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Old 27-12-2007, 12:11   #1
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Radio Etiquette and the lack thereof...

It never fails to astound me how incredibly ignorant boaters are generally of some decent radio etiquette and basic procedure....We had occasion to be in Charleston Harbor three weekends ago in the middle of some drama with a boat that had hit an obstacle at speed and injured one person on board. The USCG was trying to co-ordinate rescue with land-based emergency services and people kept butting in with nonsense like "Sharee....are you out there?" and so forth. The lack of considereation and basic radio knowledge was jeopordising this rescue and you could hear the exasperation in the USCG operator's voice on several occasions.

I found this simple and clearly written guide today for those that need to know.....

Communicating on the water: A guide to marine radio etiquette

We all need to memorise the information on that page and use it EVERY time we use the VHF or SSB.

It is also very useful to know and memorise the Alpha Codes (Alpha, Beta, Charlie, Delta, etc etc) used by the USCG and about any other organisation involved in radio communication...it greatly simplifies relaying of information in a form that everyone can understand.....you can find those here....

Morse Code and Phonetic Alphabet Page

All of this stuff is easily findable via Google so have a look if you aren't up to speed with it or need some further training.
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Old 27-12-2007, 13:18   #2
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. The USCG was trying to co-ordinate rescue with land-based emergency services and people kept butting in with nonsense like "Sharee....are you out there?"
Yes, I agree with you totally. But also remember that the person calling Sharee might not have been in range of the emergency broadcaster. Unless the station is using a repeater, VHF is just line of sight and if the emergency is 10 miles down the coast, someone 10 miles up the coast may be oblivious, but you in the middle hear both.

Rules vary too, and I don't remember exactly how you guys in the USA do it, so its behoven on cruisers to adjust to the new area they sail into.

Be all that as it may, some rescues take hours and need to be moved off Ch16 to a working channel. The calling channel can't be locked up for hours because some twit needs a tow. Though, obviously in this case while the injured person is being assisted using the calling channel is OK.

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Old 27-12-2007, 13:31   #3
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Morse Code and Phonetic Alphabet Page

All of this stuff is easily findable via Google so have a look if you aren't up to speed with it or need some further training.
I will admit to having never even heard of the "english" Phonetic Alphabet......but then again their is lots I don't know....

Foxtrot Oscar just sounds more "right" than Fredrick Oliver (or "Fox Oboe")

But actually a good point about keeping the phonetic alphabet to hand for those of us who do not use it every day, in times of stress (on the radio to the CG) it is easy for the mind to go blank. ().
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Old 27-12-2007, 15:40   #4
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Any bets that the person calling Sharee probably had it on High Power and also had the squelch turned up all the way?

Steve B.
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Old 27-12-2007, 16:40   #5
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In the US Navy boot camp one is required to learn the NATO version. At least, it was back in the 60's.
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Old 27-12-2007, 17:31   #6
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Del - Same in the 70's ... you old Foxtrot Alpha Romeo Tango.
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Old 27-12-2007, 17:34   #7
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The VHF coming on with someones kid saying "hello... hello" doesn't help. Sounding like a 5 yr old on the radio. Frustrates me. Radio checks on Ch. 16- frustrates me. Where the fish are biting on Ch. 16- frustrates me. Fact of the matter is anyone can go out and buy a boat and take it out easier than it would be to get a dog from the pound. I know that I'll probably get flamed for writing this but some sort of test should be required. Just basic competency. Here in California, if you have a drivers license, you can cruise around in a huge boat capable of doing extreme damage without ever having to pass a certain level of competency. Radio proceedure and boat handling should be required. Oh and let me just throw in navigational rules!
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Old 27-12-2007, 17:46   #8
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Unfortunately, licensing doesn't preclude stupidity nor does it minimize it too much. All it takes is some money and a few gold chains around the neck to look like a powerboater who, after having occupied a seat at a training class, still has no clue. If we're going to institute some prerequisite training, my priority would be to require it of anyone who wants to have a gun. Still not a "fool-proof" means of eliminating the idiots but it might actually help a little.

Regarding Ch16, the CG around here takes a pretty serious view toward anyone mis-using it for (needless) conversation.
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Old 27-12-2007, 17:58   #9
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Spencer
Unfortunately, licensing doesn't preclude stupidity nor does it minimize it too much. All it takes is some money and a few gold chains around the neck to look like a powerboater who, after having occupied a seat at a training class, still has no clue. If we're going to institute some prerequisite training, my priority would be to require it of anyone who wants to have a gun. Still not a "fool-proof" means of eliminating the idiots but it might actually help a little.

Regarding Ch16, the CG around here takes a pretty serious view toward anyone mis-using it for (needless) conversation.
I agree on all counts. Just seems like so many on the radio have no training at all in its use and those that don't have any training or background are obvious to the rest of us. I can house train a dog so I figure it should be possible to train even the most basic idiot to at least use the radio and frequencies correctly. Ahh, but now I'm thinking of Utopia!
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Old 27-12-2007, 18:04   #10
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It is also very useful to know and memorise the Alpha Codes (Alpha, Beta, Charlie, Delta, etc etc)

Morse Code and Phonetic Alphabet Page
B-***Bravo Benjamin Baker Bologna Berta Baltimore

Sorry, it just cracked me up.
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Old 27-12-2007, 18:10   #11
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more licensing means more taxes and fees means more cost to boating which already has enough costs as it is. I agree there are idiots out there, but even drivers licenses don't keep idiots off the roads, why would boating licenses keep idiots off the water?

as for radio etiquette, I started as a ham before I got the boat and the ability to use marine VHF, while ham radio is by no means perfect, it has taught me quite a bit of radio knowledge including how to be polite. The phonetic alphabet came pretty quickly too. I'll agree that the rescue operation PROBABLY should have been moved off the calling frequency, but I wasn't there, I don't know the situation, they might have had a reason to stay on there.
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Old 27-12-2007, 18:15   #12
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It must be really frustrating to be a Coast Guard radio operator required to respond to calls. One day several years ago in southern California, I heard someone (obviously a teenager) on 16 key the mike, wait a few seconds and say,
"....mmmmmmmmmMAYday....." <click>

Even though that was the end of their transmission, you could almost hear their laughter.

After a short wait, the Coast Guard operator responded with the usual, but you could almost hear the sighs in his voice.

It should be a hanging offense imho.

Steve B.
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Old 27-12-2007, 18:24   #13
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I'll agree that the rescue operation PROBABLY should have been moved off the calling frequency, but I wasn't there, I don't know the situation, they might have had a reason to stay on there.
Often, it is the only experienced boater that is injured or 'lost' or ... and the CG doesn't want to take the chance of losing contact with someone who may only know how to push the button to talk.

Some nice weekend (especially after some dumpy weather has departed the area), listen to 16 and some of the calls that the CG have to handle. The more populous the area, the more interesting the calls. It would be funny except that too often there IS an emergency and no one on the boat knows how to operate it, or even to find out where they are, let alone let someone else know.
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Old 27-12-2007, 18:29   #14
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This last summer on the way back from Catalina, we were entertained by a sailboat that was trying to hail a 900’ cargo ship steaming along in the shipping lane, asking him if he was going to alter his course (because I assume he believed sailboats always have the right-of-way). The only response they were able to get from the cargo ship was ” uuh…what?”
Got to give him credit for trying.
I agree with the phonetic alphabet, until we can start text-ing.
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Old 27-12-2007, 19:03   #15
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"BETA".....oh my...that's embarrassing...

This particular afternoon was bedlam on VHF 16...there was the already mentioned rescue involving the Coast Guard helicopter and the Mt Pleasant FD boat and Rescue Squad...it was serious...passenger with a possible broken back....in the middle of that Mt Pleasant reported to the CG that there is a jumper on a bridge somewhere....meanwhile on 22A there was a radio relay going on offshore somewhere with a disabled boat....also two different panpan's for overdue boats off the coast...and us having picked up some major boat debris and bringing it to the CG....it was the busiest I've ever heard coastal VHF traffic in forever....and in the middle of ALL that going on some dipshits looking for their friends and wanting a radio check etc etc etc...it was frikken crazy...and it REALLY highlighted the lack of knowledge to do with proper radio etiquette...those two pages I listed tell it all...that is all that is needed....for people to follow that protocol...it isn't rocket science.......
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