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Old 25 June 2017, 09:36   #1
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VHF licence and operators certificate - anyone bother?

A have both fixed and handheld VHF on my boat, I have an expired GMDSS General Operators Certificate and the old Restricted Radio, so I know how to use them correctly.

Is there any real reason to bother with a radio licence?

I mean they are there purely for emergency, I don't use for general duties, so is there any point?

Also, as I have no intention of renewing my operators certificate, I would still be technically illegal anyway.

What's the consensus?
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Old 25 June 2017, 10:01   #2
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I didn't realise the operators certificate ran out? I guess I'm illegal too
I've not renewed my ships licence either I keep threatening too seeing as it's free but never seem to get the motivation
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Old 25 June 2017, 12:08   #3
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I mean they are there purely for emergency, I don't use for general duties, so is there any point?

You could perhaps get more value from it if you used it for a wider range of purposes. One of my criticisms of the SRC course was it focussed almost exclusively on distress calls. There is an article in this months PBO covering other uses for DSC (not even the voice part of the VHF) that might interest those who think it's a distress only tool.
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Old 25 June 2017, 16:03   #4
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The old Restricted VHF operators certificate didn't (and doesn't) expire to my knowledge, it just means you can't officially use the GMDSS/DSC features. You could do a half day upgrade to the VHF DSC certificate, or just stay on the Restricted certificate, and still legally use the VHF for voice traffic.
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Old 25 June 2017, 18:06   #5
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So if you've done the dsc course it runs out? I did that one probably 8 or 9 years ago and never realised it was time limited I thought it was like getting a drivers licence
How Long is it valid for?
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Old 26 June 2017, 02:23   #6
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They were both commercial qualifications, the Restricted Radio didn't expire but is now defunct, the GMDSS needs to be re-validated along with other certification.

What the situation is with recreational quals is I don't know. As in reality, nobody actually checks or controls it, it all seems a bit pointless.
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Old 26 June 2017, 03:04   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gobuchul View Post
They were both commercial qualifications, the Restricted Radio didn't expire but is now defunct, the GMDSS needs to be re-validated along with other certification.

What the situation is with recreational quals is I don't know. As in reality, nobody actually checks or controls it, it all seems a bit pointless.


I'm inclined to agree. I have both SRC & GMDSS. I dont think I've ever used DSC in anger & would have to study how to do so, apart from the sh1t or bust button. It's not a particularly user friendly or intuitive system IMO & it will never replace voice for routine traffic (IMO). Never been checked here in the UK although I have in France, but that's France for you.
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Old 26 June 2017, 04:05   #8
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I dont think I've ever used DSC in anger & would have to study how to do so
I don't think I have.

I think DSC is pretty pointless nowadays. You normally have decent mobile coverage a couple of miles of the coast and large vessels generally have cheap, reliable satcoms.
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Old 26 June 2017, 05:22   #9
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I assumed we were talking recreational/leisure quals. The old RYA-administered "Restricted VHF" course/licence doesn't expire and is valid for life (but no longer issued as a new qualification), but only includes the voice portion of VHF, and not DSC/GMDSS.

The current RYA-administered VHF qualification, the Short Range Certificate (SRC), covers voice and DSC/GMDSS, and is valid for life. You can do a ~half day upgrade from the RYA VHF Restricted to RYA VHF SRC qualifications.
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Old 26 June 2017, 13:26   #10
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I don't think I have.

I think DSC is pretty pointless nowadays. You normally have decent mobile coverage a couple of miles of the coast and large vessels generally have cheap, reliable satcoms.

And when you don't have mobile signal?
When you want to call a vessel you can see (or read from ais) but have no idea the skippers mob no?
If you want to easily check the position of a friend / whole flotilla?
When you want to send a distress to everyone nearby rather than just the CG, or the CG want to call all boats in an area?
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Old 26 June 2017, 13:29   #11
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And when you don't have mobile signal?
When you want to call a vessel you can see (or read from ais) but have no idea the skippers mob no?
If you want to easily check the position of a friend / whole flotilla?
When you want to send a distress to everyone nearby rather than just the CG, or the CG want to call all boats in an area?
I think I am right when I say that anyone can USE in an emergency situation
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Old 26 June 2017, 14:05   #12
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What the situation is with recreational quals is I don't know. As in reality, nobody actually checks or controls it, it all seems a bit pointless.
Recreational Qual doesn't expire.

As is often the case we seem to be mixing the Qual and the Radio Licence (free).

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I'm inclined to agree. I have both SRC & GMDSS. I dont think I've ever used DSC in anger & would have to study how to do so, apart from the sh1t or bust button. It's not a particularly user friendly or intuitive system IMO & it will never replace voice for routine traffic (IMO).
I agree it was designed in the days of Nokia Bricks sending text messages. Nowadays you'd expect a touch screen and maybe it takes a photo of your boat on fire so the CG can see how big an issue it is...

There are three things a system designers could do with adding routinely:
- A full Keypad (ideally with a keyboard) to make entry of MMSIs in the directory easier
- A function to let you select your distress type on pressing red. So maybe you short press the Oh Sh17 button and then scroll down to pick MOB and then long press it.
-

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gobuchul View Post
I think DSC is pretty pointless nowadays. You normally have decent mobile coverage a couple of miles of the coast and large vessels generally have cheap, reliable satcoms.
And when you don't have mobile signal?
When you want to call a vessel you can see (or read from ais) but have no idea the skippers mob no?
If you want to easily check the position of a friend / whole flotilla?
When you want to send a distress to everyone nearby rather than just the CG, or the CG want to call all boats in an area?
Add:
Want to test your voice system without bugging every person in the area (DSC has a digital test that works "silently" in the background
Want to send a position with your distress message (yes that is do-able from a phone ap, but either the phone app needs to be on all the time (battery life 4-6hrs max) or there is a lag in sending a message. How many phones are waterproof? How many float? How many work with wet screens even if they don't die when they get wet?

Cheap an Sat Comms are not words I've seen in the same sentence before!

My mobile switches off unexpectedly with anything from 12% battery or less. It takes about 2 minutes to come back on, then won't have GPS, and will shut down again without time to make a call. My handheld VHF switches off when power is low. But switching it back on would give me ability to voice transmit again before it dies as it only switches off when inactive and low in battery.

I don't think DSC is defunct. I think many of the features like position poling are under used.
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Old 26 June 2017, 14:13   #13
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I thought it was like getting a drivers licence
You might want to check that! Driving licenses are not valid forever (usually expire on your 70th birthday)
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Old 26 June 2017, 14:16   #14
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You might want to check that! Driving licenses are not valid forever (usually expire on your 70th birthday)
and now need renewing every 10 years
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Old 26 June 2017, 14:32   #15
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I think I am right when I say that anyone can USE in an emergency situation
Yes.

Having a 'how to' card on board - mine's printed & laminated - is a good idea & IIRC has been well discussed in other threads
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Old 26 June 2017, 15:26   #16
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Yes.



Having a 'how to' card on board - mine's printed & laminated - is a good idea & IIRC has been well discussed in other threads


Yes I have the very same on my rib. Printed in red for mayday and green for pan pan stuck next to vhf with a bigger one in the pod
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Old 26 June 2017, 16:38   #17
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I've never used my DSC button in anger but certainly during my VHF course I could see the benefit of using it in a non-emergency scenario as it bypassed some of the voice traffic and put you directly on to a working channel. I can envisage it being the precursor of being able to 'text' via DSC which I'm guessing would be quite an efficient use of the airwaves.
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Old 27 June 2017, 01:31   #18
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When you want to call a vessel you can see (or read from ais) but have no idea the skippers mob no?
Channel 16?

Quote:
If you want to easily check the position of a friend / whole flotilla?
Personally, never really had a need for that.

Quote:
When you want to send a distress to everyone nearby rather than just the CG,
Channel 16. So the DSC has a slightly longer range but where I operate this is not an issue.
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Old 27 June 2017, 03:58   #19
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Channel 16?
so you are assuming that every boat is on ch16 and actually listening (at a volume they can hear)? If ch16 is working distress calls in the area what will you do? If you are in a busy area do you need to clog ch16 when you could just let the radios sort out a working channel silently.

Quote:
Personally, never really had a need for that.
ive never used it either but I can see it is a useful feature, particularly if you sail in company



Quote:
Channel 16. So the DSC has a slightly longer range but where I operate this is not an issue.
dsc also unambiguously transmits your identity and position, which in the heat of the moment, or on poor reception could easily be misheard; and of course it wakes everyone up to tell them, and for plotter connected vhfs will plot the position so they can see how close you are.
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Old 27 June 2017, 04:09   #20
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VHF licence and operators certificate - anyone bother?

DSC is a great concept & I'm sure that in a Mayday situation goes a long way to simplifying distress calling. In routine traffic however, it's poorly implemented, too many button presses. You need to know, or already have stored the MMSI of the nearest CG station, and your contacts. It isn't very ergonomic or intuitive for the day to day stuff, especially on a RIB. It's much easier, whilst underway to pick up the mike & make a call, rather than stop & squint at a small display, scroll through the menus, press a button or 2 & wait for a reply. Just my 2 penneth.
I also think that there's a case for having a single MMSI number for "The Coastguard" in the same way that we should be calling "The Coastguard" on voice rather than Humber/Holyhead/Stornoway etc.
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