Confusion over emergency beacon

Following a Yachting Monthly story in our April issue, the safety equipment giant McMurdo have issued a statement clearing up confusion over an ocean yachtsman’s rescue electronics.

Shipwrecked multihull designer Richard Woods, 51, had onboard his 32ft catamaran Eclipse , a McMurdo 406 Mhz GPS Fastfind Personal Locator Beacon when he was rescued by the frigate USS Ford off the Pacific coast of Mexico. Woods, who has more than 70,000 miles of offshore sailing experience, activated the PLB but did not believe it was working properly and so he used his Iridium satellite phone to help coordinate he and his partner’s rescue in a storm force 10.

However Simon Rabett, manager of the rescue coordinator centre at Falmouth Coastguard, said a PLB alert did come in from Eclipse seven minutes before a phone call was received by Falmouth from the UK colleague Woods had contacted on his Iridium phone. The shore contact gave Falmouth Woods’ Satphone number and the Coastguard then contacted Woods aboard Eclipse via the Iridium satellite telephone.

McMurdo’s managing director, Robert Hill, said: ‘We wish to clarify that the PLB on board worked above and beyond its expected capability, rapidly transmitting an emergency alert signal via 406MHZ, despite being operated from within the confines of the catamaran’s cabin.’