sail-world.com
 
 
News Home Photo Gallery Cruising Australia Cruising USA Cruising Canada Boats for Sale Sail-World Racing FishingBoating
Video Gallery Newsletters

 

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 ...

Sail-World Cruising News - local and the World











Springtime Greening: Boaters Tips for Earth Day by BoatUS Foundation/Sail-World Cruising,










British rescuers go for their own circumnavigation challenge by Derby Telegraph/Sail-World Cruising,


How sailors really do have a voice in the future of our oceans by Sandra Whitehouse, Sailors for the Sea,


Message-in-a-bottle record - 102 years by AFP/Sail-World Cruising,














Canadian solo sailor rescued north of Auckland by Sail-World Cruising round-up,
























Free online fuel spill course - how much do you know? by BoatUS Foundation/Sail-World Cruising,




Product of the Week: Chafe guards save lines from friction
Government sneaks through the 'Affordable Boat Act'
Japan's Antarctic whaling program harpooned
Yacht of the Week: Kokomo III - and she could be yours
Life-shattering event sends 'rookie' couple sailing the world
Mysteries of the seas, happening right now - missing, sunk, foul play
Sail Norway and Russia this summer - your own boat, or charter
Sunshine4kids' 'Fleet of Hope' sets off again
3,200-year-old boat found in Croatian waters
Product of the Week: the LineGrabber
Mediterranean Mooring - How to moor stern-to to a dock or quay
Canadian storm bomb threat - sailors advised: get off the water!
Carbon monoxide poisoning - is it possible on YOUR boat?
Sailing family condemmed for taking 3-year-old on circumnavigation
New contract-free plan for satellite communicator on your smart phone
Yacht of the Week: The Dashew creation: no sails, but eco-friendly
No laughing! Sailing mistakes I don't want to make
Multihull Solutions Phuket 2014 Regatta - new sponsorship
Destination: From Moscow Sea to the White Sea
Land sailors of India on adventure across the Rann
Jet stream gets fish in hot water   
Still no plans for e-Borders   
A Paint App to (almost) replace your marine store assistant   
Air warms but water slower - be careful, sailors, of hypothermia   
Volunteer Canadian rescue team homeless - any offers?   
Hilary Lister and Nashwa Al Kindi set a new trans-ocean record   
How to anchor and 'never utter a word'   
Non-pyrotechnic flares for my boat - Can I or can't I?   
Health benefits of sailing   
Cruising in the Maldives - some nuts and bolts   
ISAF Guide to Offshore Personal Safety for Racing and Cruising   
Halyard Tension - a video   
Winchrite - for lazy days or extra muscle-power   
Researcher examines 'current leaks' that may change the way you sail   
Paris off to attempt to circumnavigate the world again   
Need a tow from that helicopter? - watch the video and don't laugh   
Certain oil spill products shown to be ineffective and toxic + Video   
The Constrictor: a powerful 'Queen' of sailing knots!   
British leisure craft permitted to use red diesel in Belgian waters   
Boat painting - simple but best tips   


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  



















 
Our Advertisers are committed to our sport, please support them!
This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia Pty. Ltd and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.

Photographs are copyright by law. If you wish to use or buy a photograph you must contact the photographer directly (there is a hyperlink in most cases to their website, or do a Google search.) with your request.

Please do not contact Sail-World.com as we cannot give permission for use of other photographer’s images.

Only if the photographer named on the image is Sail-world.com, Powerboat-world.com, Marinebusiness-world.com or NZBoating-World.com.
Contact us .
Ph: +61 2 8006 1873 or complete our feedback form    Contact us .
   View our Privacy Policy.    [Go Home]     [  Banner Advertising Specification]    [Bot Archive ]

Customised news feeds -Marine Industry companies, Clubs and Associations have their own customised version of our news feed on their website.
Look_here_to_see_examples

X6XL NEW CRU NH