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Old 08-03-2014, 12:27   #61
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Re: Ham Radio vs Marine SSB

John left out one important benefit of ham radio for the active cruiser.

Lots of cruisers retire from the lifestyle, move ashore, buy high powered radios and huge antennas, and work the maritime ham nets. Those of us offshore benefit greatly from those folks who understand our needs and can hear and be heard better than we.

Bill, WA6CCA on the Waterway Net is a good example. I can hear him in Arlington when boats in the anchorage in Annapolis don't get through. KM4MA, ND7K, KA4WJA and many others similarly boom through. Other than Shipcom you just don't get those kind of signals on the marine bands.
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Old 08-03-2014, 16:08   #62
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Re: Ham Radio vs Marine SSB

Quote:
Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
Better to spend more on other gear that is more essential than electronics which, with limited exceptions, are useful mainly to get rescued and not helpful at all in keeping the boat and crew safe in the first place.
You described the core of the problem I have a problem with: spending money to get rescued is better spent elsewhere. This attitude is prevalent in cash-strapped cruisers and absolutely wrong IMHO.
At the end of the day you're risking your own life, so your choice.
I completely agree with the notion of active safety, so some solutions for that:
If you have a laptop you can get AIS on it for 20 dollars. For 50 dollar extra you get shortwave reception including weather charts, satellite imagery, listening to local nets etc.
AIS transponder for few hundred dollars will prevent large ships hitting you, or if they do, you'll have a leg to stand on in court (if any remains ) cause you will show up on the voyage data recorder.
A few hundred dollars buys you a portable HF/VHF/UHF transceiver, so if SHTS you can rip that out and still talk to the coastguard from the liferaft.


For approx 700 USD you can get a ham gear based package covering HF, VHF and UHF transmit, plus AIS reception.
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Old 08-03-2014, 16:48   #63
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Re: Ham Radio vs Marine SSB

And, while most commercial vessels at sea will monitor VHF Ch. 13 Voice (for Bridge-to-Bridge comms), they are unlikely to have the volume turned up on Ch. 16, or not be monitoring Ch. 16 at all!!!
BUT...
But, they ARE required to monitor VHF-DSC, as well as MF/HF-DSC, continuously!!!!

Those ARE the facts and have been for the past 15-25 years!!!
Like it or not, that's what DSC is for!!!


The above statements are not true.


Channel 16 is always monitored on commercial vessels, required by law.
On all sailboats I've been on either for fun or delivery it was monitored. It's standard procedure.
I've never seen Channel 13 monitored, apart from port entry if the pilot requests it.
But I've only sailed on British-flagged vessels, still, by the rules you have to monitor Channel 16.
It is part of taking over watch at sea to check all radio equipment is operational, adjust volume and squelch on VHF, check HF and Sat is operational. It is automatic.

2182 kHz is a possibility, check the attached image (I can't insert it here) and see that 2182 is written in red. Check new Furuno equipment brochures and wonder why it is still there? 2182 is still part of GMDSS, the fact that USCG is not monitoring it is a completely different story.

Cheers,

Akos (still no dog licence)




Two personal photos showing VHF and HF equipment, link here:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7W...it?usp=sharing

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7W...it?usp=sharing
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Old 10-03-2014, 08:01   #64
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Re: Ham Radio vs Marine SSB

This morning I finally got around to listening to the video, completely....and was going make a brief comment on the guy calling the coast guard by saying "ah hello coast guard"....
And the I saw the above comments implying that even saying "Mayday" on 2182khz is still a viable / possible way to signal a Distress (which it is NOT!!), so I thought I better help clear this up once-and-for-all....

So, that being said....



sdr,
I stand by my words 100%....
NOBODY is monitoring 2182....and even though there are some rules that say otherwise, many commercial vessels at sea (Sea Area A3, in particular) are NOT monitoring VHF Ch. 16 (or at least not a good job of doing so, low-volume, etc...)




1) Regarding VHF watch-standing while at sea (Sea Area A3), I will clarify my comments by adding:
a) The applicable ITU Radio Regs (2012).....

Quote:
31.17 8 1) Ship stations, where so equipped, shall, while at sea, maintain an automatic digital selective calling watch on the appropriate distress and safety calling frequencies in the frequency bands in which they are operating. Ship stations, where so equipped, shall also maintain watch on the appropriate frequencies for the automatic reception of transmissions of meteorological and navigational warnings and other urgent information to ships.


Listening watches on 2182 kHz are no longer mandatory. Until 1 February 2005, every ship while at sea shall maintain, when practicable, a continuous listening watch on VHF Ch. 16; such a watch shall be kept at the position from which the ship is normally navigated.


31.18 2) Ship stations complying with the provisions of this Chapter should, where practicable, maintain a watch on the frequency 156.8 MHz (VHF channel 16).



b) And, the applicable USCG and FCC regs....

Quote:
Ships, where so equipped, shall, while at sea, maintain an automatic digital selective calling watch on the appropriate distress & safety calling frequencies [e.g. channel 70] in the frequency bands in which they are operating. If operating in a GMDSS Sea Area A1 may discontinue their watch on channel 16. However, ships, where so equipped, shall also maintain watch on the appropriate frequencies for the automatic reception of transmissions of meteorological and navigational warnings and other urgent information for ships.


Ship stations complying with these provisions should, where practicable, maintain a watch on the frequency 156.650 MHz (VHF Channel 13) for communications related to the safety of navigation.

Quote:
In addition, every power-driven vessel of 20 meters or over in length or of 100 tons and upwards carrying one or more passengers for hire, or a towing vessel of 26 feet or over in length, as well, as every dredge and floating plant operating near a channel or fairway, must also maintain a watch on channel 13 (156.650 MHz) --channel 67 (156.375 MHz) if operating on the lower Mississippi River-- ; while navigating on U.S. waters (which include the territorial sea, internal waters that are subject to tidal influence, and, those not subject to tidal influence but that are used or are determined to be capable of being used for substantial interstate or foreign commerce). Sequential monitoring techniques (scanners) alone cannot be used to meet this requirement; two radios (including portable radios, i.e. handhelds) or one radio with two receivers, are required. These vessels must also maintain a watch on the designated Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) frequency, in lieu of maintaining watch on channel 16, while transiting within a VTS area.


Quote:
In general, any vessel equipped with a VHF marine radiotelephone (whether voluntarily or required to) must maintain a watch on channel 16 (156.800 MHz) whenever the radiotelephone is not being used to communicate.



c) I'm not a professional mariner / mate...just an ocean sailor with lots of GMDSS experience...

d) In Sea Area A1, coastal areas of the US, EU, and in some of the Caribbean, I've found most commercial vessels respond to calls on Ch. 16...BUT...
But, offshore (both Sea Areas A2 and A3) I have NOT found this to be the case.....and have had frustrating luck, when attempting to raise commercial vessels at sea (primarily in the N. Atlantic, Sea Area A3) on Ch. 16, even calling the vessel by name (derived from AIS), multiple times....
But, have never failed to raise them via DSC, or on Ch. 13...

(heck, this surprised me.....but sorry to say that's what's happening out at sea...)

e) I cannot speak for your experiences as an officer on the bridge of British ships, but my experiences regarding MANY vessels crossing the N. Atlantic (in Sea Area A2 and A3), are borne out by many other ocean sailors (and a few pro mariners, who have posted on-line in recent past)



f) Further, while I agree with your unwritten premise that it IS a good idea for all vessels to monitor VHF Ch. 16 at all times they are underway (and the USCG and FCC agree as well), the facts are that this is NOT being done....not by a vast majority of pleasure vessels, nor by a significant amount / majority of commercial vessels when offshore / on the open ocean (Sea Area A3)...

{BTW, I myself always monitor VHF Ch. 16, while underway.....everywhere....24/7.....just wish everyone did!!}





2) As for 2182khz....yes, Furuno, etc. does still place it on their radios....but I really don't think what the radio manufactures put on their radio's front panel should be used as an argument here, as the point is that NOBODY is monitoring 2182khz anymore....(GMDSS doesn't require it....and hasn't for MANY years!!!!)
It's like 500khz CW.....NOBODY is there anymore....


And, some authorities outside of the Med and Europe, now cover their Sea Area A2 requirements with HF-DSC (and some like the US, use both HF-DSC and HF-Voice to cover both Sea Area A2 and A3), rather than MF-DSC....which IS allowed under the ITU and GMDSS regs....(and NOBODY is monitoring 2182...)


Maybe you'll concede that it really doesn't make sense to imply that using 2182khz to yell Mayday on, is a good idea!!! (I mean that kind of comment could be taken by some to simply say "hey that guy said it's part of the GMDSS, so I'm good-to-go..." and without knowing it, you've caused someone to ignore the facts....the facts are that NOBODY is going to hear 'ya yelling Mayday on 2182...)
Quote:
Originally Posted by sdrformariners View Post
2182 kHz is a possibility, check the attached image (I can't insert it here) and see that 2182 is written in red. Check new Furuno equipment brochures and wonder why it is still there? 2182 is still part of GMDSS, the fact that USCG is not monitoring it is a completely different stor
And, did you hear the video....he called the coast guard ostensibly to declare an "emergency" for an abandoned vessel 120+nm SSE of New Orleans, by saying "ah, hello coast guard, hello coast guard, hello coast guard", apparently on VHF Ch. 16....and then the same thing for the "Tug Kelly"....and tried to raise the USCG on 2182, by the same method (saying "ah, hello coast guard, hello coast guard, hello coast guard")....and tunes to 14.300mhz and uses almost as bad radio procedures...

Seriously???
And, even if there was someone monitoring 2182 (which there is NOT), it's the middle of the day (and I expect summertime, or close to summertime, looking at the weather and sun angles) when typical range on 2mhz is going to be about 50 - 100 miles....


Now sdr, I usually have NO problem if someone wishes to express their opinions.....as we all have different opinions on things....but seriously, are you really defending the position that calling on 2182 is going to be of ANY help at all, just because Furuno still puts it on their radios, even though nobody is out there monitoring it????
Sorry to say sir, but that is very bad advice to give...




In addition to the USCG not monitoring either 2182 voice, nor 2187.5 DSC.....
Quote:
Termination of Radiotelephone Medium Frequency 2182 kHz Watchkeeping, 2187.5 kHz Digital Selective Calling Channel Guard, and 2670 kHz Broadcasts

SUMMARY: The United States Coast
Guard is announcing that it will no
longer maintain a watch on 2182 kHz,
will no longer guard the Digital
Selective Calling (DSC) channel 2187.5
kHz, and will no longer transmit Marine
Information Broadcasts on 2670 kHz.
The minimal use of these channels by
mariners for distress and safety coupled
with antenna site deterioration, costly
upkeep, and extensive maintenance
required to support the medium
frequency (MF) system have led to a
Coast Guard decision to terminate the
MF services and direct the public
mariner to use more modern safety and
distress services which can be more
reliably received by the Coast Guard.
DATES: The termination announced in
this notice is effective on August 1,
2013.

In addition to the above announcement, here is further info from the USCG.....
Quote:
The frequency 2182 kHz (which is in the
frequency band generally referred to as
medium frequency (MF)), was
designated more than 65 years ago at the
International Telecommunications
Union Radio Conference (Atlantic City,
1947) as an international radiotelephone
distress frequency. Shore stations that
operated in this MF band, and ships
subject to the International Convention
for the Safety of Life at Sea Ch. IV, Reg.
5 (SOLAS) were required to maintain a
watch on this frequency.
Beginning in 1987, the International
Telecommunications Union Radio
Regulations and SOLAS were amended
to incorporate this MF radiotelephone
watchkeeping requirement within the
Global Maritime Distress and Safety
System (GMDSS), an internationally
agreed-upon set of satellite and
terrestrial communications systems
used to increase safety and facilitate the
location and rescue of distressed ships,
boats and aircraft.
Under GMDSS, ship and shore exclusive
watchkeeping on MF 2182 kHz was no
longer a requirement, but instead
became only one of several frequencies
available for distress communications.
No domestic regulations exist
requiring the Coast Guard to provide MF
distress safety watchkeeping services,
although Federal Communications
Commission regulations in 47 CFR Part
80 mandate certain carriage
requirements in order to communicate
in an emergency. SOLAS requires the
Coast Guard to provide, as it deems
practical and necessary, appropriate
shore-based facilities for GMDSS
services including those in the 1.6–4
MHz range (SOLAS). The Coast Guard,
in cooperation with other agencies and
organizations, provides each of the other
five services listed in SOLAS
regulations, including satellite
communications, support for 406 MHz
satellite emergency position-indicating
radio beacons (EPIRBs), VHF
communications through Rescue 21,
high frequency radiocommunications,
and NAVTEX 1 broadcasts of maritime
safety information.
While many countries terminated
2182 kHz watchkeeping from shore
when GMDSS was implemented in1999,
the Coast Guard continued its watch
on this frequency to support smaller
vessels not subject to SOLAS that operate
between approximately 20 and 100 miles
from shore.
Advancements in satellite, digital, very
high frequency (VHF), and high
frequency (HF) radio communication
equipment, including satellite service
provider competition, have improved
service and reduced costs of this
equipment causing MF radiotelephone
to become obsolete.
In addition, a detailed review of
several Coast Guard MF sites revealed
significant antenna ground deterioration
and infrastructure support degradation,
leaving the Coast Guard at risk for not
being able to receive or respond to
maritime distress calls on 2182 kHz or
2187.5 kHz, and not being able to
transmit effectively on 2670 kHz. Early
last year, as a result of physical site
surveys, the Coast Guard confirmed the
significant site deterioration and,
therefore, the unreliability of receiving
MF transmissions at many
locations.
The Coast Guard provided
notifications of the situation to mariners
using Local Notice to Mariners and
radio broadcasts. The Coast Guard did
not receive any adverse reaction to those
notifications. The Coast Guard will
discontinue all watchkeeping and
transmissions on MF channels, namely
the 2182 kHz voice channel, the 2187.5
kHz Digital Selective Calling (DSC)
channel and Marine Information
Broadcasts (MIBs) on 2670 kHz.
Mariners can tune their existing HF
radios to other GMDSS radiotelephone
distress voice frequencies the Coast
Guard monitors (i.e., 4125, 6215, 8291,
or 12290 kHz voice), use satellite-based EPIRB,
or use HF radios equipped with DSC.
The Coast Guard urges
mariners to use these other alternatives
to the MF channels for distress calls,
DSC calls, and information broadcasts.
Mariners should not need to purchase
any new equipment to make this change
from 2182 kHz to other GMDSS distress
frequencies. Most radiocommunications
equipment carried by vessels is able to
operate in the 2–27.5 MHz range in
addition to the VHF radiotelephone also
carried by ships. While some older
radios may not tune to other
frequencies, these radios are no longer
sold, parts are not available for repairing
them and they are not typically found
on vessels. Therefore, the overwhelming
majority of vessels simply need to tune
their radios from 2182 kHz to another
GMDSS distress frequency (such as
4125, 6215, 8291, or 12290 kHz).
Because VHF frequencies may not be
reliable more than 20 nautical miles
from shore, any vessel that operates
more than 20 nautical miles from the
coast should carry
radiocommunications equipment
capable of tuning to distress frequencies
other than VHF to ensure the vessel is
able to make a distress call when
needed.
All vessel owners and operators are
strongly advised to check their
communication equipment regularly to
ensure it is properly installed, operating
and tuned to the most reliable distress
channels.


All the above is public info, free for the taking, that has been widely disseminated for quite some time....
And, if you really are familiar with the GMDSS, you should know that there has been NO 2182 voice watch required anywhere for more than 15 years!!!
Quote:
Maintain a DSC watch on 2187.5 kHz, 8414.5 kHz and on at least one of the DSC frequencies 4207.5 kHz, 6312 kHz, 12577 kHz, or 16804.5 Hz. (The watch-maintaining receiver may be separate from or combined with the MF/HF installation.)


In actual practice, the outboard DSC scanning receivers and the DSC scanning done by GMDSS transceivers, are scanning all six GMDSS DSC Distress and Safety calling freqs...
This is not something new!!


Sorry, I just can't spend anymore time typing....
But, I do hope you'll understand the facts by now...


fair winds.


John

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Old 10-03-2014, 08:17   #65
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Re: Ham Radio vs Marine SSB

Wow!! As the OP, I was just curious if it was worth the effort to get a ham license.
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Old 10-03-2014, 08:54   #66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coutret View Post
Wow!! As the OP, I was just curious if it was worth the effort to get a ham license.
Grin.....anchors anyone?
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Old 10-03-2014, 09:18   #67
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Re: Ham Radio vs Marine SSB

Wow, that's a lot of great GMDSS MF info there, many thanks for your time!
An interesting read, should be a sticky.
Good to know the legal background, still, at sea on my deep-sea vessels we always tested 2182 just in case.
From personal experience even strong commercial MF stations are hard to hear midday, that might be a factor.

I'm sorry to hear that commercial vessels did not respond to your calls on Channel 16, personally I have not been in a situation where a reasonable call on Channel 16 was not answered.
I crossed the Atlantic and worked in the Caribbean many times, two occasions spring to mind where sailboats called us for a chat, both cases well offshore, in all cases we responded promptly. Weather questions and the normal "are you all ok?" queries, keep in mind that I sailed on Red Ensign vessels with good captains.
Training and attitude is not the same on all commercial vessels, Ch 16 is awash with blabber e.g. Gibraltar and Ushant, bored idiots shouting "filippino monkey". I can't post a video here but it is frustrating.

Again, credit where credit is due, great info above! Good read, thanks!

Akos
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Old 10-03-2014, 09:33   #68
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Re: Ham Radio vs Marine SSB

I took the video below as this was going on for like the third night watch, continuously.
Please remember this:
- Get DSC capable VHF gear
- if you can afford it, buy HF DSC gear.

Press a button and help will come with the right equipment, after all, we all sail the same seas :-)

Akos
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Old 10-03-2014, 09:39   #69
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Re: Ham Radio vs Marine SSB

Quote:
if you can afford it, buy HF DSC gear.
I don't think you can buy any other type, these days ( outside amateur)

Dave
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Old 10-03-2014, 10:56   #70
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Re: Ham Radio vs Marine SSB

John, et. al...

I think we should cut the guy in the video a little slack here.

1. He's an Extra Class Ham (Kevin, KF5KNT)

2. He was singlehanding

3. He was obviously excited and forgot to use good radio procedure

4. He needed to TALK TO SOMEONE to report finding an abandoned vessel

5. While he wasn't up on the USCG having (only recently) abandoned watch keeping on 2182kHz), he did exactly the right thing in making a call on Channel 16 as he saw and identified a tug nearby. He called the tug by name but got no answer.

6. He then moved to the Maritime Mobile Net frequency, 14300kHz, and got his message thru. It was sometime before 11AM because the Net Controller mentioned the Intercontinental Net which ends at 11AM Eastern time, when the Maritime Mobile Net begins on that frequency.

7. He went out of his way to identify the abandoned vessel, even turning around to sail back to it to try to find some registration markings.

All-in-all, I'd say Kevin did a pretty good job and should be given Kudos for his efforts.

And, yes, 2182kHz is all but abandoned these days. There are good alternatives, however, for VOICE calls on HF/SSB.

BTW, in this situation I would have used voice calls as well, not DSC.

Bill
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Old 10-03-2014, 11:00   #71
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Re: Ham Radio vs Marine SSB

Quote:
BTW, in this situation I would have used voice calls as well, not DSC.

I think one of the issues here, is that people are not really recognising the role GMDSS plays. This is especially true in the US.

In many jurisdictions, unless you trigger with a DSC alert ( of some type) you run the risk of not being heard. Hence the comment above really underplays the reality of DSC and GMDSS.


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Old 10-03-2014, 11:12   #72
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Re: Ham Radio vs Marine SSB

Quote:
Originally Posted by goboatingnow View Post
I think one of the issues here, is that people are not really recognising the role GMDSS plays. This is especially true in the US.

In many jurisdictions, unless you trigger with a DSC alert ( of some type) you run the risk of not being heard. Hence the comment above really underplays the reality of DSC and GMDSS.


dave
Respectfully, Dave, IMHO it does not.

The problem is that some folks tend to think DSC/GMDSS is a prescription for every situation....every type of emergency, every type of radio operator, and every locale worldwide.

It is not!

In the above situation, triggering a DSC call could well have given the wrong impression, i.e., that the caller was in trouble. He was not, and he repeatedly stressed this on 14300. Rather, he was reporting another vessel in distress, and needed to communicate some things about that emergency.

He did so very well via voice SSB on the ham bands. Now, the USCG -- which has de facto jurisdiction over that part of the Gulf -- was made aware that:

  • there was an abandoned sailboat in the Gulf of Mexico
  • the name of the boat was Cape Cod (or whatever...I forget)
  • the abandoned boat had a PFD floating behind it
  • the abandoned boat had red paint all over it's port side
  • the home port of the abandoned boat was Houston Texas
  • there were/or were not identifying numbers on the boat
  • the sails were in tatters
  • the exact location of the boat was ....
  • the name of his vessel was Carrie Ann
  • his name was Kevin
  • his ham call sign was KF5KNT
  • his boat was not in any difficulty
  • etc., etc.
If the Coast Guard wanted to talk directly to him, they could have done so on 14300kHz (they often do come up on that frequency when there's a known emergency), or they could have asked him to move to one of their HF working frequencies.


For many, HF/DSC is great....best thing since sliced bread.


But it's surely not the be all, end all that some would like it to be.


Bill
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Old 10-03-2014, 12:17   #73
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Re: Ham Radio vs Marine SSB

Quote:
It is not!

In the above situation, triggering a DSC call could well have given the wrong impression, i.e., that the caller was in trouble. He was not, and he repeatedly stressed this on 14300. Rather, he was reporting another vessel in distress, and needed to communicate some things about that emergency.

I absolutely agree, and I wasn't critising the video, relaying Maydays and othe information that is not about the caller himself, is best done either by DSC ordinary calls or Voice using Mayday Relay, DSC mayday relay should never be used, especially in HF

what I was referring to was that, outside of one or two situations, you will find that not using DSC makes it harder and harder to be heard. I now find that without DSC I rarely get a bridge call answered anymore. Compared to coastguard radio , where I don't need to use DSC at present

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Old 10-03-2014, 12:55   #74
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Re: Ham Radio vs Marine SSB

Once again, Dave, I think you need to think outside the European box!

Here in the Chesapeake region, all commercial vessels and many large yachts maintain a listening watch on Channel 13 VHF. I have yet to call one without prompt answer.

And, I try very hard NOT to call them, anyway, since I believe the best course of action to be to stay out of their way, no matter who has the "right of way".

Cheers,

Bill
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Old 10-03-2014, 13:13   #75
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Re: Ham Radio vs Marine SSB

It might be helpful to read the DSC Distress page:

DSC Distress
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