Safety on The Water: What is MAYDAY and Pan-Pan?

Safety on The Water: What is MAYDAY and Pan-Pan?

Jun 29, 2022

Places to Explore on Catamaran in Nicaragua

We adore our vast open sea that surrounds San Juan del Sur. The miles and miles of expansive blue ocean are both peaceful and powerful. As beautiful as the Pacific Ocean is to look at though, it would be foolish to think there’s no risks while at sea.

If you’re a bit concerned about booking any Esmeralda sailing trips because of the inherent risks of sailing, let us put these fears to rest! Your time on the Esmeralda catamaran will be incredibly safe. We’ll go over a few ways we ensure so in this article.

Table of Contents

  • What is MAYDAY?
  • What is Pan-Pan?
  • What Does Pan-Pan Mean?
  • Understanding The Difference
  • Staying Safe on The Water

What is MAYDAY?

MAYDAY is an emergency procedure word used internationally as a distress signal. MAYDAY calls are used for life-threatening emergencies. The term is French, from “venez m’aider” which means “come help me.”

In order to issue a MAYDAY call, the caller must repeat it three times. This is done for two reasons. For one, it needs to be repeated in order to prevent it being mistaken for some similar-sounding phrase under noisy conditions. As well, the caller also needs to repeat it in order to distinguish an actual MAYDAY call from a message about someone else’s MAYDAY call.

What is Pan-Pan?

Pan-Pan is another call signal. It is the international standard urgency signal that someone aboard a boat uses to declare that they have a situation that is urgent but does not pose an immediate danger to anyone’s life or to the vessel itself, for the time being at least.

To declare pan-pan correctly, the caller repeats it three times: “Pan-pan, pan-pan, pan-pan,” and then states the intended recipient three times. Then, the caller states their boat’s identification, position, nature of the problem, and the type of assistance or advice they require, if any. A few example of when Pan-Pan is used are:

  • The boat is out of fuel
  • The boat is lost in fog
  • Someone fell overboard, but has already been recovered
  • There was a small fire on board that is now extinguished
  • The captain is unsure of the boat’s position

What Does Pan-Pan Mean?

Some people say that Pan-Pan is an acronym for “possible assistance needed” or “pay attention now.” These are pretty good guesses, but neither is true. In fact, it isn’t an acronym at all. Pan-Pan is also French. In French, a panne (pronounced “pan”) is a breakdown, such as a mechanical failure. 

Understanding The Difference

Pan-Pan is distinct from a MAYDAY distress signal, because MAYDAY means that there is imminent danger to life or to the continued viability of the boat. A Pan-Pan is serious and urgent, but not immediately life threatening. If someone feels their or another person’s life is in jeopardy, they call MAYDAY. If a boat needs immediate assistance to deal with a serious situation that is not life threatening, they call Pan-Pan.

Staying Safe on The Water

Your safety is our top priority, and we show it! For one, life jackets and other safety equipment are included in your package and always on board. It’s also important to note that while the crew of the catamaran knows emergency procedures, like calling MAYDAY, it’s unlikely we’ll ever need it. That is because a catamaran is a much safer, smoother way of traveling on the water when compared to other boats.

A catamaran is a double hull boat. You can compare this to a sailboat, which is a monohull. Having two hulls keeps our boat steady, going smoothly over even the biggest, roughest waters. You won’t be rocking around, feeling the impact of each rolling wave.

If you have any questions about our safety measures or would like to book your day on our catamaran, do not hesitate to contact us! We can be reached directly through our website, email, or WhatsApp.

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