Communicating with BIG SHIPS - Page 2 - SailNet Community
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #11 of 15 Old 02-27-2009
Owner, Green Bay Packers
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: SW Michigan
Posts: 10,318
Thanks: 0
Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post
Rep Power: 14
16 is monitored at all times. 13 only in inland waters. You'll usually get an answer, I always did, unless it's an extraneous BS call in confined waters. an example of the latter might be calling up a container ship half the way up the Chesapeake and asking where he's bound for. If you're offshore, and a ship is getting that little bit too close, making you wonder if he see's you, it's a real good idea to call on 16; you just might alert him to your unseen presence.

It helps to know one ship from another. If you are mistakenly hailing a "tanker" that is really a bulk carrier, you increase the chances that he'll not answer as he thinks you're not calling him. btw, bulk carriers have hatches, like Great Lakes ore boats, tankers do not. Most naval vessels will answer to "US warship" if they're listening to 16 which is a dubious prospect.

The biggest problems occur in the most congested water-ways. If there's a vessel traffic system, it's monitoring frequency is sure to be monitored or you can call vessel traffic control to ask who the big mother is off Middle Harbor Terminal.

One thing that would help greatly in getting more VHF responses would be avoiding meaningless radio checks and generally staying off Ch. 16 as much as possible. If you're a member of a yacht club or just a marina tenant trying to get a hold of another boat, it can be done much more effectively if you monitor a club or marina frequency and use it for hailing and not 16. Most radios will monitor 16 and an additional one or more channels. Coincidentally, when a shipping company has a number of it's ships operating in one area, they do just that. You might well find them calling each other up on ch 70 or 68, dispensing with 16 for hailing. All the chit-chat and 'where are ya's' on 16 lead to it getting turned down to concentrate on the matters at hand.

“Scientists are people who build the Brooklyn Bridge and then buy it.”
Wm. F. Buckley, Jr.
sailaway21 is offline  
Quote Quick Reply Share with Facebook
Sponsored Links
post #12 of 15 Old 02-27-2009 Thread Starter
Senior Member
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 5,006
Thanks: 5
Thanked 20 Times in 20 Posts
Rep Power: 14
Thank you for all of the informative responses. I hadn't even heard of DSC, so that tells you how little I know about it. I guess I am going to be investing in more equipment.

For anyone else seeking information, I found this useful GMDSS

What are you pretending not to know ?

Please support my
To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 10 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
wind_magic is offline  
Quote Quick Reply Share with Facebook
post #13 of 15 Old 02-27-2009
Senior Member
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: New Orleans
Posts: 2,169
Thanks: 10
Thanked 49 Times in 46 Posts
Rep Power: 12
Sailaway has it right.

First, before getting underway, find out what the local bridge-to-bridge (ship-to-ship) radio channel is, and monitor it. Any ships in the area will monitor that channel, plus 16. If there's a pilot on board, there may be a third channel monitored on pilot's handheld radio. Find out what it is, write it down and remember it. Any one of those three channels will get an answer (assuming they realize it's them who's being called).

Second, know where you are, and be prepared to say it. "Inbound ship a half mile east of the seabuoy" will get a response, while "ship off my starboard bow" might not. If you have AIS, and know and say the ship's name, then you'll definitely get an answer, unless they all breathed ether and passed out.

At night, be prepared to shine a light, first on your sails, then towards the other ship (briefly please, don't kill their night vision), and tell then you're the sailboat that just shined a light their way.

These navigators want the info, they're not trying to ignore or scare you. Give them a fair chance to realize they're the ones being called, and I guarantee you'll get a response, and a helpful one.

And be prepared to switch off channel 16 onto an agreed alternate channel once you've made contact.
nolatom is offline  
Quote Quick Reply Share with Facebook
post #14 of 15 Old 02-28-2009
Senior Member
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 100
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 9
don't know that much about contacting the big ships as I am an inland sailer, but the information if helpful to know. I will agree that you need to keep 16 chat down to a minimum. Just hail and switch channels. The coast guard around here is not hesitant to tell you to change frequencies if you don't.
freddyray is offline  
Quote Quick Reply Share with Facebook
post #15 of 15 Old 02-28-2009
Owner, Green Bay Packers
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: SW Michigan
Posts: 10,318
Thanks: 0
Thanked 1 Time in 1 Post
Rep Power: 14
A technique that helps to minimize the traffic on 16 is to use the shift and answer approach. You can use this all the time but it is most effective when you know the vessel you're hailing is listening and probably expecting a call from you. Instead of just calling them on ch. 16, them answering, and then discussing what channel to use, you do it all in one call. For example: "Emily Marie, Emily Marie. This is the Hong Kong Mail, the Hong Kong Mail. Shift and answer on Channel 68, channel 68. Out." If there is a problem or the Emily Marie doesn't have Ch. 68 on her radio, they'll come back on 16 but otherwise they'll come up on 68. And you've gotten off the air on ch 16 asap.

Some take the use of alternate working channels to the extreme. If you're on the Grand Banks and trying to get a hold of a fisherman there, you may call on 16 to no avail but, he'll be monitoring Ch 70 which is what all the fishermen use for their back and forth communication. Local knowledge is always nice!

“Scientists are people who build the Brooklyn Bridge and then buy it.”
Wm. F. Buckley, Jr.
sailaway21 is offline  
Quote Quick Reply Share with Facebook

Quick Reply

By choosing to post the reply above you agree to the rules you agreed to when joining Sailnet.
Click Here to view those rules.

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the SailNet Community forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
Please note: After entering 3 characters a list of Usernames already in use will appear and the list will disappear once a valid Username is entered.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
International Waters.... sailordave General Discussion (sailing related) 23 10-16-2008 01:23 AM
we were boarded sailortjk1 General Discussion (sailing related) 27 08-12-2007 12:55 PM
Cheap AIS camaraderie Gear & Maintenance 10 07-22-2007 08:48 PM
How big is too big to start out? Jef212 Learning to Sail 22 03-19-2002 12:38 PM
Medically Prepared for the Big Voyage William Mahaffy Seamanship Articles 0 05-23-1999 08:00 PM

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome