News Home Video Gallery Newsletters Photo Gallery Cruising Int

 

Sail-World.com : Low DSC connect rate:Sailor irresponsibility or technological failure?

Low DSC connect rate:Sailor irresponsibility or technological failure?

'Daria Blackwell'    .    Click Here to view large photo

Recently we published a story about how few yachts had their Digital Selective Calling (DSC) equipped VHF radio connected to their GPS so that their position would be recorded in an emergency. The tone of the article suggested that the low take-up was an indication of the irresponsibility of sailors, but responses to Sail-World after the article suggest that the situation is more complex than this.

Here Alex Blackwell, long time cruiser and co-author of 'Happy Hooking: The Art of Anchoring', tells their tale of attempting to make the system work on their Bowman 57 ketch, Aleria, during the upgrading of the boat:

DSC enabled VHF radio -  .. .  
One feature of our new radio we were really excited about was Digital Selective Calling or DSC, which literally lets you dial up another boat, or a bunch of boats, just like using a telephone and then switch them all to a pre-determined frequency. Of course we have tested this with friends once they figured out what their MMSI number was.

However, in real life it would seem that nobody uses it, as it is neither intuitive nor all that easy to use. No, on a day to day basis, in all the countries we have cruised to, it seems that everyone still hails another boat on channel 16 or a designated local hailing frequency. This includes the professionally crewed mega yachts and their sometimes even bigger support ships. Even they hail each other on 16 before moving their traffic elsewhere. The only report we have heard of boats actually using DSC was a small fleet transiting pirate infested waters, where secretly hailing your friends is a really good thing.

The other feature that sold us on this radio, was that we could 'easily' connect it to our NMEA compliant chart plotter to receive a GPS feed. Our position would thus automatically be transmitted should we ever have the need to activate the built in emergency DSC broadcast. The radio would also display our Lat & Lon on its screen which we thought would be very useful at the navigation station for our log recording.

It took a while, but in the end we managed to find and then convince the technicians at both of the manufacturers to sell us the special connectors we needed to hook them together. As we are proponents of backups for everything, we had also acquired a second, though simpler, VHF with DSC along with a second chart plotter, this time both from the same manufacturer.

By now we were at a dock in the Canary Islands and assembled our installation crew together. Two guys were computer whizzes, one was big into Ham radios and knew everything, while the fourth was actually a professional marine electronics installer – at least they said they were.

They all had a personal interest in coming. Besides the ulterior motive of accessing our fridge full of cold beer, they were all having difficulty connecting their own GPS to their DSC VHF radios – and we had two very representative combinations: one upscale setup with two different manufacturers, and one lower end setup with both units from the same manufacturer.

We spent that afternoon and evening pulling wires and hooking things up and eventually called it a night in frustration. Next morning we continued swapping wires, soldering, and changing settings on the radios and GPS units all to no avail. Emails were sent and responses scrutinized.

After a couple of weeks with boats departing across the pond and new experts arriving, we too set off for the Caribbean, where we spent seven glorious months cruising the islands, all the while swapping advice with other cruisers on how to make our radios work.

We just had to stop worrying about the DSC and the GPS.


Alex and Daria Blackwell have not stopped worrying of course, but is the relative difficulty of making the connection and/or registering to blame for the relatively low take-up of the technology? It would seem so by the number of emails that we received suggesting similar problems to those encountered by these experienced and hardy cruisers.

The other issue is, if the technology is so good, why are there not fully integrated systems? Why is it necessary to have to use one cable to bring the GPS signal from any compatible external devices to the radios at low baud, and to use another cable to take the AIS information from the radio to the compatible plotter at high baud? Why don't VHF radios come with an integrated GPS receiver?

These are all good questions asked in emails, but it does not shift the responsibility from boat owners to continue to achieve the necessary connections and registrations, while encouraging boffins to make them more trouble-free, less complex and, hopefully, integrated.

For those who would like more information about the installation, connection and registration of current systems, there is an excellent article by the Cruising Club of America suggested by 'Suddenly Alone' lecturer Ron Trossbach, which is USA centred, but the information is largely relevant no matter which is your sailing home country.

It also includes full details of the formats for making a distress call, and the format comes in an easily printable form which would be an excellent form to retain on your boat. To obtain it, click?nid=81751 here.


Daria Happy Hooking -  .. .  
About Alex and Daria Blackwell:
Alex Blackwell and his wife Daria are members of American Yacht Club in Rye, NY and Mayo Sailing Club, Ireland as well as the Irish Cruising Club (ICC) and the Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA). They are sailing the world in their Bowman 57 ketch, Aleria. You will find their book, 'Happy Hooking – The Art of Anchoring', available from Coastalboating.net and Amazon.com.




by Des Ryan

  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=81751

10:00 PM Sat 26 Mar 2011 GMT






Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.

Click for further information on
Practical

Related News Stories:

31 Jan 2014  Ten boat safety checks every skipper needs to make
05 Jan 2014  In-mast furling - is it the 'no-no' we've always believed?
13 Nov 2013  Product of the week: One Sailor MBS for single-handed docking
29 Oct 2013  Get your DSC-equipped VHF hooked up right
14 Oct 2013  Evolution Autopilot - top honours in Marine Electronics Awards
30 Sep 2013  Product of the Week: Safer and easier docking - SlideMoor
17 Sep 2013  Mountain bike torch great for tough sailing conditions
16 Sep 2013  Product of the Week: Drawer fridge for cool-keeping and accessibility
25 Aug 2013  Rig your own sailing boat? Yes, you can!
23 Aug 2013  Product of the Week: The LED ringed switch
MORE STORIES ...

Cruising USA









A case of crossed wires? A shocking situation! by Stuart Carruthers, RYA Cruising Manager,










Canal Boating in the Alsace with the Galley Guys by Greg Nicoll with John Armstrong,


World ARC fleet arrives in Darwin by World Cruising Club,






Where in the world are our strongest corals? by Hanny Rivera - Cohen's Lab,








Barnacle Busting by Neil and Ley Langford,


From Penguins to Polar Bears by Cherie Winner,




Polar research: Six priorities for Antarctic science by Mahlon C. Kennicutt II and colleagues,




NCI granted dedicated VHF Channel by National Coastwatch,


Positive news for cruising boats in Greece by The Cruising Association,




















Risks to penguin populations continues
ARC Baltic fleet head from Helsinki to Stockholm
Follow these tips when anchoring
Galley Guys meet the Spice Lady
North American Rally to the Caribbean - Get prepared to head south
If all else fails read the instructions!!
ARC Baltic fleet cruising and anchoring in the Finnish archipelago
Phuket Yacht Show: new kid on the block taking on PIMEX? *Feature
Vanuatu Customs making life easier for visiting cruising yachts
Baltic 4 Nations rally is now in full swing
Tropical Storm Bertha expected to become a typhoon
Flags at Sea, an infographic by John Tissott
Cruising lessons from ocean racers
Procedures set out for waterborne visitors to Vanuatu
17-year-old RNLI volunteer saves child in first rescue mission + Video
Teen names latest RNLI Shannon class lifeboat in Poole + Video
Fascinating opportunity with OceansWatch
Fake GPS signals detected when cruising the high seas
Our new Cruising Editor editor remembers his first offshore adventure
Blue Planet Odyssey - Jimmy Cornell playing catch up on North West Pa
World ARC 2014 reaches Australia   
Venezuelan Port Control lift recent port restrictions.   
Seismic survey ship operating north of Aruba and Curacao   
Predictwind helps you pick the best time to depart   
Watch this whale lift a Kayak clear out of the water   
World ARC reaches half-way point in Australia   
Northern Scotland: Voyage to Orkney and Shetland Isles (Part 2) *Feature   
Drowning or electric shock? What you need to know to help save a life   
Costa Concordia - the $2.25 billion salvage operation ready to begin   
Northern Scotland: Voyage to Orkney and Shetland Isles, more photos *Feature   
Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show - New location and attractions   
Long Island waters could become more taxing this summer   
4.8 million Legos all at sea   
Tranquil, colourful and funky, Genoa Bay is a must stop for West Coast *Feature   
Scientist pioneered tracer to reveal hidden ocean flows   
Sail-World 2.0 - the Beta version- Please take a look   
Dredging activity near corals can increase frequency of diseases   
World ARC heading out of the Pacific   
Understanding the Ocean's role in Greenland Glacier melt   
Desolation Sound added to Salish Sea Pilot free cruising guides   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News







Sail-World.com  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/FaceBook-icon.png  

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
XLXL WAS Cru USA
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT