The UK Coastguard received multiple VHF DSC Distress alerts from the French vessel, which had initially suffered engine failure before being repaired

Sailors and boaters are being reminded to carry at least two independent means of alerting the coastguard after a lengthy operation involving a French boat in the English Channel.

The UK Coastguard received multiple VHF DSC Distress alerts from the vessel on Tuesday (26 September).

The boat, which is French registered, was approximately 50 nautical miles south-south-east of the Isles of Scilly.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said the boat had transmitted distress alerts in French waters earlier in the day and no communications could be established.

A white motor boat being driven through the water

The boat was monitored until it reached Falmouth. Credit: MCA/You Tube

The UK Coastguard immediately sent out a Mayday relay broadcast asking vessels in the area for assistance and also made contact with the French search and rescue service, MRCC Corsen.

The St Mary’s RNLI all weather lifeboat and the UK Coastguard search and rescue helicopter based at Newquay were sent to assist, along with a French fixed wing aircraft.

The boat, with two people on board, was located en route to Plymouth and found to have suffered engine failure which had subsequently been repaired.

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The UK Coastguard monitored their onward passage via telephone, with the Lizard RNLI all weather lifeboat assisting them into Falmouth later in the evening.

Commenting following the rescue, the senior maritime operations officer for the UK Coastguard, Ross Parkinson, said: ‘This was quite a lengthy incident that involved both the UK Coastguard and MRCC Corsen. Thankfully, the vessel was located quickly by the air assets on scene and the two people on board were found to be safe and well.”

He had this advice for sailors.

“Having the correct communication equipment on board is essential for any type of trip to sea, but just as important is having the knowledge and ability to use it. Remember to always carry at least two independent means of alerting the Coastguard if you get into difficulty,” he stressed.

“If you’re heading out to sea we would always recommend that you carry a fixed VHF unit with DSC and ideally an EPIRB or Personal Locator Beacon. This is in addition having a fully charged mobile phone, flares, a powerful torch, and appropriate personal flotation devices such as a lifejackets or buoyancy aides,” he continued.

“If you get into difficulty use Channel 16 to alert the Coastguard to your position. When you make an emergency call to the Coastguard from VHF radio you will tell everyone within range what your situation is even if you cannot see them – there might be someone nearby who can help you more quickly than we can get help to you,” stated Parkinson.

“We can never get time back – speed is of the utmost importance. Don’t wait for things to improve. You need to inform us as soon as a potentially difficult situation is developing – once things start to go wrong, they develop rapidly,” he stated.

“And on a final note, make sure you have a plan on board for ‘what if?’ and make sure everyone on board knows their part within the plan,” added Parkinson.