Monday, 16 November 2009

The rocket's red glare

A horrifying story in the Mail that will now doubtless lead to a knee-jerk reaction from the MCA and the government but which may actually be the fault of the MCA in the first place.

The red distress rocket commonly sold reaches a height of about 350m before ejecting a bright flare that descends slowly on a parachute for about 40 seconds. It's saved countless lives at sea, and forms part of the standard kit of coastal sailors on about a quarter of a million vessels.

The problem is, they have a 'use by' date beyond which the manufacturers won't guarantee their performance. So every five or six years, many of us buy a new set. And they're not cheap - a red rocket is about £20. Disposing of the old ones is the greatest headache; as it's illegal to fire them on land, you'd be ill-advised trying to work them into a bonfire-night firework display. You can't dump them in the wheely-bin. In the old days, both the RNLI and the Coastguard would accept them, and the army and navy bomb disposal folk would regularly collect them from marina offices. No more. Guidance from the HSE prohibits the transport of 'time expired' flares in anything but specialist armoured military vehicles. Now only the Coastguard will accept small quantities, handed in by appointment at Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre. The consequence is that thousands are being improperly disposed of.

Now we're paying road fuel duty on our boat diesel, you might imagine a flare disposal service in return wouldn't be too much to ask. But don't hold your breath.

8 comments:

View from the Solent said...

Hmm, I think I see a problem here.
If time-expired flares can only be transported in specialist armoured military vehicles, how does one get them to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre?

View from the Solent said...

Hmm, I think I see a problem here.
If time-expired flares can only be transported in specialist armoured military vehicles, how does one get them to the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre?

talwin said...

Don't suppose the irony of transporting and firing off useless, played out and dangerous objects at No. 10 Downing Street would be appreciated by the useless, played out and dangerous objects inside said No. 10 (not by the occupants, anyway)

Anonymous said...

Here's a tip.

Take them to you nearest Fire Station.

Don't mention that you're a yachtsman.

Instead say "I found these in the street, what are they?" - or something equally dumb.

They are legally obliged to take them off you and dispose of them safely.

Not a lot of people know this.

I wouldn't try it too often, but they're unlikely to remember you if you only go in every five years...

delcatto said...

Our local drug dealers use them to let all their customers know they are open for business.

Anonymous said...

Road fuel duty on a boat? They are really money grubbing swines aren't they ?

Kind of irks to watch the tax free planes droning overhead from Southampton Airport - oh, that's right - free upgrades for MPs eh? HMRC understandably I suppose - seem to like beating up on people who can't fight back... bullies? no, not at all......

Brian, follower of Deornoth said...

You can always dump them in the wheelie-bin, but you would probably be well advised to make sure it's somebody else's wheelie-bin.

Brian E. said...

I can foresee a lot being "accidentally" lost overboard in a strong gale!