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Old 02-27-2009
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Communicating with BIG SHIPS

Really a question for the people here who have experience on the big ships. How does a little sailboat actually talk to someone on a big ship on the radio to avoid getting crushed ? I have heard all kinds of information saying that large ships in the ocean don't monitor radios, or that they only monitor this frequency or that frequency or, well, lots of things, and I want to know what the real deal is here. So if you have actually been on a big ship, what frequencies did you really monitor ? If you were giving advice to someone on a small boat, how would you advise them to communicate to you ?

Thank you.
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Old 02-27-2009
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Digital Selective Calling (DSC) is rapidly becoming a reality as more Coast Guard Rescue 21 System operations go live. Currently, the mid Atlantic coast is operational with DSC. The Gulf region will be operational early next year and all Cutters will be DSC equipped by next year.
With DSC you can "call" big ships.
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Old 02-27-2009
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If you have AIS and a DSC VHF once you specify the ship's callsign I understand this will set off an alarm on their radio. This should improve the chances of getting their attention.

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Old 02-27-2009
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Use channel 13 preferred as it is the ship to ship channel or use channel 16. Hail them as you would any other contact. They will response and they are not put out to talk to you. It is reassuring to hear from them "we see you on our radar."
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Old 02-27-2009
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Without the MMSI of the ship in question, the DSC does nothing for you. AIS does help, in that it provides the MMSI of ships in the area. The callsign and MMSI of a ship are two different things. What you need for DSC to work is the MMSI.
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Old 02-27-2009
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Here on Chesapeake Bay, I've found the professionals in the tugs and on the big ships to be very polite and helpful. In return, I do my best to not sound like an idiot (it's hard sometimes).

On my friend's trawler one night coming through Hampton Roads, a tug hailed us and said "Cap, you probably don't see me coming at you, so I'm going to wave my spotlight for you. I'm off to your starboard a mile or two." That was nice of him. And he was right, we hadn't seen him. On that same trip, we hailed another tug and identified ourselves and he said "oh, you're that little white boat over there, right?" We were on a 50-foot trawler and didn't considered ourselves that little, so it was funny.
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Old 02-27-2009
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I agree with bubb2 regarding the standard inquiry on VHF 13. I also find a welcomed response from large ship personel when making a security call in problematic locations like the intersection of the ICW with the Savannah River. Ch 16, "Securitee, securitee, securitee....small vessel (sailboat, trawler, your vessel name, etc.) approaching the Savannah River northbound on the ICW with concerns about any large traffic during the next twenty minutes. (your vessel name)..standing by 13..16" Of course, without question, if I get a response I defer to thier passage. 'take care and joy, Aythya crew
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Old 02-27-2009
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Offshore use channel 16 on the VHF. The Distress & Calling Channel.
Channel 13 is bridge to bridge on the inland waters of the USA only.
You can also use 2182 on the SSB.
After GMDSS is fully implimented then there will be a frequency shift and some of you will be needing new VHFs & SSBs. Though some of the older SSBs can be brought up to par by a software/chip change.
The AIS is becoming required for all commercial vessels over 300 tons. But you will find that many of the smaller commercial vessels in some areas are require to have it also.
So for a good safety reason is to acquire AIS for your own vessel. Which will add to your power bugeting... the AIS will broadcast your position, course & speed to all vessels with AIS. And hopefully that the idiot on watch hasn't turned his off because he is in the middle of one of the big ponds.
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Old 02-27-2009
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Good question. Hailing the "South Bound Freighter approximatley 15 miles off of Milwaukee" ususally gets very little results. Thats why I have been interested in Ais for a while myself. If you know the ships name your callng, The results would be greatly improved.
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Old 02-27-2009
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I can say around here while it might be good to have radio contact most of the shiping in LIS cant really do a whole lot of course changeing when there draging those barges full of stone and such


And the ferrry guys pretty much everwere around here dont have a whole lot of love for sailboats
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