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Flares help rescuers locate capsized boat after EPIRB error

Whitfords

Flares helped rescuers find three divers and a dog in a capsized boat in Western Australia after an EPIRB sent them 8kilometres in the wrong direction.

The two men, one woman and a black Labrador were rescued by Whitfords Volunteer Sea Rescue off the coast of HIllarys one afternoon in February.

The water police received a call regarding an EPIRB (emergency position indicating radio beacon) activated about 10km north-west of Hillarys Boat Harbour, the community news reports.  A few minutes later there were two separate sightings of a flare.

Two vessels from the group headed to where the EPIRB was indicating. But, as radio operations leader Peter Peebles explains, “However, the sightings of the flare from the members of the public indicated the vessel in need of assistance was about 1 to 2km off the coast west of Mullaloo Beach.”

One of the rescue boats altered course to the area where the flares were sighted and found a submerged 16ft aluminium dingy with three people – two males and a female – holding onto the mostly submerged vessel. They were pulled from the water and taken back to shore. The vessel was recovered by the other rescue boat.

The three had been diving near Little Island when the weather got rough. They decided to go back to Hillarys, but the anchor was stuck, so the anchor rope had to be cut.

Meanwhile, water filled the boat and the engine would not start. The three clung to the boat and later let off the flares.

Mr Peebles said the EPRIB was an old model and gave coordinates 8km away from where the vessel was found.

Mr Peebles urged boaters to log on with a sea rescue group before heading out on the water.

Feb 27, 2018