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Old 07-12-2018, 04:20 PM   #1
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Washington State Ferries Don't Monitor Ch 16?

Interesting.....


Do Washington State ferries monitor channel 16? Sort of… | Three Sheets Northwest
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Old 07-12-2018, 05:01 PM   #2
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Nor do heavy commercial traffic including tugs and cruise ships.

For an explanation have a look at the Puget Sound Vessel Traffic Center User Manual. Download link here. Briefly, vessels required to participate in the VTS are not required to monitor VHF 16.

I will add to the article linked above by ASD that best to try VHF 13 before VHF 14. 13 is bridge to bridge and commonly used by commercial traffic around the world. 14 is for VTS use. Use 14 if you must. On either 13 or 14 be very brief.

A hint on how to be brief and what to expect. I'll conjure up a crossing situation with a big vessel and your yacht where you initiat the call.

<You>. "Hanjin Seven Hatcher this is the motor yacht Having Lots 'o fun". Notice the hail is not repeated 3 times

<7 hatcher>. It may be this brief "Lot's 'o fun, 7 hatcher". Again, no repetition and very short and brief.

Once comms are established continue to be brief. State what you need and or will do. Get confirmation. End the call. 13 and especially 14 are not a place for drawn out pleasantries. It's all business.

Another hint. When calling the 7 hatcher give them a hint where you are relative to them. "This is the motor yacht Having Lots 'o Fun 1/2 mile off your port bow"

It can be very challenging, AIS or no, trying to figure out which small vessel is calling from amongst many on a busiy summer day.
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Old 07-12-2018, 06:37 PM   #3
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It should also be noted that the Ship Pilots do not use AIS in the Puget Sound, they do everything by radar.

I have never had to communicate with any of the VTS traffic, I find them very predictable. Ferries are not as predictable but they are so fast that as long as I stay predictable they go right around me. Then again I don’t motor up the middle of the Eagle Harbor channel, I pick the shallow side.
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Old 07-12-2018, 07:29 PM   #4
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In BC, it is acceptable to hail the BC Ferries on the VTS channels, which vary depending the on the VTS Sector. Is it acceptable to hail the Washington ferries on the VTS channels or should the Bridge to Bridge Channel be used?
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Old 07-12-2018, 07:35 PM   #5
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It can be very challenging, AIS or no, trying to figure out which small vessel is calling from amongst many on a busiy summer day.

All good advice, including providing relative position info, even with AIS. I do find that the vast majority of commercial vessels with which I have occasion to communicate for safety reasons already know my position because of my AIS transmission.
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Old 07-12-2018, 10:47 PM   #6
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In BC, it is acceptable to hail the BC Ferries on the VTS channels, which vary depending the on the VTS Sector. Is it acceptable to hail the Washington ferries on the VTS channels or should the Bridge to Bridge Channel be used?
Start with Bridge to Bridge VHF 13. If no joy then try the VHF VTS channel. Do make sure you know the local VTS channel. The channel varies from region to region. In the Salish Sea 14, 5A, 11 and 74 are used depending upon where you are. It's very easy to learn the channels. Google is your friend, do your homework in advance.

One more thing, learn where the local pilot station is. Seward of the pilot station you will be dealing with the ship's crew. Very likely English is not their native language. Speak slowly and clearly.

Someone earlier in the thread stated the pilots don't use AIS. Nonsense. They make extensive use of it. AIS was originally conceived and developed for the shipping pilots.
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Old 07-13-2018, 12:00 AM   #7
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I was in a meeting with a member of the Puget Sound Pilots and he informed us that they do not look at B class AIS. His recommendation was have a good radar reflector as they did everything by radar. If there are any active pilots on here maybe they can clear up this issue.
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Old 07-13-2018, 12:27 AM   #8
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I have a question that maybe someone can answer. I was reading the VTS Puget Sound Users Manual and came across this:

User Definitions
VMRS (Vessel Movement Reporting System) Users:
-Every power-driven vessel of 40 meters (approximately 131 feet) or more in length, while navigating;
-Every commercial vessel engaged in towing 8 meters (approximately 26 feet) or more in length, while navigating;
-Every vessel certificated to carry 50 or more passengers for hire, when engaged in trade.

VTS (Vessel Traffic Service) Users:
-Every power-driven vessel of 20 meters (approximately 66 feet) or more in length, while navigating;
-Every vessel of 100 gross tons or more carrying 1 or more passengers for hire, while navigating;
-A dredge or floating plant.

https://homeport.uscg.mil/Lists/Cont...rman032503.pdf


Am I reading this correctly? Does this mean that a recreational vessel that is 66 feet or more is defined as a VTS user? If so, when I read the rest of the VTS Puget Sound Userís Manual it says that a VTS user is required to monitor the VTS frequency as well as channel 13. It also says that using a dual scan is not adequate for this, it requires separate fixed mounted radios for each channel.

Now, Iím not sure what the USCG means by ďlengthĒ in this context, but even a vessel such as Mahalo might be just over the 66í length mentioned.
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Old 07-13-2018, 12:31 AM   #9
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I was in a meeting with a member of the Puget Sound Pilots and he informed us that they do not look at B class AIS. His recommendation was have a good radar reflector as they did everything by radar. If there are any active pilots on here maybe they can clear up this issue.
Interesting. I recall first learning about what is now the AIS we all use being developed for use by pilots on the Mississippi River. But of course I can't find anything to support that recollection. Chalk it up to faulty old gray memory. In other words, I could be wrong.....

I've haven't had a chance to talk with the Puget Sound Pilots since the wide spread acceptance of AIS. Last year I had occasion to hire a pilot to bring me into Rotterdam Netherlands. He came aboard with a PC complete with up to date charts and real time data including AIS via wireless link. Far more detailed info that was available to the rest of us.

I can see the pilots ignoring Class B AIS. It's just too cluttered with nearly everyone now transmitting AIS.

And being old skool I understand their preference for radar. I put more faith in radar than chart plotter + AIS. I want it all, and use it all. But radar is my long trusted data source.
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Old 07-13-2018, 12:34 AM   #10
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Shame on them. Thought all with VHF radios were required to monitor 16. ... May I now avoid monitoring 16 too?
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Old 07-13-2018, 01:36 AM   #11
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Shame on them. Thought all with VHF radios were required to monitor 16. ... May I now avoid monitoring 16 too?


No you may not.

A while back I found the spot in the COLREGs but I donít recall now. Essentially all vessels are required to monitor 16 EXCEPT vessels that are also required to monitor channel 13 AND participate in the VTS system. They have to monitor 13 and must monitor the regional VTS frequency. The VTS frequency can be monitored in leu of channel 16. This is why the Washington State Ferries donít monitor 16.

I found the reference.

Radio Watchkeeping Regulations

In general, any vessel equipped with a VHF marine radiotelephone (whether voluntarily or required to) must maintain a watch on channel 16 (156.800 MHz) whenever the radiotelephone is not being used to communicate.

Source: FCC 47 CFR ßß 80.148, 80.310, NTIA Manual 8.2.29.6.c(2)(e), ITU RR 31.18, 52.244

In addition, every power-driven vessel of 20 meters or over in length or of 100 tons and upwards carrying one or more passengers for hire, or a towing vessel of 26 feet or over in length, as well, as every dredge and floating plant operating near a channel or fairway, must also maintain a watch on channel 13 (156.650 MHz) --channel 67 (156.375 MHz) if operating on the lower Mississippi River-- ; while navigating on U.S. waters (which include the territorial sea, internal waters that are subject to tidal influence, and, those not subject to tidal influence but that are used or are determined to be capable of being used for substantial interstate or foreign commerce). Sequential monitoring techniques (scanners) alone cannot be used to meet this requirement; two radios (including portable radios, i.e. handhelds) or one radio with two receivers, are required. These vessels must also maintain a watch on the designated Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) frequency, in lieu of maintaining watch on channel 16, while transiting within a VTS area. See 33 CFR ßß 2.36, 26, and 161; 47 CFR ßß 80.148, 80.308-309; NTIA: NTIA Manual Chapter 8.2.29.7.
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Old 07-13-2018, 02:01 AM   #12
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Most VHFs have dual watch for covering 2 channels, some can watch 3 channels.
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Old 07-13-2018, 02:36 AM   #13
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Most VHFs have dual watch for covering 2 channels, some can watch 3 channels.


I donít believe that dual watch will suffice for the regs. Each channel has to have its own receiver. I think the idea is that they want you to be able to monitor and use both channels at once.
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Old 07-13-2018, 06:56 AM   #14
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Most VHFs have dual watch for covering 2 channels, some can watch 3 channels.
mumbles... gotta go re-read the manual on my Icom...
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Old 07-13-2018, 08:28 AM   #15
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The regs very specifically state that a dual watch radio is not sufficient for a participating vessel. VTS is 14 south of Bush Point in Admiralty and 5a North of Bush Point and in the San Juanís. 13 was usually your best bet calling a participating vessel as you donít get the check in type calls directly to Seattle traffic there.

None of this is remotely new, so not sure the sailboaters in the article had much to complain about, especially since sailboaters donít bother answering on 16 in the first place.

We used to run exploration dives in the shipping lanes with approval from cg and VTS. We were very much required to be a participating vessel on those days that we conducted diving operations and our letters of deviation always specifically called out the requirement to be able to monitor two channels simultaneously. So I always ensured I had an extra radio to meet the requirement perfectly. If you are listening or conversing on one channel, itís absolutely critical that you donít miss something on the other. In Admiralty inlet where you might not see past 4 miles near a corner, missing a transmission means somebody could sneak up on you.

I would have died and gone to heaven to have AIS years ago to quickly get a vessels name, or see around a corner, which is why I originally invested in a nice set of 7x50 Fujinons and keep a log of approaching vessel names so you know who you are looking for.

Yes, if you are 66 feet, you are a required participant. Ever notice that many of the yachties of old were often 62-64 feet and just under the limit? Might want to look at non-marketing measurements to get under. Even if you do have to participate, itís not difficult. Traffic typically has their act together and it keeps you engaged anyway.
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Old 07-13-2018, 10:04 AM   #16
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The regs very specifically state that a dual watch radio is not sufficient for a participating vessel. VTS is 14 south of Bush Point in Admiralty and 5a North of Bush Point and in the San Juanís. 13 was usually your best bet calling a participating vessel as you donít get the check in type calls directly to Seattle traffic there.

None of this is remotely new, so not sure the sailboaters in the article had much to complain about, especially since sailboaters donít bother answering on 16 in the first place.

We used to run exploration dives in the shipping lanes with approval from cg and VTS. We were very much required to be a participating vessel on those days that we conducted diving operations and our letters of deviation always specifically called out the requirement to be able to monitor two channels simultaneously. So I always ensured I had an extra radio to meet the requirement perfectly. If you are listening or conversing on one channel, itís absolutely critical that you donít miss something on the other. In Admiralty inlet where you might not see past 4 miles near a corner, missing a transmission means somebody could sneak up on you.

I would have died and gone to heaven to have AIS years ago to quickly get a vessels name, or see around a corner, which is why I originally invested in a nice set of 7x50 Fujinons and keep a log of approaching vessel names so you know who you are looking for.

Yes, if you are 66 feet, you are a required participant. Ever notice that many of the yachties of old were often 62-64 feet and just under the limit? Might want to look at non-marketing measurements to get under. Even if you do have to participate, itís not difficult. Traffic typically has their act together and it keeps you engaged anyway.
Whether your required to participate or not, its smart to monitor to anticipate traffic that may or may not affect you.
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Old 07-13-2018, 10:07 AM   #17
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I was in a meeting with a member of the Puget Sound Pilots and he informed us that they do not look at B class AIS. His recommendation was have a good radar reflector as they did everything by radar. If there are any active pilots on here maybe they can clear up this issue.
You can best believe the pilots are looking at AIS info,especially Class A. Ask them if they plug into ships pilot plug....guarantee they do. Marine board of inquiry post accident would leave these fellas with a lot of liability. I don't believe it for a second...
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Old 07-14-2018, 09:07 AM   #18
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Agree on 13 being the best starting point, especially for WA ferries, that said I was surprised to learn 2 weeks ago while off of Sidney that B.C. ferries do not monitor 13, best to reach them on VTS or 16. I was surprised but that’s what the B.C. ferries officer who I was talking to said.
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Old 07-14-2018, 09:19 AM   #19
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Agree on 13 being the best starting point, especially for WA ferries, that said I was surprised to learn 2 weeks ago while off of Sidney that B.C. ferries do not monitor 13, best to reach them on VTS or 16. I was surprised but thatís what the B.C. ferries officer who I was talking to said.


Good information Arthur.

Both the WA and BC ferries are very fast. I find that I often donít judge speed/distance well with them due to their size. Yes, I do make use of my AIS information as well as hand bearing compass. I pretty much try to stay well clear so as not to interfere with them. There are times when a quick radio exchange can clear up any confusion on my part to ensure that Iím not impeding them.
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Old 07-14-2018, 08:23 PM   #20
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Totally agree, especially in the San Juan’s or Gulf islands with tight channels. I’ve found both B.C. and WA ferries to be super friendly.
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