Here at Sartech we’ve just received a GME MT410G Personal Locator Beacon for a full service. Nothing unusual about that, we get dozens of them every month from owners keen to keep their safety equipment in top working order. The majority of them will never be activated in a life or death situation, but this one has. 

On the 26th July during the Round Ireland RIB Challenge 2013, Andy Proudfoot was nine miles offshore on passage from Milford Haven to Kilmore in the Irish Sea when he hit a big wave-trough combination at about 24 knots and was thrown out of his 5-metre RIB Merlin. Fortunately, Andy was well equipped and well dressed for such an emergency.

With his lifejacket inflated Andy found himself in the water over 100m from Merlin, which had stopped thanks to the boat’s kill-cord. Because he was wearing a dry-suit, Andy decided not to deflate his jacket and attempt the swim back to the boat. 

His handheld VHF radio had smashed on impact so he reached for his PLB and activated it.

After picking up the distress signal and confirming the owner and vessel details, Milford Haven Coastguard requested the launch of St Davids RNLI Lifeboat and the rescue helicopter from RAF Chivenor.

The rescue helicopter located Andy and winched him into the aircraft, where he was checked-over before being winched back down to his boat and escorted back to Milford Haven by the lifeboat.

Milford Haven Coastguard Watch Manager Rob James said: "Fortunately this skipper was prepared for a single handed voyage offshore and having the right gear has saved his life. Wearing a survival suit and lifejacket enabled him to survive in the sea while awaiting rescue and the PLB which was activated sent the exact location of the casualty to the Coastguard.”

Clockwise from top left: Back onboard Merlin two days after his rescue; Andy about 20 minutes before parting company from his boat; Andy’s GME MT410G helped save his life; Photograph of the rescue from a passing ferry.