Stay off Ch16
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