15 February 2019

When James capsized, he knew his beacon was his best hope of raising the alarm.

Victorian paddler James says he was knocked out of his kayak by a regulation wave that caught him by surprise.

He was amazed at how quickly he went from someone with all safety measures in place to “an idiot swimming beside a boat” in rough seas.

“Once in the water, it was hard to think straight and, as I got colder, I found that my fingers didn’t work so well. I realised that if I was going to set off my beacon, it had better be soon.

“I started to think about my partner and how worried she’d be, as I was well overdue by that time. Looking back, the right thing to do would have been to set off the beacon as early as possible.”

James set off his personal locator beacon (PLB), and a rescue helicopter was dispatched.

“Based on my experience, my advice to you is always carry a distress beacon,” James said.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has partnered with Maritime Safety Victoria (MSV) to share the message that boaters and paddlers need to carry a distress beacon, so they can raise the alarm if they unexpectedly enter the water.

‘Carry a distress beacon’ is a key message in MSV’s new boating safety campaign ‘Prepare to survive: Know the five’.

Watch James tell his story and get more advice from MSV and AMSA at msv.vic.gov.au/prepare/beacon