Please select your home edition
Edition
Mackay Boats

Get your DSC-equipped VHF hooked up right

by BoatUS on 29 Oct 2013
Can you find the boat? Boats equipped with DSC VHF radios can give rescuers precise location information - but only if it’s connected to a GPS/chartplotter Bruce Nason/U.S. Coast Guard photo http://www.uscg.mil/
This time of year, life gets a bit slower for recreational boaters, perhaps freeing up time to fix the important things like having a fully working VHF radio on board. If you have a basic VHF, checking the connections for corrosion, inspecting the antenna and doing a simple radio check may be all that it takes. But if you have a newer Digital Selective Calling (DSC) VHF, this is the time to ensure its life-saving, one-button mayday feature is fully working. This allows anyone on the boat to simply press a button that gives rescuers near pinpoint location and identification information, greatly speeding rescue times.

However, the DSC functions on new radios only work if a Maritime Mobile Service Identity number (MMSI) has been entered into the radio. Further, the US Coast Guard reports that approximately 80% of the one-button distress calls from DSC VHF radios it gets each year do not contain vessel position information, meaning that life savers cannot effectively respond. Boaters can take two simple steps to make sure their DSC radio will provide rescuers with the information they need, according to Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS):

Number One: Connect the DSC-VHF to the GPS/Chartplotter. While some of the newest handheld DSC VHF radios have GPS built in, most fixed-mount DSC VHF radios must be connected to an external chartplotter in order to broadcast location information. This single, critical wired connection increases your margin of safety a thousand times over by allowing rescuers to find you quickly.

While there have been challenges with a uniform, industry-wide plug-in connector to make it easy for do-it-yourselfers, having both the radio and chartplotter of the same brand and each manufactured within several years of each other makes it easier. Taking the time to open up both operating manuals is also a good first step - you likely won't need to know how to read a wiring diagram as instructions are in plain text. Most electronics manufacturers also have customer support phone lines ready to help. And if you're still having trouble? Get a professional electronics installer to do the job. After all, aren't your family's lives worth a relatively small $150 service fee to have a pro do it right? To find one near you, ask at your West Marine store, local marine electronics retailer, marina or go online here.

Number Two: Get a free Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number that identifies your boat. The MMSI number is a bit like a phone number for your boat. Having one helps verify an emergency, identifies your boat to rescuers, and cuts down on the instances of false alarms, ensuring that critical rescue resources will be available when you need them. BoatUS offers MMSI numbers for boaters (who remain in US waters) for free here, along with an easy to download tutorial on DSC VHF radios and how this drastically improved technology is saving lives as a part of the US Coast Guard's Rescue 21 System. If you boat in international waters such as Mexico, Canada, Caribbean or abroad, you'll need to get your MMSI from the FCC at: http://wireless.fcc.gov/uls.
RS Sailing 660x82Zhik AkzoNobelb 660x82PredictWind.com

Related Articles

High water on the great lakes – Boom or bust for boaters?
Boaters can find that deeper water under the keel may open a range of cruising, fishing or sailing grounds to navigation With Great Lakes water levels on the rise and expected to continue to increase into summer, recreational boaters could find that deeper water under the keel may open a whole new range of cruising, fishing or sailing grounds to navigation.
Posted on 19 May
BoatUS 2017 top 10 list of boat names and their meanings
BoatUS, issued its 2017 Top Ten Boat Names list today, a tradition dating back a quarter decade. The nation’s largest recreational boating advocacy, services and safety group, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS), issued its 2017 Top Ten Boat Names list today, a tradition dating back a quarter decade. The names come from tallying up requests for boat names to the BoatUS Graphics service, and each reveal much about the personality of the vessel’s owner.
Posted on 18 May
Brian McGinnis takes Mid-Atlantic Regional Sunfish Championship
Old Point Comfort Yacht Club hosted a multi-state field for the first 2017 Mid-Atlantic Regional Sunfish Championship. Old Point Comfort Yacht Club hosted a multi-state field for the first 2017 Mid-Atlantic Regional Sunfish Championship. The race was a qualifier for the 2018 Sunfish Worlds. Winds for the weekend tended toward 20 knots or more for Saturday where only four of the nine boats entered finished the five races run on Saturday.
Posted on 9 May
North Technology buys Hall Spars from receivership
North Technology Group (NTG) has announced the acquisition of the Hall Spars business out of receivership. North Technology Group (NTG) has announced the acquisition of the Hall Spars business out of receivership. The Hall Spars US parent company announced in early 2017 that it would be closing the doors due to well publicized financial challenges. The acquisition covers Auckland and Brekens and Hall Spars will re-establish in Rhode Island
Posted on 9 May
Coast Guard finds Aids-to-Navigation shot and sunk near Block Island
Crew of Coast Guard Cutter Ida Lewis discovered a buoy sunk in water with bullet holes, near Block Island, Rhode Island. The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Ida Lewis discovered a buoy sunk in the water with bullet holes, Monday, near Block Island, Rhode Island. The crew was conducting regular aids-to-navigation maintenance when they approached Clay Head buoy number 7 and found it submerged. The crew raised the 12,000-pound buoy and found 20 bullet holes in it.
Posted on 28 Apr
A Few Rays - When you think of sunscreen as a filter....
If a sunscreen is a filter of UV rays, how much is enough? If a sunscreen is a filter of UV rays, how much is enough? Where the skin is exposed and a sunscreen is working for you, it is filtering UV rays. Some of those rays always get through. The percentage of the high energy UVB rays (said to cause sunburn) that get through to cells in the skin can be determined by the claimed SPF of the product you are using.
Posted on 25 Apr
Boat International partners with NZ Millennium Cup 2018
Boat International partners with NZ Millennium Cup 2018 to celebrate superyacht regatta’s tenth anniversary Boat International Media, the global authority on superyachts and the luxury lifestyle that goes with them, has today announced that it will be partnering with the NZ Millennium Cup superyacht regatta, to be held in New Zealand’s Bay of Islands in January 2018.
Posted on 22 Apr
A Few Rays - What is Broad Spectrum Protection?
What is Broad Spectrum sunscreen? Ultraviolet rays only make up a small proportion of all of the sun’s rays. What is Broad Spectrum sunscreen? Ultraviolet rays (UVA, UVB and UVC) only make up a small proportion of all of the sun’s rays. UVA and UVB sun-rays are however the biggest contributors to skin damage from sun.
Posted on 19 Apr
Coast Guard urges boating safety common sense
Coast Guard reminds mariners that as the air temperature is warming the water temperatures are still dangerously cold The Coast Guard is reminding mariners Friday that as the air temperature is warming the water temperatures are still dangerously cold. With the rise in air temperature, the number of boaters, paddle craft users, and water enthusiasts taking to water activities also rises.
Posted on 15 Apr
A very difficult day - Got fuel to Cape Town
Well after my dismasting I have spent the last two days motoring North towards Cape Town trying to collect myself Well after my dismasting I have spent the last two days motoring North towards Cape Town trying to collect myself and to intercept Hong Kong container ship M/V Far Eastern Mercury who had been diverted by Maritime Rescue Coordination Center Cape Town (MRCC Cape Town) when I had issued a Pan-Pan during my dismasting.
Posted on 8 Apr