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Old 01-05-2016, 11:14   #1
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Yacht Radio License

We recently purchased a Benetau 423 in France with a registered VHF radio. We are now registering the boat in Australia and want to know if we need to re-register the radio in Australia, or if we even need a radio license if it is an Australian registered boat. We are planning to sail in the Mediterranean.

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Old 01-05-2016, 13:33   #2
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Re: Yacht Radio License

One used to be required to be a registered ships station for VHF and have an operators certificate and this may still be the case, however.


VHF on small craft is pretty ubiquitous, it being used by all the volunteer marine rescue organizations, however I think the rules are pretty well ignored by the Australian boating public. So, whilst you may be required by regulations to do certain things it appears that the general public pretty well ignores the regulations.


If you are joining a yacht or boating club they sometimes have systems organised for club member usage.
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Old 01-05-2016, 14:09   #3
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Re: Yacht Radio License

I recently reflagged my yacht to Aussie. I registered my PLB with AMSA, got my MMSI from them and recorded that I have a VHF onboard, but there did not seemed to be anything indicating that the VHF must be registered.

As for the operators licence, I'm under the impression that the French authorities like to check things and maybe they will want to see the operator licence, or maybe not?

Anyway, you perhaps should consider having an Epirb onboard. You need to have the Epirb coded for Australia and programmed with an Aussie MMSI and then register it with AMSA. To get the MMSI you need a radio operator licence. Thankfully they don't require an Aussie licence, so my Swedish licence was fine.
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Old 01-05-2016, 14:33   #4
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Re: Yacht Radio License

The OP is planning to sail an Australian-registered yacht in the Mediterranean, not in Australia.

VHF is arguably the most important piece of safety equipment aboard a yacht. While VHF voice comms are very useful for calling other boats and shore stations in North America, Digital Selective Calling (DSC) is the most important mode in Europe, both for VHF and for HF comms.

What you need to focus on is equipping your boat with a VHF radio which has DSC capability AND which has an MMSI number programmed into it to identify the boat, its owner, etc. You therefore need to obtain an MMSI number, as noted in a few posts above, and program this number into your VHF radio and AIS if you have one. EPIRBs are different...they have their own ID number, and don't use MMSI numbers.

Under international regulations, to operate a two-way radio aboard a boat you need both an operators permit for anyone using the radio and a station license for the boat. Normally, these are issued by the country of registry.

Once properly licensed, you can use the radio anywhere in the world -- again, as per international treaty agreements by the ITU (a UN agency).

VHF/DSC radios are cheap these days, so if the boat doesn't already have one it would be prudent to purchase and install one. If the existing radio has DSC capability, it MAY be possible to reprogram it for the new MMSI number, though this can be a hassle since many radios don't allow for changing the MMSI number and the radio must be returned to the manufacturer. It may be cheaper just to buy a new radio.

Again, this is the primary means of safety communications aboard a boat and you shouldn't skimp here. Get the very best installation you can, and learn how to use it.

Bill
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Old 01-05-2016, 15:11   #5
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Re: Yacht Radio License

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Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
EPIRBs are different...they have their own ID number, and don't use MMSI numbers.
For international use, the EPIRBs require the MMSI to be programmed. Maybe for domestic use, in the US the EPIRBs are just coded like PLBs?
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Old 01-05-2016, 15:46   #6
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Re: Yacht Radio License

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Originally Posted by hoppy View Post
For international use, the EPIRBs require the MMSI to be programmed.
I've got an Australian purchased EPIRB. It is registered in my name with AMSA, but we don't have an MMSI and I am not based in Australia.
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Old 01-05-2016, 16:39   #7
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Re: Yacht Radio License

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Originally Posted by hoppy View Post
For international use, the EPIRBs require the MMSI to be programmed. Maybe for domestic use, in the US the EPIRBs are just coded like PLBs?
No, this is not right. EPIRBs DO NOT USE MMSI numbers. This is true for ALL EPIRBs, insofar as I know. There is no facility to plug one in.

Rather, when you apply for an MMSI number, you must fill in the unique ID number of any EPIRB that you have. Thus, the two are related in a database, but not in the EPIRB itself.

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Old 01-05-2016, 17:33   #8
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Re: Yacht Radio License

Thanks for the information, very useful.
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Old 01-05-2016, 23:37   #9
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Re: Yacht Radio License

Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
No, this is not right. EPIRBs DO NOT USE MMSI numbers. This is true for ALL EPIRBs, insofar as I know. There is no facility to plug one in.

Rather, when you apply for an MMSI number, you must fill in the unique ID number of any EPIRB that you have. Thus, the two are related in a database, but not in the EPIRB itself.

Bill
I've found that there are a few companies that state that the MMSI is required.

When I bought my EPIRB from the UK for use on my boat which was registered in Sweden, I needed it to be programmed for Sweden and they required my MMSI.

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Maybe there are several ways EPIRBs are coded. Perhaps units bought in Aus/US/UK etc come coded with a unique number for that country. But those that are bought outside don't have that unique number, so require the MMSI instead.




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Old 02-05-2016, 01:43   #10
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Re: Yacht Radio License

In Aus you register your Epirb with amsa on the Internet, I think. The Epirb should be recognised world wide but I wonder about the likelihood of action by some countries. Generally speaking most countries accept the rules of the country that the boat was registered in, if it's not compulsory to have a radio licence in Oz then that should be OK in Europe on an Oz boat. I have a licence which I have never been asked to show. When you register your boat, you can also apply for an MMSI number. This is the number that you use with with your VHF if it has emergency calling (DSC.) It might also have something to do with AIS.
I don't use vhf much in the Med. in France and Italy when we were about a 1km from a marina we'd call and make a request to moor. In Greece hardly at all. The only time I heard chatter was when a couple of moored boats were doing a quiz. It was on duplex and I only ever heard the questions. Someone told them to get off the emergency channel.
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Old 02-05-2016, 01:58   #11
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Re: Yacht Radio License

I think your MMSI is linked to your EPIRB by AMSA or whoever so that MRCC has it when TSHTF and YPTP.

It isn't programmed into the EPIRB as such...

I had a 406 EPIRB for years before I had an MMSI... only got the latter when I bought an AIS.

AFAIK

YMMV

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Old 02-05-2016, 03:08   #12
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Re: Yacht Radio License

To get back to the OP's question about a VHF licence, it is not required for a recreational vessel's equipment (commercial is required), but an operator's licence is required to use it. Once issued, there is no renewal required and no annual fee.

I have never heard of anyone being fined for using a VHF while unlicensed, but technically it is illegal to do so (emergencies excepted).

For the operator's licence, there is a short distance licence (VHF) or a long distance licence (HF and includes VHF).

From one of the the training sites I found this:

"Australia recognises other countries marine qualifications that are issued according to International Telecommunication Union (ITU) recommendations."

So presumably most countries would recognise an Australian licence to operate the radio, and vice versa. If you are not in Australia it may be a little difficult to obtain one.

As for the need for a vessel's equipment licence overseas, there may be countries that do require one, and you would be best to check local regualtions. However if the boat is compliant to Australian regualtions I would expect it should be accepted as a visiting boat.
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