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post #3 of Old 08-16-2002
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radio communications

While I don''t want to have an argument with Welch, and, in fact, partially agree with him, there is a big difference between ham radio (amateur radio) and Marine HF radio. I too am a ham, and a sailor, and have been a ham for over 40 years (callsign K8OUA)with an Extra Class license for many years now. I don''t disagree that a ham radio set onboard can be of great use and a lot of fun, but its intent is not the same as that of Marine Band HF radio. HF radio will allow you to make contact with others well out of line of sight that VHF radio is limited to. Marine Band HF radio has been set up to allow boaters well out to sea to make contact with others, particularly to receive weather and other useful reports, and to let aid and assistance groups such as the US Coast Guard know where you are as you sink into the sea. Ham radio is very different, and though you can make contact with stations all around the world, many things go on on the ham radio bands that are detrimental to a sailor in trouble -- e.g., there are radio contests on virtually every weekend, and there are rare and distant stations that other hams try to contact. If you''re in trouble and try to call ''Mayday'' during one of these contests, the chances are that you won''t even be heard above the din of very strong stations intent on making contacts with others for contest purposes. I believe that a ham set on board is great, but only if it is accompanied by a Marine Band HF radio too. Try this website -- and it will give you more info on Marine Band HF radio. Also, do a Yahoo search under Marine Band Radio and that will lead you to a lot of additional info. Good luck to you, and whatever you do, you''ll find a ton of fun with a ham radio license, so follow Welch''s advice and go to and check out ham radio communications too. But, make sure that you have the main emergency communications source onboard, the HF Marine Band radio if you are going offshore for your sailing.
Fair winds and 73,
Peter K., K8OUA
S/V Waltzing Matilda
Cape Dory 26, Hull #42
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