lorenzo_b - I have to disagree about your comments that SSB and VHF
are as simple to use as a cell phone
Both have strict protocols defined by the ITU regarding proper use - both so that messages are correctly addressed and understood and in order to ensure that frequencies aren't used incorrectly to prevent urgency, distress
and other messages to be understood.
Particularly in the BVI, where a lot of Americans who have no formal radio knowledge are chartering, the use of VHF Channel 16 is miserable. Last week there was a vessel grounding being coordinated by the U.S. Coast Guard as MRCC where idiots with no idea were either trying to contact restaurants to order dinner or talking with other boats about their speed and evening plans while volunteers raced to the island where the 1 distress
signal originated in order to look for debris and people in the water
- the coast guard had to use "Silence Mayday" several times and, since the people had no idea what that meant, had to repeat it in clear language telling people to change frequencies and leave CH16 open for the distress traffic. That only lasted a couple of minutes before people were calling in to ask if they could order dinner again...
This type of traffic is unknown in europe
, where SRC and LRC or local equivalents are mandatory and include actual training in procedures.
Apart from correct use of the voice portion of the GMDSS system, there is the whole world of DSC
on both VHF and SSB. While this digital use of VHF is rarely used in the Caribbean
or the USA, it is used in many parts
of the world and is certainly not as simple as dialing a number on a phone
Finally, I've got an SSB aboard and an LRC and still feel that I know next to nothing about the correction operation of my unit; and I cannot think of a single
HAM operator who would equate the use of radio signals to be like pressing buttons on a phone
Also, the callsign allows people to check only boat name, registration
(name and country; emergency
contact and address only available to proper authorities and not online). I am not happy about that much information on the web, but it doesn't quite rank as "a good deal of personal information" in my books
. Note, too, that the callsign is given to the fixed installation
and not to the operator.
For those interested, the web page for Callsign lookup is at Particulars of Ship stations