocSMS (available on Google Play) on your phone. Other similar apps are available.
It is also a good idea to store a few canned texts such as 'I am in a rowing boat and we are sinking at this position. Urgent assistance required."
To use emergency SMS you have to register your phone number in advance at emergencysms.org.uk.
I have a Sony Experia which is waterproof (and tested to be!!) and, although I don't spend that much time messing about in boats these days, I wouldn't go back to a non-waterproof one - especially if you use training or tracking apps during a training session.
Chris asked for some advice from Coastguard and RNLI on this matter and at the meeting tonight the following was reported back (in summary)... so don't shoot the messenger, and feel free to make you own enquiries if you wish. I shall pass message back to Chris too.
Coastguard does NOT recommend this service for the following reasons:
SMS is not a supported guaranteed method of communication by suppliers or receivers. This is backed up by testing carried out using RNLI pages and SMS texts which have sometimes arrived days after pager alert.
The Coastguard station has ONE mobile phone for the whole office and it is not always manned.
There is no surety to the sender that the incident has been acknowledged and acted on.
Over time this may change but this is the current situation.
Coastguard DOES recommend:
Carrying a radio (RNLI recommend one the floats, or has a flotation device attached) with DSC (Digital Selective Calling) which is a means of calling other ship stations or shore stations, like ports, at the touch of a large red button. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has published guidance on the many advantages of DSC on their website. More info... http://licensing.ofcom.org.uk/radiocommunication-licences/ships-radio/faq/vhf-faq/
Having an EPRIB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) attached to each boat (or person - a bit overkill I feel) which alerts search and rescue services in the event of an emergency. Some EPIRBs also have built-in GPS which enables the rescue services to accurately locate you to +/- 50 metres.
More info can be found here: http://www.epirb.com/ and they vary in cost.
And the usual flares, whistle, life jackets etc...
I have just posted this on the rowing club forum:
It is true that text messages sometimes get lost, but voice calls always get through. As mobile coverage is good in our waters my personal belief is that everyone should bring their mobile, in a waterproof case if necessary, and be prepared to dial 112 or 999 if directed by the Cox. That person could back it up with an SMS message with the exact GPS coordinates which must help, I would have thought, if the text gets through promptly and the Coastguard happen to be watching the office phone.
Another possibility would be to SMS the coordinates to a club official on shore (it is club policy to have a nominated shore person to help in case of emergencies...perhaps we need to do that occasionally. I am as guilty as anybody on this front).