Please select your home edition
Edition
Barz Optics - Melanin Lenses

Get your DSC-equipped VHF hooked up right

by BoatUS/Sail-World 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/
With summer approaching fast, it's time to make sure you have a VHF on board working to the maximum. 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 Coast Guards report that approximately 80% of the one-button distress calls from DSC VHF radios they get 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:

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.

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.

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 local marine electronics retailer, marina or go online and start searching for your nearest help.

In Australia; http://www.amsa.gov.au/mmsi/

In New Zealand: http://www.rsm.govt.nz/

Related Articles

Sailing in the Olympics beyond 2016 - A double Olympic medalist's view
Bruce Kendall takes a look at what he believes Sailing needs to do to survive beyond the 2016 Olympics. Gold and Bronze medalist and multiple world boardsailing/windsurfer champion, Bruce Kendall takes a look at what he believes Sailing needs to do to survive beyond the 2016 Olympics. A key driver is the signalled intention by the International Olympic Committee to select a basket of events that will be contested.
Posted today at 12:16 pm
From Olympic flag to Olympic Gold and maybe another
The Sydney Olympics was a Sailing double 470 Gold event for Australia. Having won the 420 World Championship in 2000, the feeder class to the 470, while still at school in Australia young Matt Belcher was given the honour of carrying the Olympic flag during the closing ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
Posted on 28 Apr
The Road to Rio now 99 days short
The Road to Rio 2016 still has a few curves, bumps and potholes for teams battling to win. The Road to Rio 2016 still has a few curves, bumps and potholes for teams battling to win in Hyeres, at some World championship events and Weymouth World Cup but for many crews: 'It's 106 miles to Chicago we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses.' Whoops wrong movie.
Posted on 28 Apr
America's Cup - Oracle Racing win in Court but with collateral damage
Oracle Racing have had another claim against them by a former crew member dismissed. Oracle Racing have had another claim against them by a former crew member dismissed. Mitchell focussed largely on the circumstances of the matter and introduced into the public arena some interesting documents to support his claims.
Posted on 23 Apr
An interview with Jake Beattie about the 2016 Race to Alaska
In 2014, Jake Beattie and a few friends envisioned the Race to Alaska. Now, it’s time this wild race’s second edition. In 2014, Jake Beattie-the executive director of the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend, Washington, and a few friends hatched the bold idea of a human-powered race to Ketchikan, Alaska, took flight. They decided that their human-powered race would start in Port Townsend, Washington and run to Ketchikan, by way of the inside passage between Vancouver Island and British Columbia.
Posted on 14 Apr
Children of the Internet, Rio and Hong Kong
I have four daughters, the youngest, who in her mid 20's is a true child of the Internet. I have four daughters, the youngest, who in her mid 20's is a true child of the Internet. The kind of conversations I have with her run along these lines.... In the olden days we did not have television until I left school and they had a thing called print magazines, that reported events between two weeks and four months after they happened. And her sceptical response... Hoh! Daddy, Hoh!
Posted on 14 Apr
Go fast girls - 49er FX sailors Paris Henken and Helena Scutt
Paris Henken and Helena Scutt will be representing the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics, which will be their first Olympiad. American’s Paris Henken (20) and Helena Scutt (23) recently won a berth to represent the USA at the Rio 2016 Olympics in the high-performance 49er FX skiff, a goal that the team has been working on for almost three years. While this is their first Games, writing them off as Olympic newbies would require ignoring their recent results and their strong teamwork.
Posted on 13 Apr
World Sailing Cup V3 - A Dead Rat in a Shoe or Spring Daffodils?
While a host of major sailing events go from strength to strength, the Sailing World Cup has very major issues. Last night my Irish better half was sitting beside me on the sofa watching an Australian version of the popular TV Cooking Program My Kitchen Rules on a tablet with her headphones while I was watching Diehard II for the seventeenth time (it’s a boy thing) on TV. She suddenly spluttered and laughed, took off her headphones and motioned for me to mute Diehard. (Seriously!!)
Posted on 9 Apr
Volvo Ocean Race appoints stadium racing pioneer as new CEO
Sail-World forecast the appointment of Mark Turner as Volvo Ocean Race CEO a month ago. We profiled Turner at that time. Sail-World forecast the appointment of Mark Turner as Volvo Ocean Race CEO a month ago. We profiled Turner at that time. Today his appointment has been confirmed.
Posted on 31 Mar
Large spectator fleet heading north for boat watching season
I’m absolutely not going to lay claim to the phrase, but it is insanely apt and hilarious all at the same time, however. I’m absolutely not going to lay claim to the phrase. It is insanely apt and hilarious, all at the same time, however. Well then, boat watching season is definitely upon us once more. The whales will soon be gathering again off the coast of Queensland to observe all manner of racing and cruising craft as they head North for a Winter in the sun.
Posted on 29 Mar
Schaefer 2016 660x82Southern Spars - 100Kilwell - 5