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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest Forums > General Discussion (sailing related)
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  #11  
Old 02-27-2009
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sailaway21 is just really nice sailaway21 is just really nice sailaway21 is just really nice sailaway21 is just really nice
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.
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  #12  
Old 02-27-2009
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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
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  #13  
Old 02-27-2009
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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.
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Old 02-28-2009
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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.
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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!
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