SailNet Community banner
1 - 15 of 15 Posts

·
Banned
Joined
·
5,006 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,503 Posts
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
547 Posts
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.

Ilenart
 

·
Telstar 28
Joined
·
993 Posts
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.
 

·
Apropos of Nothing
Joined
·
1,736 Posts
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. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,720 Posts
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
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,070 Posts
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,647 Posts
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,304 Posts
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
 

·
Owner, Green Bay Packers
Joined
·
1,000 Posts
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.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
5,006 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
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
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,261 Posts
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
100 Posts
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.
 

·
Owner, Green Bay Packers
Joined
·
1,000 Posts
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!
 
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
Top