Should you log a passage plan with authorities?

Almost every week we carry a story of yachts sinking, being abandoned or losing people overboard. There is one from Britain today that made me wonder how many people lodge a passage plan with Marine Rescue before they go offshore.

It concerns a Yorkshireman who was reported overdue on a trip across the North Sea and is carried on

A yachtsman from Yorkshire, reported missing has been found on his yacht in the North Sea, following an extensive search coordinated by Humber Coastguard. His 17ft yacht, Equinox, was approximately 80 miles east of Spurn Point (at the mouth of the Humber) and rescuers found him relatively quickly today, thanks to an emergency positioning beacon aboard his yacht which was activated.

The 69-year-old’s family contacted the Coastguard on Thursday as they had become concerned for his safety. They had not heard from him since 4 July when he telephoned his son to tell him he was planning his passage home. His boat was last seen in the Kiel Canal, at Brunsbuttel, Germany. A police investigation revealed that the missing man had not used his bank cards since 3 July, leading Coastguards to assume that he was at sea.

The full report can be read here.

To be honest, in my journey from Busselton in WA to Yamba in NSW and back to Sydney, I usually didn't bother to lodge a passage plan. I figured I might change destination or just continue sailing if it was a nice night, and I didn't want people sitting by the radio waiting to hear from me. I had some interesting moments, but never needed to call for help.

Certainly when crossing the Great Australian Bight we had a sat phone and made a daily call to a mate, but I've never felt the need to check in morning and night with the local authorities. I guess I've always had a “safety third” approach to life, probably because I've always thought I could get myself out of any situation that arose.

But the sheer volume of “missing at sea” stories I read every week has got me thinking – maybe it is a good idea if someone knows roughly where I am. 

What do you think? I'd hate to see it made compulsory, but maybe if we all checked in voluntarily it would prevent a few of these “missing in action” stories making it into the press.

Your comments below would be appreciated.

– Roger McMillan, Editor


Jeanneau JY60
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JPK 11.80 July 2024