Police Urge Hikers To Learn Orienteering Instead Of Relying On Smartphones

orienteeringPolice in northern Scotland have issued a call for hikers to learn orienteering rather than relying on their smartphones for navigation, the BBC reports.

Grampian Police have had to lead four separate groups to safety in the past week. The latest rescue included the use of mountain rescue teams and a Royal Navy helicopter to retrieve 14 hikers. The hikers were in the Cairngorms, a rugged mountain range with some of the UK’s tallest peaks.

Police said that the growing use of smartphone apps for navigation can lead to trouble. People are relying too much on technology without actually understanding the world around them. Police then have to rescue them at taxpayer expense.

Hiking with an app sounds to me like the antithesis of hiking. Basic orienteering with a map and compass is not difficult to learn. I’ve been teaching my 6-year-old and his brain hasn’t melted. Not only do a map and compass not have to rely on getting a signal, but they help you understand the land better and give you a feel for your natural surroundings.

So please folks, if you’re going out into nature, actually interact with it!

Boy drifts a mile out to sea in rubber ring

sea, ring, rubber ringA twelve-year-old boy was rescued a mile off the coast of Wales today when he drifted away from shore with only a child’s rubber ring to keep him afloat.

A lifeboat crew saved the boy as he suffered from hypothermia and was about to fall unconscious. If he had, the crew said, he would have slipped out of the floating ring and drowned.

The boy had been playing by the seaside and had been carried off by the current into the sea. He had been drifting about 45 minutes when the rescuers found him.

The UK’s National Health Service reports that lifeguards respond to more than 13,000 incidents a year on the UK’s beaches. Many of these incidents are due to rip tides, which are more common than most people think, the NHS says. Inflatables are easily pulled out to sea by currents and strong winds.

If you are going to the beach, follow these important beach safety tips. And parents, please watch your children. You don’t want them to become a news item.

[Photo courtesy Greg Yap]

IAATO comments on missing Antarctic yacht

The IAATO comments on the yacht missing in the AntarcticThe International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO) has released a statement regarding the Berserk, a Norwegian yacht that went missing in the Antarctic last week. While calling the incident “tragic,” the statement reiterates that the ship was not part of the organization, and was operating without regard to important safety guidelines.

The IAATO is a member-based organization that is focused on delivering safe and environmentally responsible options for travel to Antarctica. The association is made up of tour operators and travel companies who work together to ensure that sailing through the Southern Ocean is free from danger and available to all. Members are required to obtain all the necessary sailing permits from national authorities before they set out on their voyage, as well as provide an itinerary that offers details on what course they will be following as they travel throughout the region. The crew of the Berserk, did none of those things before setting out on their ill fated journey.

On Tuesday, February 22, the Berserk was sailing 18 nautical miles off the coast of Antarctica when it activated its emergency locator beacon. Massive storms were hitting the area at the time, and the high winds and rough waters prevented rescue operations from commencing for more than 24 hours. By the time search and rescue teams hit the area, the beacon was no longer transmitting and the yacht could not be reached by radio. It was believed that the ship had five passenger on board, but two of them were later found, alive and well, on the Antarctic continent, where they were embarking on a journey to the South Pole. The story took an ominous turn later in the week when an abandoned life raft was discovered adrift in the ocean, with no sign of passengers. Later, it was discovered that the Berserk was sailing without permits and without alerting any kind of national authority of their planned course.

Sailing in the Southern Ocean is a dangerous proposition, even in the best of times. The storms are powerful and massive icebergs lurk just beneath the surface, waiting to punch a hole through the hulls of passing ships. Because of these dangers, the IAATO released a set of guidelines for independent sailors on private ships passing through Antarctic waters. Sadly, had the crew of the Berserk heeded those guidelines, there is a better chance that they would be alive today.

To read the full statement from the IAATO, click here.

[Photo credit: IAATO]

Search for missing antarctic yacht officially called off

Search and rescue operations for the missing antartic yacht the Bererk have been called off. After nearly a week of searching, rescue teams have called off efforts to find a missing yacht that disappeared in Antarctic waters last week. The ship had three crew members on board at the time.

The Norwegian yacht Berserk was sailing in the Southern Ocean last Tuesday when the region was beset with bad storms. For unknown reasons, the crew activated the ship’s emergency locator beacon, calling for help. it was more than 24 hours before rescue operations could commence, and by that time the beacon was no longer transmitting and all attempts to hail the vessel were met with failure.

At the time, it was thought that the ship had five crew members aboard, but a day later two of the crew were found alive and well on the Antarctic continent itself. They included the ship’s skipper Jarle Andhoey, who was attempting to make a journey by ATV to the South Pole. Andhoey provided SAR teams with information on the the possible course that the ship was on when it went missing.

Further clues about the ship’s fate came a day later when a liferaft was discovered adrift in the sea. It was damaged and missing its first aid kit, but it was clearly from the Berserk. It could not be determined if the raft was set afloat on accident or if someone had used it to escape the ship.

The search continued throughout the weekend, but today New Zealand officials called off the operation, dismissing all ships committed to the mission. It seems that after a week, they are resigned to the fact that the Berserk is gone, and the three crew members on board went with her.

The story doesn’t end there however, as Andhoey is now due back in New Zealand, where he’ll have to provide answers about what the ship was doing in the Southern Ocean and what safety precautions had been taken. There are some indications that the crew ignored some important safety rules and that that may have contributed to ships demise.

Missing Antarctic yacht update: two crew members found

Two crew members from the yacht that went missing in the antarctic have been found.Yesterday we posted a story about a Norwegian yacht that went missing in the Antarctic with five crew members aboard. Two of those crew members have now been located, alive and well, on the continent itself, and they are reportedly providing clues that could help search and rescue teams find the missing ship.

When the story first broke, we knew that the yacht, christened the Berserk, was last known to be sailing in the Southern Ocean approximately 18 nautical miles off the coast of Antarctica. The crew had planned to make a brief visit to the continent to drop off two people, who were hoping to make the journey to the South Pole on ATV’s. Apparently that drop off did occur, as Jarle Andhoey, the skipper of the yacht, and an 18-year old crew member, contacted search teams via satellite phone yesterday and have been providing crucial information about the missing ship’s planned route. That information could be instrumental in discovering where the yacht is at this time.

Two days ago the Berserk activated its emergency locator beacon indicating that it was in trouble. At the time, storms were raging across the Southern Ocean, bringing high winds and very rough seas to the region. Those storms prevented rescue operations from commencing for nearly another day, and by the time search and rescue teams were able to enter the area, the emergency beacon was no longer transmitting. All attempts to contact the vessel have been fruitless as well. Three crew members, including two Norwegians and a British national, are believed to have been aboard the Berserk when it went missing.

Search teams are continuing to comb the area today, holding out hope for a miracle. It is possible that the yacht is now adrift without power on the Southern Ocean, simply waiting to be found. But with each passing hour, the chances of finding the boat and her crew grow a bit smaller.

[Photo credit: Berserk Expeditions]