Jacob Adolphus, emergency communications officer at the Department of Disaster Management, stood on the patio of the Flax Administration Building on Virgin Gorda and spoke urgently into a VHF radio.
“Mayday! Mayday! This is Trini boy. Mayday! Mayday!” he said, adding, “My boat is on fire, but I have taken a dinghy. But two persons are onboard!”
Mr. Adolphus wasn’t actually in distress, however. He was demonstrating how to use a VHF radio as part of the government’s “Sail Safe” workshop series.
The VG workshop, which was held Friday, was the last of three sessions hosted across the sister islands last week. The first was held on Oct. 3 at the Emile Dunlop Community Centre on Anegada, the second on Oct. 5 at the Methodist Church Annex on Jost Van Dyke.
The workshops, held between the hours of 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., targeted a range of marine professionals, including captains, fishers and recreational boaters. Each session covered four areas: safety on the seas, Virgin Islands boating laws and regulations, first aid, and VHF radio training.
“Noting that we’re the sailing capital of the world, a lot of the excursions that tourists experience here are water-based,” Sister Islands Programme Coordinator Sasha Flax told the Beacon, adding, “We wanted to do a workshop that would help to equip the people in the marine industry to deal with any emergencies that may come about.”
The series was hosted by the Sister Islands Unit under the Deputy Governor’s Office in collaboration with the DDM, the VI Shipping Registry, VI Search and Rescue, the BVI Red Cross and His Majesty’s Customs.
Following Mr. Adolphus’s demonstration on Friday, he gave volunteers a chance to practise proper radio protocol and distress calls.
Participants were also informed that the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College offers a two-day VHF radio course.
Anyone who completes the training can get a VHF operator’s licence from the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission.
The college is currently offering the course at its main campus on Tortola but may introduce it to the sister islands in the near future.