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Old 06 September 2003, 14:44   #21
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Mr Manning

Might I remind you that the HM Coastguard are there to provide "Civil Maritime Search And Rescue". We take all the other stuff because we are there.

If you are made to wait when you dial 999 then that is something you should take up with BT or your local MP as they take the calls and then field them out to the relevent emergency service.

Maybe you would like us to just administer to the laws that are aplicable to us as an emergency service, in which case ring the met office for your weather, buy yourself a tide table and subscribe to the weekly notice to mariners so that your paper charts are all correct, make sure that your passage is logged out with your shore contact and log back in again where ever you have arrived.

I think the service that the general public recieves from the coastguard is amazing considering that we are the lowest grades in the civil service. We are responsible for the lives of thousands, yet we get paid less than the 16 year old girl in Tescos who's only responsiblity is to make sure they stack the baked beans in the correct order.

But you are forgetting the point of this thread in the first place.

We have a dedicated headset watch at the moment. Over the summer listening to every man and is sea dog from Holyhead to Dover, and trying to pick out the word "Falmouth" or "Help", or "Is anybody there?" because very, very few people can put out a correctly worded Mayday or Pan at the best of timers is nearly impossible. DSC GETS YOU NOTICED and in a distress gets it right every time.

Atutudes like yours will just add weight to the "Well sod them lets stop it now" lobby within the coastguard.
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Old 06 September 2003, 14:54   #22
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Also

You can test your DSC by making a routine call.

The method is laid down in the current issue of Air Waves, the magazine sent out by the Radiocommunicatiuons Agency. But just incase your license has lapsed without you noticing or you moved without telling them.

Simply place a routine call to a vessel / yacht club in your area if possible, if not then try the local Coastguard they are pleased to help, and then either say you are doing a test or if you are shy just ask for a weather forecast.

If it works on a routine call, then it works on a distress call. How many times have you practiced lately putting out a Mayday, what about the people on the boat with you. Might I suggest pressing a red button for 5 seconds is easier then remembering a full mayday.
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Old 06 September 2003, 15:06   #23
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David Manning

I have just seen that you are a Paramedic. Surely you of all people should understand the pressure that the emergency services are under these days.
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Old 06 September 2003, 16:51   #24
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Surely you of all people should understand the pressure that the emergency services are under these days.
OOOpps. somebody seems upset. And yes, I am aware of the pressures the emergency services face which for me is the main point. Why do they face such pressures? Usually because they're expected to take on all sorts of extra tasks to supposedly make them more 'cost effective' instead of concentrating on their real purpose. In my experience, these cost saving exercises end up being more expensive than providing a quality service in the first place. eg. NHS Direct.

And yes, I have lobbied various MP's about the shortage of calltakers in the emergency services but they would rather spend the money on a new jag for the Chief every two years

And no, I do not use the coastguard service for weather, tides, NTM's, radio checks and passage details which, as a boat operator, I consider my own responsibility to establish, not the coastguards. As I view the coastguard as the emergency service it is, the only time you will hear from me is when I am in the cack.

And thanks for the information about low pay for saving life. I know how you feel on that one.

And I have not forgotten the main point of the thread. DSC may get you noticed at the moment. But at the moment it is not universally used by the leisure sector. My concern is what will happen when the fleet sets out from Southampton water on a saturday morning in 2005 all wanting to do radio checks. And all those red buttons pressed in error by operators unfamiliar with the equipment. Will every alert be responded to if there is no subsequent voice contact? I will sit back and watch with interest but my own preference would be for a EPIRB and a skilled CG radio operator who I could impress with my well honed Mayday procedure.

I apologise if my attitude upsets you but after 8 years with the fire brigade and 26 years with the paramedic services, I always feel a little uneasy when I'm told 'this is the way forward'. This usually is management speak for 'this is going to go backwards but it's cheaper.

David Manning
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Old 06 September 2003, 17:03   #25
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Your own preferance for an Epirb may be very comendable, but when they were first introduced we recived about 10 false alerts per day.

As Falmouth has to recieve every one you can imagine the extra work load this required.

DSC on the other hand is a two means of communication that is immediately traceable due to the mmsi being given out after the set is registered.

Epirds have thier code on before sale so can and are frequently be unregistered making more work for everyone.

You cannot be alerted to others in distress or any safety information via an epirb, unless of course you have NAVTEX which is usually associated with EPIRBS, with them both been designed for the offshore user.

Also it may take up 90 mins I believe to get an acurate position for an epirb hit. With dsc it is given with the call and accurate to approx 30 meters (2.7nm with an epirb). So I know which one I will trust.

And finally I hope, we do not mind people passing TR's, and asking for weather and tidal info, hopefully most of the time we should not be doing anything else.

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Old 06 September 2003, 17:34   #26
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Quote:
Originally posted by gingercoastie
With dsc it is given with the call and accurate to approx 30 meters (2.7nm with an epirb).
Isn't this true only if your DSC is interfaced with a gps. Also how many casual boat users will be able/want to spend 500-600 for a decent DSC interfaced with a GPS. I admire your conviction but it still reeks of a staff/cost saving exercise to me with considerable cost being forced on the boating public who wish to comply with the new system. If the system turns out to be more effective and saves more life, then fair play, but I'll sit on the fence for a bit ta.

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Old 06 September 2003, 17:51   #27
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Surely "the answer" is to have more CG stations covering a smaller area of the coast, such that the current high standard of personal voice service can be maintained. Have not a number of stations been closed over the last decade or so to save money? I mean you are covering Holyhead to the Solent? Jeepers, creepers.
And probably far out into the Atlantic as well?

The alternative, imposed on us, is to make us all rush out and replace perfectly good radios with a more expensive set which many will find dificult and confusing to operate with the consequent problems. These will hit the CG service hard as they will have to face the attendant problems.
And what will happen when they start to manufacture and sell h/h VHF/DSC sets?
I forsee an increase in chaos and confusion (at both ends of the call link), coupled with a greater reluctance on the part of pleasure boat users in communicating in general with the official services and each other. Surely Maydays and Pan-Pans must only represent a fraction of 1% of Ch. 16 traffic?
I think you have answered my question, Alex. The service level (which is brilliant today) will drop.
I cant speak for David but I am certainly not having a go at you, you are our saviour and hero on the end of the line when we have a problem. Like sticking a "1" after the zero in all telephone numbers, and incomprehensively changing car registration plates, this decision smacks of yet another political decision not thought through properly.
I am going to bed now before I begin to sound even more like Alf Garnet!
Oh, and Alex, we really love you dearly, you know!
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Old 06 September 2003, 19:39   #28
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Not trying to get involved in any argument here, but I can see some distinct advantages to the DSC system. Ok, so some are pretty unlikely, but you never know. When things get technical to the degree a mayday is required, knowing bad luck a lot of unlikely things are just round the corner.

1. You find yourself in a real mayday situation. You discover you've just lost your voice for some reason. Bugger. Should have bought that DSC set! Unlikely I'll admit, but not impossible.

2. Things get technical so suddenly that you don't have time to do a proper mayday. You have just enough time to hold down the mayday button on a DSC set, if you had a DSC set that is...

There are 2 examples. Pretty extreme and unlikely between them, but not impossible. If you found yourself unable to send out a traditional mayday, yet would have been able to send a DSC mayday, you'll be kicking yourself in the arse for what could be your final few minutes.

And fine, DSC isn't a miracle cure for problems, nor is it a guaruntee that you'll get help, but I personally reckon it must give you a better chance over standard VHF.

Fine, it costs more money. Fine, there will still be SOME monitoring of Ch16, even if it is only from a speaker rather than dedicated headset. So, if you want to save yourself a few quid, by all means go ahead, it's your choice. But you'll need to accept that you're taking your chances when you call in a mayday. Personally I'd prefer the peace of mind that DSC would offer me.

But, each to his own.

Matt
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Old 07 September 2003, 02:54   #29
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DSC

On top of the problems at the coastguard end the thing we are forgetting here is one of the main problem were ships who we are relaying our may day messages were getting our position wrong (Charles can speek 1st hand of this). With dsc they cant.

XM now do a great dsc unit for 199 and can be connected to a garmin gps 12 for 99. 300 is cheaper than most vhf were 2 years a go.
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Old 07 September 2003, 06:29   #30
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Yup.I can see that a Mayday with DSC is better. Specially if the set is linked to the GPS. But as I said before, these calls (which arguably are the ONLY ones that count) must comprise a fraction of 1% of radio traffic.
DSC sets. Well they are fiddly (try working them little buttons with gloves on), and try reading that tiny screen and scrolling down the nested menus on on open rib when the muck and bullets are flying!
But now that I know how busy the CG is and what huge responsibility that have for a vast area of ocean, I for one, will not henceforward be troubling them with my ("long" distance) passage plans. I used to when going say more than 200 miles in one leg, mainly cause I felt better believing that some one was looking out for me (and yes, I always call in when finishing a leg to report safe arrival).
I wont do it now and I certainly wont do it when headset watch finishes. How safe is that?
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