Stay off Ch16

Practical Boat Owner - - Letters -

While I was cross­ing Lyme Bay this July, a fish­ing ves­sel was tak­ing on wa­ter and the coast­guard was mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion while other craft were com­ing to stand by in case the fish­ing ves­sel could not make port.

There was then a re­quest to Fal­mouth Coast­guard for a ra­dio check. That was just one of the in­ter­rup­tions to ca­su­alty work­ing on my short cruise.

Re­quest­ing a ra­dio check on Ch16 is akin to us­ing 999 to en­sure your mo­bile phone is work­ing. If a ra­dio check is deemed nec­es­sary, it should be ob­tained from a ma­rina or a fel­low boater, avoid­ing Ch16.

If nei­ther is avail­able, Na­tional Coast­watch will give ra­dio checks on re­quest (Ch65); check their web­site as hours vary at the dif­fer­ent sta­tions, but they cover most day­light hours.

Most ra­dios now have DSC and con­tact­ing an­other sta­tion di­rectly is as easy as mak­ing a call to one of your con­tacts on a mo­bile. It is also quicker as both sta­tions will switch di­rectly to the cho­sen work­ing chan­nel. Pro­gram your fre­quent con­tact MMSIs into your di­rec­tory and free up Ch16 for when it is re­ally needed.

Sev­eral times a day I would hear a coast­guard op­er­a­tor ask­ing a sta­tion to ‘Say again, you were over­spo­ken’. It could be a dis­tress call that is not re­ceived. The seas will be a lot safer for us all if we lis­ten more and talk less on Ch16. Len Hi­ley, Southamp­ton

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