Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: New Orleans
Thanked 47 Times in 44 Posts
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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.