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Old 14-11-2015, 04:39   #1
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Foghorns to be on-demand, VHF-activated

This has been in the works for a few years now, but I haven't seen much about here on CF.

Coast Guard rethinks launch of new foghorn system in Maine after complaints — State — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine

It's an interesting development. The U.S. Coast Guard says their old fog sensor system is becoming antiquated and the manufacturer no longer supports it, so they're going to foghorns on-demand. (Key your mike on the right VHF channel 5 times in 10 seconds and the horn starts to sound.) But it seems in this modern age, the CG could easily commission a whiz-bang new and better fog sensor.

On the other hand, most cruisers and commercial fishermen have a chartplotter on board, or at least a phone with GPS, and possibly radar -- so navigating in the fog is no longer the nerve-wracking experience it was in the olden days. But for the low-tech, no-tech boater, for the daysailer or kayaker or recreational fisherman unexpectedly fogged in, this could cause trouble. Handheld VHFs aren't expensive, but it's guaranteed that some people just won't have them when they need them.

One situation I imagine is a kid a little too far out on an SUP getting fogged in. But it occurs to me that if one person needs the fog signal, it's quite likely a dozen others do, too, and someone in the area will key the mike. Maybe that's what the CG is counting on.

Also I've seen different VHF activation channels mentioned for different locations -- 79, 81, 83. For local boaters using only one harbor repeatedly that's not a problem. But for the long-distance cruiser, it's one more thing you need to keep track of as you move around. I haven't found a master list of activation channels anywhere.

Anyway, just thought I'd bring it up and see what people think.

-----

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — U.S. Coast Guard officials may launch a statewide outreach effort after the installation of a new foghorn trigger system at Goat Island Light off Cape Porpoise caused a tempest of complaints.
Goat Island Light is one of seven Maine lighthouses at which a radio-controlled foghorn system has been installed, and the Coast Guard plans to ultimately use the technology at 17 other lighthouse locations in the state where foghorns sound.
But after a barrage of complaints from the Kennebunkport area about the system, Matthew Stuck, head of waterways management for the Coast Guard’s northeastern district, said the service may slow the rollout of the foghorn triggers to allow for more public education.
“We may rethink the whole process and roll them out together after a period of transition and outreach,” he said during a meeting with reporters on Tuesday afternoon at the Coast Guard facility in South Portland.
The new Marine Radio Activated Sound Signal system allows mariners to turn the foghorn on by keying the microphone of their VHF radio, set to marine band 83 alpha, five times in a 10-second span. It replaces the VM-100 system, which was developed and rolled out between the 1960s and 1990s but is no longer supported by its original manufacturer.
The VM-100 detects precipitation levels and automatically sounds the foghorn when it senses moisture consistent with fog or other weather that might limit coastal visibility.
“If we had the capacity to support the VM-100s in perpetuity, we would do that,” Stuck said.
But the decades-old system is starting to break down with greater regularity, he said, and as the manufacturer is no longer producing the units or parts to fix them, the Coast Guard must begin to make the transition away from it. Stuck said the Goat Island Light VM-100 needed to be fixed six times since 2008, with three of those instances involving complete replacements of the unit.
“The senior chief and his team have been nursing it along for years now,” he said.
The change to the new radio-controlled system two weeks ago off Cape Porpoise, however, took lighthouse and Kennebunkport officials by surprise.
The Coast Guard faced complaints that the new system would be unusable by mariners who don’t have VHF radios, placing those seafarers in greater danger, or that the foghorn could be set off when it’s not necessary, potentially surprising and damaging the hearing of tourists at the lighthouse.
On Tuesday, South Portland Coast Guard officials met with Kennebunkport Town Manager Laurie Smith, Allen Daggett of the town’s Board of Selectmen and lighthouse keeper Scott Dombrowski, as well as representatives of the Kennebunkport Conservation Trust, which leases the lighthouse, and the Cape Porpoise Pier Advisory Committee.
Representatives from the offices of 1st District U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree and U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King were also in attendance at the Tuesday meeting, Chief Warrant Officer Robert Albert of the Coast Guard said on Tuesday.
As a result of the talk, Coast Guard Lt. Scott McCann said, the service will put the old VM-100 system back in place at Goat Island Light as soon as the parts are available. He said the Coast Guard will leave the VM-100 in place there for a year before reinstalling the newer system, and will engage in a community outreach and education effort there in the meantime.
Stuck said the Coast Guard may launch similar efforts elsewhere around the state, but he reiterated that the change to the radio-controlled system is coming whether the change is popular or not.
“The Coast Guard doesn’t have an alternative,” he said.
Albert said tourists visiting lighthouses with foghorns should consider bringing ear protection, while mariners at sea are safest if they have access to a VHF radio.
Earlier this year, the new triggering system helped resolve an impasse between the Coast Guard and an independent film director who wanted to shoot scenes near Moose Peak Light in Jonesport. The new system allows the filmmaker to do her work with minimal chance that a foghorn sounding would force her to reshoot scenes.
In addition to Moose Peak Light, the radio-activated system already has been installed at Whaleback Light between Kittery and Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Cuckolds Lighthouse in Boothbay Harbor, Wood Island Lighthouse in Biddeford, Pond Island Light in Phippsburg, and Nubble Light in York.
Stuck said the Rockland Harbor breakwater lighthouse, Dog Island Lighthouse, Ram Island Ledge Light off Boothbay Harbor and Owls Head Light are the next locations on the list to receive the new system. But Stuck said there is no firm timetable for when those transitions will take place.
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Old 14-11-2015, 05:18   #2
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Re: Foghorns to be on-demand, VHF-activated

Honestly one of the dumbest moves I have seen by the USCG in a long time.

The fog/moisture activated system has worked tremendously well and I have a very hard time believing that a new automated system, using moisture detection, can't be implemented in the year 2015.....

I mean lets see;

*The USCG does not require recreational boats or kayaks or paddle boards etc. to even have a VHF.

*If so fitted with a VHF you must be monitoring VHF 16. How long before someone fails to switch off the fog activation channel and misses a distress call they could have helped out with.

*I won't even go down the path of idiots who just like to "F" with people who will be keying the fog horns on in clear weather just "because they could".


I would suggest the folks in the USCG spend some time actually boating in the fog in Maine before making pen swipe decisions that make no logical sense...

I find it laughable when they talk about education.. I mean come on perhaps 90% of the boaters out there are NOT monitoring their VHF radios as they are legally required to do and perhaps a lesser but still high amount continue to conduct "radio checks" on VHF 16 despite lots of education on not to do that... Heck Sea Tow has been advertising the FREE automated radio checks now for at least 5 years up here, and I can count on one hand the number of folks I run into that actually know it exists.

Almost every single day on the water up here I hear piles of "radio check on 16" calls yet the USCG believes "education" will solve the fog horn issue where it has 150% failed to do so on an emergency & hailing channel required by Federal law............

Count me as one of the Mainer's who think this is just plain flawed...

Quote:
"Stuck said the Coast Guard may launch similar efforts elsewhere around the state, but he reiterated that the change to the radio-controlled system is coming whether the change is popular or not."
Screw the constituents we know better.......


Quote:
Earlier this year, the new triggering system helped resolve an impasse between the Coast Guard and an independent film director who wanted to shoot scenes near Moose Peak Light in Jonesport. The new system allows the filmmaker to do her work with minimal chance that a foghorn sounding would force her to reshoot scenes.
Always good to know the Hollywood lobby is well represented, IN MAINE..?????? Glad to know the "Hollywood elitist filmmaker" is not "impacted" but the boaters in and around Jonesport are....??? WTF..... Go back to California and "F" that state up PLEASE.... Perhaps it should be "The Hollywood Coast Guard" but last time I checked it was still The United States Coast Guard..

Clearly I need some coffee.. Rant off...


.
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Old 14-11-2015, 05:55   #3
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Re: Foghorns to be on-demand, VHF-activated

Next up:
-- Key your mike to get a flash from the lighthouse.
-- Key your mike to activate red and green navigation lights. No sense having them on all night. . .
-- Key your mike to activate bell buoy.
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Old 14-11-2015, 06:03   #4
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Re: Foghorns to be on-demand, VHF-activated

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
Honestly one of the dumbest moves I have seen by the USCG in a long time..,..... .. ,..........Clearly I need some coffee.. Rant off....
Whatever your drinking.... I couldn't agree with you any more... :thumbup:
Dumb Move
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Old 14-11-2015, 06:11   #5
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Re: Foghorns to be on-demand, VHF-activated

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cormorant View Post
Next up:
-- Key your mike to get a flash from the lighthouse.
-- Key your mike to activate red and green navigation lights. No sense having them on all night. . .
-- Key your mike to activate bell buoy.
Don't worry with the dumbing-down we are seeing in our Government this stuff is probably not as far off as we might joke about..
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Old 14-11-2015, 06:13   #6
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Re: Foghorns to be on-demand, VHF-activated

I'll make the new normal ones and sell them to the Coast Guard.

Where is the RFP?

Anyone know?
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Old 14-11-2015, 06:18   #7
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Re: Foghorns to be on-demand, VHF-activated

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Originally Posted by 2hullvenus View Post
I'll make the new normal ones and sell them to the Coast Guard.

Where is the RFP?

Anyone know?

Seems like a good business opportunity. $100.00 worth of parts per lighthouse, moisture sensor, visibility cameras, relays, some wire and a 12 year old to program it, mark those up to the price of a Mil-Spec Hammer and bingo we have an automated moisture detection system for only 85K per light house....

Oh and as an option we can add solar to it so they are 100% self sufficient. Such a deal too, only 125K...

Oh and let us not forget that we use far more complex fog detection systems on our highways in numerous areas throughout the country. Apparently the USCG and DOT "right hand / left hand" don't know each other exist....?? D'oh.....

Seems the technology already easily exists...

http://www.opticalsensors.se/ofs.html
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Old 14-11-2015, 06:42   #8
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Re: Foghorns to be on-demand, VHF-activated

Actually, not even kidding.

I've supplied government agencies before. I know the process and things I've built and programmed are still in space sending data back.

If someone could point out this RFP, I'll make these and save my home cruising grounds from disaster.
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Old 14-11-2015, 06:55   #9
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Re: Foghorns to be on-demand, VHF-activated

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Originally Posted by 2hullvenus View Post
Actually, not even kidding.

I've supplied government agencies before. I know the process and things I've built and programmed are still in space sending data back.

If someone could point out this RFP, I'll make these and save my home cruising grounds from disaster.
This US company already makes them... Perhaps you could do it for less.

Envirotech Sensors, Inc.

"Installing the Sentry™ as part of coastal weather monitoring systems for waterways and offshore foghorn control."


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Old 14-11-2015, 07:01   #10
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Re: Foghorns to be on-demand, VHF-activated

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
*I won't even go down the path of idiots who just like to "F" with people who will be keying the fog horns on in clear weather just "because they could".



Almost every single day on the water up here I hear piles of "radio check on 16" calls
We use to have a mooring right next to a small local airport (no traffic control) where the runway lights were triggered by keying on a VHF frequency. People were always showing their friends how they could control the lights. On party weekends at night, those lights were rarely left shut down.


It's not just Maine. We recently passed through part of FL, where 16 was in constant use in the following manner:

"Radio check"

"This is the USCG, please be aware that channel 16 is for emergency and contact use only. Radio checks should never be performed on 16. Please take that traffic to another channel. USCG out."

"Radio check"

"This is the USCG, please be aware that channel 16 is for emergency and contact use only. Radio checks should never be performed on 16. Please take that traffic to another channel. USCG out."

… ad infinitum


No kidding - this was CONSTANT, and there was no way anyone with a real emergency could ever get through. It wasn't until we hit Eluthera that we stopped receiving the USCG responses about proper use of 16.

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Old 14-11-2015, 08:02   #11
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Re: Foghorns to be on-demand, VHF-activated

In the UK foghorns have ceased to operate for a some time, the last one to be de-activated was at the Souter Lighthouse in the North East, near to South Shields.
The increase in GPS use and AIS has made the fog horn redundant, or so some say.

A requiem for long-silent foghorns? This is going to be such a blast - Telegraph
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Old 14-11-2015, 08:08   #12
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Re: Foghorns to be on-demand, VHF-activated

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Originally Posted by Maine Sail View Post
This US company already makes them... Perhaps you could do it for less.

Envirotech Sensors, Inc.

"Installing the Sentry™ as part of coastal weather monitoring systems for waterways and offshore foghorn control."


.
That's just a sensor.

They want to buy a new packaged product.

Damn... i guess maybe I'll have a Google for the RFP.
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Old 14-11-2015, 08:11   #13
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Re: Foghorns to be on-demand, VHF-activated

Even worse passing through Florida, i found, "Hey Joe! Want to come fishing at xxx?"

USCG Sector Miami guy was audibly livid. Said all is being recorded, triangulated. and basically screamed USCG sector Miami out!



Quote:
Originally Posted by colemj View Post
We use to have a mooring right next to a small local airport (no traffic control) where the runway lights were triggered by keying on a VHF frequency. People were always showing their friends how they could control the lights. On party weekends at night, those lights were rarely left shut down.


It's not just Maine. We recently passed through part of FL, where 16 was in constant use in the following manner:

"Radio check"

"This is the USCG, please be aware that channel 16 is for emergency and contact use only. Radio checks should never be performed on 16. Please take that traffic to another channel. USCG out."

"Radio check"

"This is the USCG, please be aware that channel 16 is for emergency and contact use only. Radio checks should never be performed on 16. Please take that traffic to another channel. USCG out."

… ad infinitum


No kidding - this was CONSTANT, and there was no way anyone with a real emergency could ever get through. It wasn't until we hit Eluthera that we stopped receiving the USCG responses about proper use of 16.

Mark
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Old 14-11-2015, 08:41   #14
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Re: Foghorns to be on-demand, VHF-activated

People out in kayaks or the ever more popular SUPs almost never have VHF radios. If they get stuck out in a fog, would be nice if the fog signals were still sounding to help keep them off of the rocks.
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Old 14-11-2015, 09:30   #15
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Re: Foghorns to be on-demand, VHF-activated

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2hullvenus View Post
Actually, not even kidding.

I've supplied government agencies before. I know the process and things I've built and programmed are still in space sending data back.

If someone could point out this RFP, I'll make these and save my home cruising grounds from disaster.
All open US Gov. RFPs were always listed in the Commerce Business Daily which was replaced by the online database FedBizOpps around 2002.

Best wishes with your new venture!

Bill
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