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Old 08-26-2008
CaptainRonandAshley2
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overcoming some VHF and GPS troubles

About 50 or more times a day a vessel calls the local Coast Guard station to ask questions, usually about the bar conditions. They are asked by the CG to switch and listen to channel 22a. Occasionally they are unable to hear the CG's response on channel 22a and the ensuing circus continues for several minutes while they go back and forth trying to establish comms. The recreational boater wants the CG to switch to channel 68, or 69, which they know work for them, but the CG doesnt have those frequencys. Really! They are allotted certain channels to use and thier radios are set up for only those frequencys.

The problem is not with the CG radios, it is with the boaters radio. On all current VHF transceivers there are 3 sets of frequencys that you can choose from. There is a set for USA, one for International, and another set for Canada. If you have your radio set for Canadian frequencys, you will not have channel 22a, only channel 22 (notice the missing a). This has you listening on a differnent frequency than the CG is broadcasting. Guess what, you wont hear the broadcast, but they, and all the rest of us, will hear you keep asking, "why wont anyone talk to me?" : ) Really, its not that we dont like you.

To fix this problem, find the button on your radio that is labeled U-I-C, sometimes is is a button that you have to press and hold, on some Standard Horizon raidos, you have to hold down the instant Ch16 button while you push the "WX" button to scroll through the three frequency sets.

Another frequent problem we see out here is mismatched coordinate systems.

There are several different ways to display a position on your GPS and rather than go into all the different versions, or why there are there, I will just give you the right one. You want your display to read in Degrees, Minutes, and decimals of minutes. The display will look like this.

N 46' 35.124
W 124' 48.321
which is read as

North four six "hack" or "degrees" three five decimal one two four, minutes, West one two four "degrees", four eight decimal three two one, minutes.

if your display looks like this
N 46.35124
W 124.48321
that is not the same position as above, as it is in degrees to 5 decimal places, not degrees minutes and decimals of minutes

Another way you may see is
N 46 35' 12.4"
W 124 49' 32.1"
which is in degrees, minutes and seconds, again a different position

Why is this important you may ask? If your GPS doesnt read the same units as the rest of us, you wont be able to find someone broadcasting a distress, or someone looking to help you may not be able to find your position.

Now turn that TV off and slip the lines matey.

Captain Ron
SeaTow Lower Columbia River
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