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Old 26-12-2016, 19:20   #1
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Marine SSB Restrictions

Hey All! My in-laws are preparing for a cruising trip to the bahamas. My father in law has an SSB onboard, and got the appropriate license last year. After some research we discovered that I can not use my ham license to to speak with him over SSB. So that is out. Our next thought was cross band, but that is restricted by my license as well. Our last thought was for him to simply broadcast his position etc, and I simply listen. This seems to be ok, I havent found anything that says that he can not do this. I am hoping someone with more experience could tell me for sure if this is the case.

The thought is, that on certain days/times he would broadcast, and I would listen and his daughter would get an update on her parents position and what they are up to.

Thanks All!
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Old 26-12-2016, 20:03   #2
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Re: Marine SSB Restrictions

Some marine SSBs can be opened up to include the HAM bands. Sometimes it's as easy as sniping the lead on a programming resistor. If his can be converted get him a study guide and have him take the technician and general on the same day. It's perfectly legal to use a marine SSB on the ham bands for a licenced HAM, but it is not legal to use a HAM radio on the marine bands except in an emergency.

Plan B, buy a Spot, It keeps our relatives happy and they don't need a radio. Position reports show up in their e-mail.
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Old 26-12-2016, 20:36   #3
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Re: Marine SSB Restrictions

Does he have a ham license? Or willing to get one?

In that case, your answer is to get the SSB radio opened up to work on ham bands, and use those. This will be by far the most straightforward way to do it, and completely legal.

You could also use the marine bands -- the FCC license comes without any test. IF you have appropriate marine certified equipment AND can operate from on board some vessel.

If you don't have appropriate equipment, but you have an HF radio which will work on the marine HF bands, you could just do that. It's illegal, but probably quite low risk. Nor would you be likely to bother a soul in any way, since there is a lot of free bandwidth in the HF marine bands. Mind you, I'm not advising you to do that.
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Old 26-12-2016, 20:48   #4
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Re: Marine SSB Restrictions

For heavens sake, NO....don't do that (i.e., use a ham radio on the marine bands or just check in without a proper license).

If your father-in-law isn't a ham, or won't be a ham by the time of the trip, then ham radio is OUT. By the way, even if he has a ham license he'd need to get a reciprocal license from the Bahamian government before he could transmit on the ham bands within Bahamian waters.

If he is legally licensed for use of the marine SSB (ship station license AND a marine operator's permit), then he could check into one or another of the marine SSB nets. The Cruisheimers Net operates daily at 0830EST on 8152 and covers the Bahamas very well. Many boats check in from there. The Doo Dah Net operates on the same frequency at 5PM daily.

There are others which operate daily on the marine SSB frequencies: The Caribbean Safety and Security Net, Chris Parkers Weather Net, the Seven Seas Cruising Association Net, etc., etc.

Also, I'd suggest that he get an account with station WLO in Mobile AL. That's the marine operator. They have big transmitters, big antennas, broadcast weather information and ships traffic lists several times a day on several marine HF frequencies, and can allow your in-laws to telephone anyone anywhere. The fee is quite reasonable.

Even if he's not a ham, I'd suggest he listen in daily to the Waterway Net on 7268LSB beginning at 0745 Eastern Time. That's a ham net which has been operational every day for the past 51 years and which covers the entire East Coast and the Bahamas.

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Old 26-12-2016, 21:37   #5
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Re: Marine SSB Restrictions

Just use a marine ship to shore frequency. Not ideal as in not technically legal but have a perspective on the state of HF. It is a dying art. There is very little traffic, very few and declining user numbers. The chance that someone will come after you is very small and if so you can always claim it was an emergency (then it is allowed). Just follow the rules and the etiquette and keep your conversations relatively short. If someone comes on air and tells you to release the frequency, do so. Stay away from safety, weather, aircraft, military, data and so on frequencies. You will be fine. Of course, if your in laws get a ham license it would be much better.
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Old 26-12-2016, 23:05   #6
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Re: Marine SSB Restrictions

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Originally Posted by Pizzazz View Post
Just use a marine ship to shore frequency. Not ideal as in not technically legal but have a perspective on the state of HF........
This is very dangerous advice. You would be breaking several U.S. and international laws by doing this. Additionally, it could be construed as an unlicensed shore station communicating with a vessel in foreign waters -- think Homeland Security, USCG/DEA drug interdiction, etc.

[QUOTE=Pizzazz;2288271] ....on the state of HF. It is a dying art. There is very little traffic, very few and declining user numbers. The chance that someone will come after you is very small and if so you can always claim it was an emergency (then it is allowed). [QUOTE=Pizzazz;2288271]

It's only a dying art for those who swallow the DSC cool aid and who do not themselves use their radios very much. There is a great deal of HF activity on the bands....you just need to know when and where to look. Some of the activity can be found on the nets and stations I quoted above.

Re: claiming an emergency, that's so transparent it's ridiculous. Someone would wind up losing their ticket(s) at best or landing in jail if the involved agencies got their backs up.

Why take a chance, when there are satisfactory LEGAL alternatives?

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Old 26-12-2016, 23:46   #7
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Re: Marine SSB Restrictions

Someone mentioned SPOT. This would work, and be easier. But inReach is even better, 2 way texting via satellite. Not the same as hearing their voice, but it's easy.

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Old 27-12-2016, 00:03   #8
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Re: Marine SSB Restrictions

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Originally Posted by AgentKnipe View Post
Hey All! My in-laws are preparing for a cruising trip to the bahamas. My father in law has an SSB onboard, and got the appropriate license last year. After some research we discovered that I can not use my ham license to to speak with him over SSB. So that is out. Our next thought was cross band, but that is restricted by my license as well. Our last thought was for him to simply broadcast his position etc, and I simply listen. This seems to be ok, I havent found anything that says that he can not do this. I am hoping someone with more experience could tell me for sure if this is the case.

The thought is, that on certain days/times he would broadcast, and I would listen and his daughter would get an update on her parents position and what they are up to.
First of all, welcome to Cruisers Forum!

What you suggest is (I believe) legal. You're not allowed to broadcast (communicast) on the Ham bands except to put out a call to contact someone. But I don't think the marine bands have such a restriction.

But that sort of 1-way communication is certainly sub-optimal. Getting a Ham ticked these days is pretty simple since they've done away with the Morse-code requirement. If your FIL is up to it, getting his ticket & opening up the rig (to broadcast everywhere) is probably the nicest option for all concerned.
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Old 27-12-2016, 05:49   #9
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Re: Marine SSB Restrictions

Re: spot. Yes it works but it also has a danger - If you forget to press the button to keep it transmitting every day the people on shore may freak out and think you sank. You need to tell them not to worry if you mess up. There are cases where worried relatives called the Coast Guard to start searching when the only problem was the people on th eboat forgot to press the button or the thing's battery went dead.
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Old 27-12-2016, 05:53   #10
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Re: Marine SSB Restrictions

Another thought. Tell the people on shore that you are going to be out of touch for days at a time and you will send them an email from the next port with viable wifi. It is only since we all had cell phones in our pockets that people have gotten the idea that it is IMPERATIVE to be in nonstop contact and that if you dont know where your relative's boat is EVERY MINUTE OF THE DAY then the sky will fall and everyone will die. They won't. One of the great things about cruising is unplugging from the 24/7 communications system. The relatives on shore will get used to it eventually. Mine did.
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Old 27-12-2016, 06:21   #11
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Re: Marine SSB Restrictions

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Originally Posted by Jon Hacking View Post
First of all, welcome to Cruisers Forum!

What you suggest is (I believe) legal. You're not allowed to broadcast (communicast) on the Ham bands except to put out a call to contact someone. But I don't think the marine bands have such a restriction.

But that sort of 1-way communication is certainly sub-optimal. Getting a Ham ticked these days is pretty simple since they've done away with the Morse-code requirement. If your FIL is up to it, getting his ticket & opening up the rig (to broadcast everywhere) is probably the nicest option for all concerned.
Thanks Jon. I know that it is sub optimal. He and I have discussed him getting his license, I dont think he really wants to, but if this doesnt work then he may be up for it. I have been over the fcc site, but I havent found a rules break down like I can find for HAM. Do you know if such a thing exists? Or is marine SSB simply not restricted to the extent that HAM is?
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Old 27-12-2016, 06:57   #12
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Re: Marine SSB Restrictions

By cross band do mean one listening on the ham and transmitting on marine and the other listening on marine and transmitting on ham? Isn't that the same as what some of these repeaters do listen on one freq. and transmit on another.
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Old 27-12-2016, 07:10   #13
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Re: Marine SSB Restrictions

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By cross band do mean one listening on the ham and transmitting on marine and the other listening on marine and transmitting on ham? Isn't that the same as what some of these repeaters do listen on one freq. and transmit on another.
Repeaters are allowed to rebroadcast(repeat) a signal, even cross band, however I am restricted from one way broadcasting, which is what I would have to do in order for me to send on ham band, and receive on marine ssb.
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Old 27-12-2016, 07:33   #14
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Re: Marine SSB Restrictions

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Originally Posted by Pizzazz View Post
Just use a marine ship to shore frequency. Not ideal as in not technically legal...
Not technically legal!?! What you suggest is very specifically ILLEGAL. That's a bit like saying, "While it's not technically legal to kill a person, consider the world's over-population; is it really such a bad thing?"

Okay, maybe that overstates the case some. And you are right that the odds of getting caught are pretty low. Still, what you suggest is illegal. You are advising the OP to commit a crime. Are you going to be there to help him with the legal bills if he happens to be the one-in-a-thousand who gets caught? Yeah, I didn't think so.
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Old 27-12-2016, 07:40   #15
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Re: Marine SSB Restrictions

Depending on where they are cruising in the Bahamas, there is always cell phone coverage. My AT&T plan gets me unlimited texts and $1 or so a minute calls for $30/month. Not as fun or glamorous as HF but pretty useful!
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