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  #1  
Old 06-27-2011
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Radio check

I was anchored off the Quonset airshow on Saturday, which should be it's own thread it was so great. The performers, including the Blue Angels, regroup for each pass directly overhead.

I was monitoring 16 and in the span of a couple of hours, must have heard two dozen radio checks. Of course, one was from the obligatory 6 yr old who has been hearing all the adults do so. That was the only one that the Coast Guard replied to in a very intimidating voice to get the kid off the radio.

What is it with all the radio checks? And on the wrong channel to boot. Good thing this is America, because the Lybian Coast Guard would have opened fire on the crowd for sure.

Oh I forgot the best one. There must have been a fire boat on station to which someone hails on 16....... "dahhhhh... eh deh fireboat. Da ya tink ya could open up so we could get some pictures....."
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Old 06-27-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
I was monitoring 16 and in the span of a couple of hours, must have heard two dozen radio checks. Of course, one was from the obligatory 6 yr old who has been hearing all the adults do so. That was the only one that the Coast Guard replied to in a very intimidating voice to get the kid off the radio.

What is it with all the radio checks? "
People don't know better, or just don't care. When you call on Channel 16 you're supposed to be calling another boat (or CG or marina or restaurant), not sending a message over the radio waves for anyone listening. I teach the CG Aux sail course and it's the first thing I tell my students when we get to the radio section.

The Coast Guard figures that 10 percent of the boaters out there have never had a boating safety course. That's a dangerous amount of people who have no clue.

I once had a student, brand new to sailing, who purchased a 40-foot sailboat as his first boat. He didn't even know what a wake was. At least he thought to take the course.
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Old 06-27-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DRFerron View Post
The Coast Guard figures that 10 percent of the boaters out there have never had a boating safety course. That's a dangerous amount of people who have no clue.
I would suspect that is a low number and would but it more at 25% based on my experiences on the water.

My new boat has a RAM Mic at the helm and I had to turn it off three different times on Saturday alone because the radio checks, stupid calls (someone actually called over the radio to ask what the tide was doing) and morons that left the mics open so you would get lots of static. It is really annoying and I know I am supposed to be monitoring 16 but it just ruins the mood some days.
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Old 06-27-2011
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SeaTow has an automated radio check system in many parts of the country. See Sea Tow: Automated Radio Check Service or Google "seatow radio check". It's free, it's easy, and it works great.
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Old 06-27-2011
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What's the problem with an all-vessel call for a radio check on 16? It's what I was taught, and what I've done for as long as I can remember. In some locations, Seatow comes back with a freq for their automated response service. A quick google for "marine vhf radio check" returns a few sporadic admonitions such as yours, to not use 16 for the radio check, and no reasonable alternative suggested. One site suggests "calling a friend" for a check instead. (Bite me on that.) I find no CG or FCC regs or commentary to the contrary. As for X percent not knowing what they're doing, I'm pretty sure it's the schools who are teaching the radio check procedures, on 16. You can count on an early morning, very formal, tensely rehearsed call when the school boats are out overnight. It's hardly worth debating. You need positive confirmation the transmit function is working. You need to know transmit is working on 16 before you leave your slip. Scheduling a rendezvous on a different channel is pointless; the acknowledgement already completed the radio check.

Last edited by MikeWhy; 06-27-2011 at 01:45 PM.
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Old 06-27-2011
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We get the same thing up here so I thought this was a good thread to post some information for west coast Canadian waters.
West coast Canadian waters:
- 16 is for emergencies or other station contact only.
- Non emergency CG contact is done on 83a or 83 in the US mode.
- Radio Checks are done on 83a or 83 in the US mode (definately not on 16).
- Most if not all Canadian marina's/Harbour Authorities are NOT contacted on 16, most are on 66a but some are on 06, 72, 68, 73, 10 but the information for the entire Canadian west coast can be found in the "Boaters Blue Pages" published by Pacific Yachting.
- Lower west coast Canada - Winchelsea Control activity is broadcast regularly on WX, the CG does not seem to appreciate giving this info on 16
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Last edited by Bilgewater; 06-27-2011 at 02:11 PM.
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Old 06-27-2011
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Radio Checks

According to the Coast Guard:

Boaters should normally use channels listed as Non-Commercial. Channel 16 is used for calling other stations or for distress alerting.

And from the FCC:

DISTRESS SAFETY AND CALLING - Use this channel to get the attention of another station (calling) or in emergencies (distress and safety).

A radio check is not a "distress alert" and if you are just sending out an open ended request to no one in particular, you are not calling another station (boat).

I suppose that one could make the argument that throwing out a request for anyone listening rather than hailing a specific boat is "calling another station" but considering the number of times I have heard the CG has come on the radio requesting that people do not use Channel 16 for radio checks, I doubt they'd agree with you.

I hear so many people on channels 68 and 74 anyway that if I wanted to do a radio check, I'd send it out over one of those channels if I don't have a specific boat that I know is out there and within hailing distance.
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Old 06-27-2011
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Radio checks on ch 16 are very much fronded upon. In fact you can be fined by the FCC. Though the fines seldom happen.
Do your radio checks on other channels. And if you have two radios, you can do your own checks on board as long the checkes ARE NOT on ch 16.
One minor detail; The USCG are also the LEOs of the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) when it comes to Marine radio usage.
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Old 06-27-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeWhy View Post
What's the problem with an all-vessel call for a radio check on 16?
Other than the CG having a problem with it, it can get quite annoying when we are required to monitor 16 all the time and much of the chatter is boaters doing radio checks.
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Old 06-27-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boasun View Post
And if you have two radios, you can do your own checks on board as long the checkes ARE NOT on ch 16.
Not a good idea. A radio check to a radio on board is rather useless other than to confirm that a transmission took place. It does not verify that your masthead antenna is working properly which is really what you are testing when doing a radio check.

I will usually do my check when I am so many miles away from the land station I am calling.

And calling your friend is probably the best check you can do because you can transmit on 16. Simply hail your friends boat that is at a known location(preferably a few miles away, line of sight). This verifies the distance and that your MH antenna is working properly. It also verifies that 16 is working properly.

You do not have to say "radio check" for it to be one! You simply have to establish 2-way communication.
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Last edited by Tim R.; 06-27-2011 at 02:31 PM.
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