Question - what to do on the water if engine wont start ??



Im very new to boating, and I have flares & radio on my boat.


I'm wondering, if I'm on the water, say in cockburn sound, its 4pm or so, and when I go to start my boat I can't get it to kick over - no matter what I try.


Its not an emergency, so not a pan pan call, but you dont want to be stuck out, especially after dark, cause then it gets a bit more serious. 


Scenario 1 -  So whats the correct way of calling another boat to tow you in on their way back, is it acceptable to use channel 88, do you get a fine ?


Scenario 2 -Also, if its a flat battery, and radio doesnt work, then what, are flares acceptable, or would you get fined as its not an emergency ?


So whats the acceptable guidelines or etiquette ?


Thanks All !!

Auslobster's picture

Posts: 1867

Date Joined: 03/05/08

Two words.

Tue, 2017-04-18 01:09

 Sea Rescue. They will sort you out, obviously prioritising due to nature of emergency/non emergency, in the event someone else may be having more urgent issues at the same time. Depending on where you launched, Cockburn/ Rockingham/Fremantle Sea Rescue would be the ones to contact...others on here, or Google, will no doubt provide you with their non emergency radio channel(s). If you haven't already done so, and it's safe (ie not on top of breaking reef, in navigation channel, etc) deploy your anchor to hold position.


In fact, now's as good a time as any to mention that you should be logging on with them BEFORE you leave, stating destination/# of crew on board/amount of fuel carried/estimated time of return. The added benefit here is that you determine if your radio is working or not before finding out the hard way!


If radio is disabled, above Sea Rescue can also be contacted using mobile phone...they have an after hours number. Failing that, flares, and failing that, EPIRB. And, if you logged on to begin with, and do not log off at the agreed upon time (possibly due to radio not working), they WILL come looking for you. Many people register with their local Sea Rescue, which means they'll have a mobile contact number on file, so the rescue team has the option of attempting to call first.


And just a side 88 should ONLY be used for emergencies. Depending on where you are, use other channels for boat-to-boat contact. Again, contacting Sea Rescue beforehand will get you this information.

sea-kem's picture

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Date Joined: 30/11/09

 But they teach you all that

Tue, 2017-04-18 05:26

 But of course they teach you all that in the Skipper's ticket course  don't they 


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 They do, and we should all

Tue, 2017-04-18 12:08

 They do, and we should all know it, but at least he is thinking ahead and looking for guidence. 

sea-kem's picture

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Date Joined: 30/11/09

 My comment is sarcasm,

Tue, 2017-04-18 13:57

 My comment is sarcasm, because there are still fuckwits out there running up on reefs in their million dollar boats. My hat off to the bloke for asking, no critisim levelled at him. 


Love the West!

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 Most of this is covered in

Tue, 2017-04-18 12:12

 Most of this is covered in the Skippers Ticket work book..... may pay to grab one and revise.


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Date Joined: 05/05/06

No harm in asking, not

Tue, 2017-04-18 09:40

No harm in asking, not everyone is perfect.

Brock O's picture

Posts: 1510

Date Joined: 11/01/08 call to sea

Tue, 2017-04-18 11:29 call to sea rescue, I was on a first name basis for a while...and have there numbers stored. I've towed a boat before from close distance to ramp as I seen them waving me down and was on my way in but wouldn't trouble other when out deeper, know what the answer would be...

Always got the basic tools on board in any case, good marine battery and plenty of fuel accounts for troubles.

Iceman's picture

Posts: 712

Date Joined: 17/03/09

Contact details & towing

Tue, 2017-04-18 13:25

 Below is a link for the phone contact details for all sea rescue across the state.

As mentioned always a good idea to log on.

In relation to towing - not a good idea to have another private vessel tow you or you tow/assist as insurance may not cover it. Always call sea rescue as we are fully covered in the event of yours or another vessel being damaged during the tow.

I have seen private vessels tow others into harbours and it can go wrong very quickly if they do not know what they are doing. If you come across vessel needing assistance call sea rescue and standby until they arrive.

Law of the ocean states you must provide assistance to a vessel in distress but there is a limit as to how much assistance you provide without putting yourselves or your vessel in danger


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Rob H's picture

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Date Joined: 18/01/12

 Probably not of great

Tue, 2017-04-18 14:16

 Probably not of great importance except in the context but "law of the sea" says you must provide assistance to PEOPLE in distress, not vessels.

No body is under any obligation to assist or tow a vessel, but you must to people unless you believe it will put yourself in danger.


 Give a man a mask, and he'll show you his true face...



The older you get the more you realize that no one has a f++king clue what they're doing.

Everyone's just winging it.


Hutch's picture

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 Have a short piece of rope

Tue, 2017-04-18 18:27

 Have a short piece of rope handy and learn to pull start your motor


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Paul H's picture

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 Check the man over board

Tue, 2017-04-18 19:00

 Check the man over board switch hasn't been pulled off before calling for help (but I'd assume you had checked by this stage)


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Rob H's picture

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Date Joined: 18/01/12

 and jiggle the gear lever

Tue, 2017-04-18 19:25

 and jiggle the gear lever


 Give a man a mask, and he'll show you his true face...



The older you get the more you realize that no one has a f++king clue what they're doing.

Everyone's just winging it.


Posts: 35

Date Joined: 09/12/15

 Thanks for all the comments

Tue, 2017-04-18 22:59

 Thanks for all the comments & tips everyone. I have my skippers ticket since Feb, but im fairly sure it just covered emergencies & pan pan situations. I just had a flick through the book & there is no guidance about non-emergency situations(unless I missed it ?). Which is why im asking about this scenario, which isnt an emergency, but would be rather unpleasant !


I think the sea rescue is probably the best idea without causing too much inconvenience, Freo sea rescue is $50 a year, and Cockburn is another $35, thats would cover 95% of where I will be going, might be worth joining up !


Reason I asked, is I was out on my own in Mandurah and I left my ignion key in the on position for 30 minutes(engine off), with the sounder & phone charger & radio switched on. When I went to start, the battery had died. I had a booster pack onboard, so hooked that up & didnt have a problem since. But it made me think about what would I do. Or if I ran out of fuel, or dropped my keys over the side, who knows what it might be.


ps. Im thinking I need a new battery also

Posts: 376

Date Joined: 24/04/11

30 minutes

Wed, 2017-04-19 04:37

if you only get 30 minutes out of your battery, you need a new one.


Posts: 367

Date Joined: 23/04/14

Sea Rescue

Wed, 2017-04-19 07:02

I fully support the above comments about sea rescue and especially logging in BEFOREHAND.

Also, depending on where you are and the conditions, a Pan Pan call could be appropriate with a failed engine e.g. no power and wind or current is pushing you toward danger. 




Posts: 33

Date Joined: 08/09/13

 On the battery note ...last

Wed, 2017-04-19 07:23

 On the battery note ...last week I got given one of those smaller lithium starter packs... well I was very sceptical to say the least with this thing that is not much bigger than my mobile phone and suppose to start a car.   Well how wrong I was... hilux dead flat this week... got it out hooked it up an Bang away it went . These things I definitely rate from my experience and I am going to keep it in boat and hopefully never have to use it

for 180 odd bucks n weights 500 grams well worth having one on board 

sea-kem's picture

Posts: 10717

Date Joined: 30/11/09

 Good feedback, I was given

Wed, 2017-04-19 08:09

 Good feedback, I was given one of those units for Xmas and have been a little skeptical myself.


Love the West!

Stevo81's picture

Posts: 1045

Date Joined: 16/04/12

 Yeah they work suprisingly

Wed, 2017-04-19 08:11

 Yeah they work suprisingly well! 


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