The challenging search and rescue is a 'timely reminder' to carry a distress beacon

The rescue of two French nationals whose yacht sank last Sunday has prompted a call for all recreational boaters to carry a distress beacon.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s (AMSA) Rescue Coordination Centre Australia (RCC Australia) coordinated the challenging rescue of the pair who were en route to New Zealand.

The pair alerted the New South Wales (NSW) Water Police, on Sunday morning about 11.15am (AEST) via satellite phone, that their yacht was sinking approximately 385 nautical miles east off Eden on the NSW coast.

AMSA Emergency Response Division General Manager John Young said: ‘The vessel was not equipped with a distress beacon, which in these situations can sometimes mean the difference between life and death.”

The police contacted RCC Australia, which in turn tasked AMSA’s search and rescue Dornier plane out of Essendon in Victoria and located the yacht just before 3.30pm, dropping a light stores container, including survival equipment, strobe lights and an EPIRB.

Heavy seas delay rescue

A merchant ship responded to a shipping broadcast issued by RCC Australia to vessels in the area as did HMAS Perth, which was in the area conducting an exercise assisted in the rescue, and a Navy Seahawk helicopter based at Nowra.

The merchant ship was prevented from rescuing them on arrival at 6.25pm because of heavy seas and strong winds but was able to locate them as they were using strobe lights dropped by the Dornier.

The Navy helicopter winched the pair to safety from their inflatable tender in darkness about 8.30pm on Sunday.

Mr Young added: ‘It was extremely lucky the Navy was conducting exercises as part of the International Fleet Review near Jervis Bay, allowing the helicopter to use HMAS Perth as a temporary base to reach the rescue scene a long way offshore and back.

‘We strongly encourage recreational boaters and sailors to carry a GPS encoded distress beacon if they plan on travelling further than two nautical miles from shore.’

AMSA urges people to ensure they have their beacon registered online and their details up to date. Visit http://beacons.amsa.gov.au/index.html

Register for Rescue

It follows a ‘Register for Rescue’ campaign launched by HM

Coastguard and beacon manufacturers, which urges owners of emergency 406

megahertz beacons, Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) or

Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) to register their details on the UK Beacon

Registry.

It

is free and simple – go to www.gov.uk/406beacon