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Old 09-19-2022, 11:30 AM   #1
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Lending assistance to other vessels

My wife and I were returning from Catalina yesterday when a May Day came through on 16 about a center console with 3 people aboard taking on water. A second boat in the area was talking to the CG and was able to get everyone aboard their boat, including one guy who was sitting on top of the capsized hull. A helicopter and rescue boat were on scene shortly after that.

This is the second time this Summer while we were on the water where a nearby recreational boat was able to help a fellow boater.

Two weeks ago, a boat in a mooring field took on water very rapidly at night and sunk killing one person. A nearby boater tried to dive under to retrieve her but was unsuccessful.

We have all witnessed these events while on the ocean so its nothing new, but they are good reminders what can happen.
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Old 09-19-2022, 11:58 AM   #2
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At home on our stretch of the Missouri VHF radios are almost never used, you rarely hear any transmissions at all on any channels, even when someone needs a tow for example. Cell phones rule. Then I remember the first time we chartered in the San Juans, the VHF was incredibly active in comparison and we heard a few distress calls those weeks. We were never close enough to have to decide whether to respond -- other boaters were always much closer -- but it's a sobering situation in busy waterways. Having sailed to Catalina a few times too, I sure wouldn't want to be in serious distress out there.
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Old 09-19-2022, 01:03 PM   #3
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At home on our stretch of the Missouri VHF radios are almost never used, you rarely hear any transmissions at all on any channels, even when someone needs a tow for example. Cell phones rule. Then I remember the first time we chartered in the San Juans, the VHF was incredibly active in comparison and we heard a few distress calls those weeks. We were never close enough to have to decide whether to respond -- other boaters were always much closer -- but it's a sobering situation in busy waterways. Having sailed to Catalina a few times too, I sure wouldn't want to be in serious distress out there.
Cell phones are a very poor substitute for a VHF radio. You can only contact one person at a time and you need to know their number.

The VHF radio sends out a message to anyone with a radio who is in range.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of boaters who haven't figured this out.
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Old 09-19-2022, 01:07 PM   #4
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Cell phones are a very poor substitute for a VHF radio. You can only contact one person at a time and you need to know their number.

The VHF radio sends out a message to anyone with a radio who is in range.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of boaters who haven't figured this out.
If a boater sends out a VHF call in South Dakota does it make a sound?
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Old 09-19-2022, 01:17 PM   #5
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Some can only relate to their own experiences.
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Old 09-19-2022, 01:59 PM   #6
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We prerecord the phone numbers of all the CG stations that maybe called upon. Even when on passage those that would be nearest such as PR and Bermuda. Satphones are worthwhile. Even if they can’t respond they are more likely to find someone could can divert. I think a conversation works better then texting on a Go or such device. Even a global star handheld Satphone is a boon.

Have witnessed fire and sinkings. The sinking was a commercial fish boat of ~65’ who broke his back at the fish hold. Was in in the middle of the gulf of Maine. We served as standby serving to relay messages as the fish boat only had a handheld working. Stayed there (on CG instructions) until CG was there.
Another event was near Jamestown bridge. There were souls in the water. Small center consoles got them. We didn’t need to be involved. It burnt to the waterline with striking rapidity and a amazing amount of smoke.
Another event was on a rally. At organizers request diversion. Boat had mechanical issues but functional. We buddy boated within VHF range to be able to lead a hand if necessary. Fortunately it was not as they sorted themselves out eventually. Was raised initially by SSB net of the the rally.
I think
Cellphone
Satphone
Epirb (would deploy it if another boat could not and was in extremis-then standby/assist until CG or SAR showed up if outside VHF/cellphone range).
Lots to think about. Fe v grp. MOM recovery but equally important how to transfer people boat to boat. Approaching a burning vessel.
For the fish boat we launched the dinghy and tied together our longest lines figuring to use that if necessary. It was bumpy so couldn’t safely put the engine on it. Fortunately wasn’t needed. SAR does truly amazing work. Hats off to them.
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Old 09-19-2022, 03:04 PM   #7
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VHF transmission is only line of site and the wattage of transmission does impact.
I think the distance is the square root of each antenna height above the water line to send and retrieve. Example, if 2 boats have antennas 9' feet above the water they can talk to each other at 6 miles apart. Each can send a 3 mile signal.
That being said, I do have 3 VHF's on board, each with a different battery source and different gain on the antennas.
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Old 09-19-2022, 03:17 PM   #8
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Having transitioned from a stout twin-engined Grand Banks to a single engine 30-foot pilot with unknown but suspected weak cleat attachments, I find myself far less likely to engage in towing anything more than a center console boat. In the trawler, I'd tackle anything including putting vessels on the hip to enter marinas and "sling" them into their slips, but NOT in this boat. With no dinghy, I am also constrained in rescue - the victims will have to swim to me since I am not going alongside burning boats or boats in a seaway.
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Old 09-19-2022, 03:20 PM   #9
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If a boater sends out a VHF call in South Dakota does it make a sound?
Although it is illegal, I have been told, in the large wheat or corn growing areas, they use VHF between equip and the house.
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Old 09-19-2022, 03:30 PM   #10
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Just curious how many folks have set up their DSC and know how to use it?
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Old 09-19-2022, 03:44 PM   #11
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Just curious how many folks have set up their DSC and know how to use it?
Count me in for that one. Both VHFs have internal GPS, DSC configured, etc. I've never actually used any of the DSC features (beyond receiving an occasional alert), but it's there and usable.
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Old 09-19-2022, 04:07 PM   #12
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Got to get a MMSI number and program it into the VHF radio for DSC stuff to work.
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Old 09-19-2022, 04:13 PM   #13
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Although it is illegal, I have been told, in the large wheat or corn growing areas, they use VHF between equip and the house.
Wouldn't surprise me. I'm reluctant to criticize anybody on our stretch of the Missouri for preferring cell phones for distress calls because if anybody did do a VHF distress call, nobody would be listening. I know when our boys go off in the dinghy we give them the handheld VHF to stay in touch. Out of 450 boats in our marina, and another marina on the Nebraska side, and all the trailer boats, our mothership and the dinghy are usually the only two boats with VHF radios on (I assume). The yacht club does use VHF for the Saturday morning races, but barely.

P.S. to Gdavid, now that's hilarious. Snorted coffee out my nose when I read that one.
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Old 09-19-2022, 04:37 PM   #14
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Although it is illegal, I have been told, in the large wheat or corn growing areas, they use VHF between equip and the house.
There are plenty of ground based VHF radio systems. If you broadcast over a certain wattage, yes you need a license, but it is not hard to get.

I have worked in a couple of places where vhf radios were something I had to carry around.
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Old 09-19-2022, 04:58 PM   #15
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Over the 30 years we were active in the area CG Aux we towed in literally hundreds of boats. On the lakes in Arizona there were no other resources at that time. We have towed as many as 3 boats at one time. We have put boats in a side tow and put them on their trailers. We even towed a sunken truck one time. I make sure that the cleats are through bolted and have backing plates on them and even then we always towed slowly. We have had tows that lasted 6 hours on Lake Powell. We also have all the CG stations programmed in our cell phones for the local area. We have PLBs on our PFDs. But we look at VHF as the primary source of help.
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Old 09-19-2022, 05:17 PM   #16
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I am a coxswain for the local SAR and am surprised how few people have an MMSI number and have set up the DSC on their VHF radios.

If you haven’t already done so, then please take a few moments to register for your free MMSI

Your MMSI is international, so you can apply for one free of charge on the U.K. website even with an international address.

Once you have it then you just need to enter it into your vhf device. Be careful, if you make a mistake entering the number you may need assistance from the manufacturer to change it.

https://www.ofcom.org.uk/manage-your...es/ships-radio

It could save your life.
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Old 09-19-2022, 05:19 PM   #17
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Greetings,
I've heard several calls for assistance but have never been close enough? to help. I add the question mark because that's one of my "beefs". Any calls I've heard go something like this..."Any vessels in the vicinity of Snob's Point, watch for...". I've never heard Lat/Long given and I'm usually NOT local. If Snob's Point isn't on a chart somewhere, I have no idea if I can help or not. Local names don't help. Perhaps "4 miles east of XXX (some named and very well known location)." or near MM 73, perhaps.
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Old 09-19-2022, 05:33 PM   #18
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Count me in for that one. Both VHFs have internal GPS, DSC configured, etc. I've never actually used any of the DSC features (beyond receiving an occasional alert), but it's there and usable.
Me too. Both main and portable vhf. Also have epirb.
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Old 09-19-2022, 05:37 PM   #19
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Greetings,
I've heard several calls for assistance but have never been close enough? to help. I add the question mark because that's one of my "beefs". Any calls I've heard go something like this..."Any vessels in the vicinity of Snob's Point, watch for...". I've never heard Lat/Long given and I'm usually NOT local. If Snob's Point isn't on a chart somewhere, I have no idea if I can help or not. Local names don't help. Perhaps "4 miles east of XXX (some named and very well known location)." or near MM 73, perhaps.

Interesting. In many places the complaint is that they only give lat/lon and not any reference location. Locally, the USCG is pretty good about it. They usually give positions as "xx miles northeast of YYY in position lat/lon". That way anyone local has a pretty quick idea of whether they're close or not and then you can grab the exact position if you are.
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Old 09-19-2022, 06:29 PM   #20
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Interesting. In many places the complaint is that they only give lat/lon and not any reference location. Locally, the USCG is pretty good about it. They usually give positions as "xx miles northeast of YYY in position lat/lon". That way anyone local has a pretty quick idea of whether they're close or not and then you can grab the exact position if you are.
The USCG broadcast VHF on extremely strong transmitters. When running the pacific coast, a lat/long location could be 100s of miles away. Difficult to know when when something is near or far unless you manage to write down the coordinates and enter into plotter or on chart. Some reference to geography would be helpful to at least triage location.

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