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Old 26-05-2020, 07:59   #1
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Do I need formal VFH training or SRC certificate?

My boating experience is all on lakes in the US, mostly motorboats, but some sailing (ASA 101). I'm venturing out to a liveaboard ASA 103/104 course in the Caribbean next year. I'm unclear on the VHF radio situation.

I read about the Short Range Certificate (SRC) but it seems to be a RYA thing. Do I need formal training and/or a certificate to use the VHF radio for my ASA 103/104 training? Or to charter my own boat in the future? I know a few basics, like monitoring channel 16 and how to radio distress, but that's about it.

If I could benefit from training any advice on how to proceed, ideally online given the current situation? I see some online RYA trainings (but they seem to require an in-person exam) and I saw that Boat US has a $30 online training but it seems a lot less rigorous (2 hrs vs 8 hrs).
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Old 26-05-2020, 08:48   #2
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Re: Do I need formal VFH training or SRC certificate?

I know RYA can be a bit more anal retentive than most training (and that's a good thing) but 8 HOURS on how to use a VHF???? Really? That seems.... excessive. Wildly so even.

In the USA (if you are on a US flagged boat) you do not need training of any kind or any license to operate a marine band VHF. Foreign flagged vessels would require a license from their home country, subject to what ever their home country rules are.

It IS a good thing if you learn basic radio operating procedures and etiquette.
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Old 26-05-2020, 09:12   #3
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Re: Do I need formal VFH training or SRC certificate?

We took the 4 hour Cdn Power Squadron VHF course, and wrote the test for the Canadian Restricted Marine Radio Operator's card with DSC endorsement. It's a formal requirement up here, though I have never heard of anyone being prosecuted for not having it. Our boating area is quite busy, with lots of radio traffic. It's fairly orderly, most people seem to have picked up acceptable radio procedure, and the Cdn Coast Guard manages maydays, and swiftly jumps on any inappropriate use of CH16.

We did a charter in the BVIs last year, and I cannot even recall whether we monitored CH16 or not . The base issued us a cellphone....

I would say - take the Boat US or a similar short course, so that you've been shown the basics and have a better understanding of proper radio use for your home waters. It's one less thing to learn when you do your ASA 103/104 course.
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Old 26-05-2020, 09:24   #4
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Re: Do I need formal VFH training or SRC certificate?

Great advice so far, thank you!
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Old 26-05-2020, 09:49   #5
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Re: Do I need formal VFH training or SRC certificate?

Thankfully here in the land of not over regulated you require no license, and I pray it stays that way. USA baby!!
You want to know how to communicate on a VHF ? simply listen. Aim to emulate the coast guard.
Then write yourself a piece of paper saying you have completed a course in common sense VHF operation.
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Old 26-05-2020, 10:09   #6
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Re: Do I need formal VFH training or SRC certificate?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Allied39 View Post
Thankfully here in the land of not over regulated you require no license, and I pray it stays that way. USA baby!!
You want to know how to communicate on a VHF ? simply listen. Aim to emulate the coast guard.
Then write yourself a piece of paper saying you have completed a course in common sense VHF operation.

In my opinion, the coast guard talks way to fast. Often unintelligible. I know they want to minimize airtime but none of that works when you literally cannot make out half of what they say. In fairness, not all coast guard broadcasts are crap.
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Old 26-05-2020, 10:10   #7
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Re: Do I need formal VFH training or SRC certificate?

The only requisite for use of a VHF is the ability to talk clearly. Guess someone has figured out a marketing strategy which convinces some that there is any value in paying them to learn that.
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Old 26-05-2020, 10:25   #8
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Re: Do I need formal VFH training or SRC certificate?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SVHarmonie View Post
I know RYA can be a bit more anal retentive than most training (and that's a good thing) but 8 HOURS on how to use a VHF???? Really? That seems.... excessive. Wildly so even.
The RYA one day course is designed for a classroom full of people rather than one to one tuition. It's also aimed at those who have never spoken on a VHF and may be 'mike shy'.

I have done it twice, second time because my son was doing it, so went along. The difference between 1992 and 2010 was things like DCS and the use of MMSI.

I think its about right to ensure students finish the day with lots of practise and the confidence to use a VHF,

Pete
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Old 26-05-2020, 10:35   #9
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Re: Do I need formal VFH training or SRC certificate?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kirkbauer View Post
My boating experience is all on lakes in the US, mostly motorboats, but some sailing (ASA 101). I'm venturing out to a liveaboard ASA 103/104 course in the Caribbean next year. I'm unclear on the VHF radio situation.

I read about the Short Range Certificate (SRC) but it seems to be a RYA thing. Do I need formal training and/or a certificate to use the VHF radio for my ASA 103/104 training? Or to charter my own boat in the future? I know a few basics, like monitoring channel 16 and how to radio distress, but that's about it.

If I could benefit from training any advice on how to proceed, ideally online given the current situation? I see some online RYA trainings (but they seem to require an in-person exam) and I saw that Boat US has a $30 online training but it seems a lot less rigorous (2 hrs vs 8 hrs).
For travel to foreign countries, your legally required to have at least a Restricted Radiotelephone Operators license and a Ship's Station SA (recreational) VF license. See FCC site. That process (the Ship's Station license) is also how you get your VHF callsign, your international MMSI, and a few others.

All that's a treaty thing. Whether other governments care or not is up to them. And whether you do all that also depends on your own attitude toward law; it's not much enforced here within the U.S. And there are likely some quirks here and there if you're chartering instead of traveling on your own boat.

The BoatUS course would likely be quite sufficient. FCC actually doesn't require any training at all... but you'd benefit by having a clue.

-Chris
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Old 26-05-2020, 12:44   #10
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Re: Do I need formal VFH training or SRC certificate?

Kirk,
Good for you, for asking these questions!
And, fyi, be assured that this isn't too big of an issue...(especially the issue of what to do on charter)
Quote:
Originally Posted by kirkbauer View Post
My boating experience is all on lakes in the US, mostly motorboats, but some sailing (ASA 101). I'm venturing out to a liveaboard ASA 103/104 course in the Caribbean next year. I'm unclear on the VHF radio situation.

I read about the Short Range Certificate (SRC) but it seems to be a RYA thing. Do I need formal training and/or a certificate to use the VHF radio for my ASA 103/104 training? Or to charter my own boat in the future? I know a few basics, like monitoring channel 16 and how to radio distress, but that's about it.

If I could benefit from training any advice on how to proceed, ideally online given the current situation? I see some online RYA trainings (but they seem to require an in-person exam) and I saw that Boat US has a $30 online training but it seems a lot less rigorous (2 hrs vs 8 hrs).
So...
You ask two different questions:
1---what license / certificate do you need?
2---how do you use the radio / how to find a course teaching you how to use the VHF radio?


Here are the answers to #1:

{Of course, in the UK you would need a SRC for marine VHF radio use, and I believe the EU, and NZ, etc. have similar regs....but...}

1) For you, the short answer is:
a) For a US citizen using a VHF Marine radio on a US-flagged pleasure vessel, in US waters, then no license is legally needed, no operators license is needed for you, nor is a station license required for the vessel.
But...


b) But, for US-flagged vessels in international waters, and/or territorial waters of other nations, and/or US-flagged vessels making radio contact with vessels / shore stations of other nations, then yes this US-flagged vessel does legally need a maritime mobile ship's station license (issued by the FCC, and gives the vessel its radio callsign and MMSI #), and the radio operator (you) needs a restricted radio operators license....
FYI, in the US, the FCC charges $60, and issues the "restricted radio operators license" for life...and the "ship's station license" costs $220, and is good for 10 years...


c) As for what to do on a charter? That's an easy one, 'cuz there is little chance that any charter company will adhere to these laws/rules, not the least of which is (probably) because the charter company's license covers their charter customers....
So, on a charter, no worries mate...




2) Now as for "how to use the VHF radio" / "where to find a course that teaches you how to use the VHF radio"? This is actually darn easy (and FREE!) and won't take you any more than one hour (probably only about 20 to 30 minutes)!

There are free videos available (although most are filled with misinformation, and incorrect procedures....heck there is even an old video of a USCG Lt. spouting off totally false/inaccurate DSC info)....so, I will include a link here to videos that are accurate (and hopefully useful)...see below!

a) First off, no technical stuff (not yet anyway)....we're going to assume that the boat you're on has a properly working VHF radio (and there are no issues with licensing / certificates)....


b) Hold the microphone close to your mouth, usually 1" away (2" at most)....and talk in a clear, fairly loud, speaking voice....(do NOT shout, ever!! and do NOT whisper!!)....if out in the wind, try to keep the wind away from the microphone, and keep your mouth very close to the mic (no more than 1" away).

And, fyi, take not that the "microphone" that your talking into is really a very small little element (about the size of a grain of rice), and not the whole thing you're holding in your hand....so, have a look at the mic and you'll usually see a small slot or opening that is not the whole mic....not too important for casual / occasional operating, but in serious or emergency situations, knowing what is what, can be important...


c) Use channel 16 only to call another vessel or coast station, then move quickly to another channel....and when calling another vessel or coast station, put their name first and then identify your vessel....

[VHF Marine Calling examples:

1--- the more formal way is: "Sailing vessel 'Voyager', sailing vessel 'Voyager'? This is sailing vessel 'Annie Laurie', 'Annie Laurie'."


2--- the informal way (and most common way) is: "Voyager, Voyager? Annie Laurie." (and if you get no response in 30 to 60 seconds, repeat this call....and if then no response, simply transmit "Annie Laurie, clear.")


3--- of course, the "official way" is: "Sailing vessel 'Voyager', sailing vessel 'Voyager'? This is sailing vessel 'Annie Laurie', sailing vessel 'Annie Laurie', Whiskey Delta Bravo Six Nine Two Seven, do you copy?" (but, except for those standing for an exam, I've never heard any use this official form, on VHF marine radio.)

FYI, of course on HF (SSB) I always make the first call using the "official way" (#3), and any subsequent calls using the most common / informal way (#2)....
But on VHF, it's almost always the "informal way" (#2)

Hope these examples help?]


d) As for finding courses that can teach you how to use the VHF radio...yes, there are courses...but, if you have some common sense and are reasonably intelligent (both of which appear to be true), then just spend 25 minutes watching a few videos, and re-read what I wrote here above, and you should be good-to-go, at least you'll be better trained than 95% of other US boaters!

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLnN6ygtZ3h2m-IejYg7J6QugtO2epizxF

Please understand that this Playlist is mostly about DSC and specifically VHF-DSC....but, video #2 in this playlist, and my basic instructions above, should get you ahead of 95% of your fellow US boaters and probably ahead of 99% of your fellow charterers....
(watch video #2 first, then watch the whole playlist....the whole thing will take you less than 30 minutes!)




Fyi, my first use of "marine radio" was as a kid in the 1960's, with the old 2mhz AM, in Bahamas and S. Florida....then in early/mid 70's HF-SSB radio and ham radio....and in addition to studying and teaching on subjects like radiowave propagation, antenna system design and construction, for more than 45 years, I'm also an experienced ocean sailor....
Not bragging here, just letting you know where this info / advice / training is coming from...


I do hope this helps....if not, please ask for some additional help....and remember, it was FREE and took you less than 30 minutes of your time...all-in, pretty damn good, yes?

fair winds.

John
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Old 26-05-2020, 13:07   #11
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Re: Do I need formal VFH training or SRC certificate?

Thank you so much, I'll definitely watch all of those videos. I kind of assumed I could figure it out on the fly, but I didn't want to be arrogant since I don't know what I don't know. I already took an online training that I found and I'm sure after watching those videos and getting on the water for a week I'll be pretty comfortable.
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Old 26-05-2020, 13:41   #12
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Re: Do I need formal VFH training or SRC certificate?

Kirk,

You're welcome!

And, fyi, I'm sorry I don't have more "basic" radio info in the videos. But, this is because Marine VHF Radio comms (VHF Voice Radio communications) is fairly easy-peasy, and can be taught remotely or from books/internet, where as Marine HF Voice communications is new to many and can be difficult to teach to laypersons that are more familiar with smart phones, rather than shortwave radio...

{And, of course, my forte is long range comms / HF comms}


Btw....DSC (Digital Selective Calling) is kinda like "text messaging" without a cell phone and away from cellular coverage....except that there are only 4 or 5 specific messages that you can send, as it is a way of "Calling", not really passing much info....'cuz after the DSC "call", you will talk to the other party on some specified channel to complete whatever info/message/questions/requests, etc. that you have...

VHF-DSC is short-range....typically out to 25 to 30 miles...
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...J6QugtO2epizxF




MF/HF-DSC is long-range....typically from 20 miles, out to 1000's of miles (world-wide)
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ga2zYuPozhUXZX



Maritime HF Communications ("SSB" Radio) in general....still used daily...
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...ZDo_Jk3NB_Bt1y



Just please use cation when looking at Youtube videos regarding Marine Radio!! 'Cuz there are a lot that are worse than ignorance... LOL

Hope this helps some more.

fair winds.

John


P.S. And, if you'd like some info on Offshore Weather...
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...zdjTJjHlChruyY



Or, want to watch some Offshore Sailing...
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...KgTCj15iyl6qoY




Or, are in need of some specific radio instructions, like the M-802 Instruction Videos
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...rC-8QKVyMb4tVr
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Old 26-05-2020, 15:02   #13
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Re: Do I need formal VFH training or SRC certificate?

Some time ago I put together a short tipsheet for marine VHF, but I'm wondering if I should expand it and make it prettier.

For example, here's a much longer guide from New Zealand (fairly thorough, except for DSC):
https://www.maritimenz.govt.nz/comme...o-Handbook.pdf

I don't know of an equivalent in the US; it seems that mainly there are bits and pieces of info (some incorrect, as John mentioned) that one must piece together.

As for chartering; the boat should come with the station license, so the "good for life" restricted radiotelephone card from the FCC should be plenty; just keep it tucked away in your papers for that odd case when someone's being particularly officious.
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Old 26-05-2020, 16:44   #14
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Re: Do I need formal VFH training or SRC certificate?

requiem,
Your tip sheet looks cool....and it is just what most boaters need!!
I think Kirk and others will be grateful!

And, thanks for reminding me of the NZ Maritime Radio Handbook! (I even have it stored in my docs folder, to send to people...so, I'm embarrassed I didn't think about it for Kirk)
Very good on you for posting it here!!

It's certainly better than what the USCG and BoatUS have available...
https://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=mtBoater

https://www.boatus.org/marine-communications/basics/





Just hope I didn't throw too much info at him, and freak him out...


Fair winds to you all.

John
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Old 29-05-2020, 13:50   #15
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Re: Do I need formal VFH training or SRC certificate?

Quote:
Originally Posted by SVHarmonie View Post
I know RYA can be a bit more anal retentive than most training (and that's a good thing) but 8 HOURS on how to use a VHF???? Really? That seems.... excessive. Wildly so even
Agree with everyone that you don't need a UK short range certificate if you're not on a UK flagged vessel and you are *way better* taking a course localised to your own regulatory area, but just a comment on the above: imho there is more than enough to fit into a day's course.

The RYA's "1 day" courses are rather less than 8 hours once lunch and tea breaks are accounted for. They also cover more than just radio operation, touching on GMDSS, epirbs etc. Per Pete7's reply it involves each student "having a go" of example equipment and practicing radio technique.

Mainly though I suggest that the "just rent 'convoy' and watch and learn from kris kristofferson" school of thought misses quite a lot of vital info, such as what channels are used for what purpose, simplex vs duplex, correct mayday procedure (Robert Redford clearly skipped the SRC), mayday relay, US vs International channel assignments, radio check procedure, all the prowords...DSC distress calls, individual calls, group calls, safety, urgency and the difference between an individual call to another vessel vs coastguard shore station.

I suspect the majority of UK boaters forget everything they learn about DSC other than "the red button" the moment they leave the classroom.
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