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GMDSS A User's Handbook

By Denise Bréhaut

GMDSS A user's handbook








The Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) provides a fast and efficient way of calling for assistance at sea, whatever the size of craft or its geographical position. Since it was first published, this book has helped explain the system for anyone using GMDSS and has been excellent pre-course reading for students.



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The News

Yacht sinks off Guernsey

Credit:  Tom HarveyFour Polish Yachtsmen had a very lucky escape when their yacht sank after hitting rocks in Guernsey's  Little Russel channel between Herm Island and Guernsey’s east coast.(Picture:  Tom Harvey)

At 17:50 local time on Friday 25th September 2015, 999 calls were received from members of the public that a vessel appeared to have sunk a mile off Bordeaux Harbour, just north of St Peter Port.  

The Yacht, Melina of Fleet, a ferro-cement Endurance 40 two-masted schooner, had left St Peter Port on the strong north-going tide on passage towards Cherbourg when it apparently hit rocks close to the Roustel Beacon and sank very quickly. The incident was seen by people ashore, who called 999.  The St Peter Port Lifeboat which was on exercise off the East coast of Herm was immediately tasked to the area.

The four crew members appear to have had no time to make a distress call or launch their liferaft, and found themselves in the strong northerly tidal water.  They were swiftly swept away from the sunken yacht.  None were wearing life-jackets.

When the Lifeboat arrived on scene at 18:06, only the tip of a mast was visible just North of Roustel Beacon. The lifeboat searched an area approximately 1 mile North of Roustel, and picked up 3 of the 4 survivors, 2 men and a woman.

According to a report by John Frankland,  a local lifeboatman who was in the area in his own rigid inflatable boat and was aware of the emergency, also searched and managed to locate the last crewmember who was struggling in the choppy sea.

The yacht, a British Registered Ferro-Cement Schooner, appears to be owned by a Polish Olympic yachtsman, and was apparently being restored as part of an on-going restoration. 

But for the prompt action of members of the public, the skill of the RNLI, and the fact that this incident happened in daylight, the outcome could well have been a tragedy. The four Polish crew members are recovering in a local bed and breakfast. 

Photo (left) shows Melina of Fleet in happier times.

Links to other coverage of this story:

Practical Boat Owner Article

Royal National Lifeboat Institute Report

Melina of Fleet Facebook Page

Polish Website


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