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Old 30 March 2008, 12:26   #1
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For the Instructors and anyone who reads "Wavelength".

In the most recent Wavelength, there is an article about "Calling the Coastguard using DSC" on Page 8.

The article explains that you should key in the Coastguard Station MMSI number - then make the "routine call" - and wait until your set displays the channel chosen by the Coastguard. It goes on to say "it is the CALLER WHO SPEAKS FIRST". In other words, if the Coastguard indicates 67 as the channel you should go to 67 and call them.

All of this is completely correct, but as an ex-coastguard who still has friends working in the ops room, it would have been better to have added just a little bit extra as follows:-

Call the Coastguard on the indicated channel - but use the format "Solent Coastguard this is Mucky Duck MMSI 234001234 over".

The addition of the MMSI number to the call immediately tells the MRCC unit that you are responding to their MMSI transmission. Your boat name alone DOES NOT do that as at present there is no automatic link for the Ops Room between MMSI and Boat Name.

Hence it makes the Coastguards life just a little bit easier, and they will appreciate that
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Old 30 March 2008, 15:08   #2
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In other words, if the Coastguard indicates 67 as the channel you should go to 67 and call them.
When the coastie replies, they will select 67 on your VHF won't they? Or any other channel they choose, of course.
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Old 30 March 2008, 15:13   #3
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Peter, wouldn't it be easier to just pick up the mike and talk to them?

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Old 30 March 2008, 16:15   #4
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That's way too straightforward...Why make something simple if you can make it confusing?
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Old 30 March 2008, 16:23   #5
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When the coastie replies, they will select 67 on your VHF won't they? Or any other channel they choose, of course.
Magic! I'll give it a go next time we are out, but say nothing just to see if the technology works then they'll have to ask me what I want, I should have disabled my MMSI in my description before posting this shouldnt I?
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Old 30 March 2008, 16:40   #6
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Magic! I'll give it a go next time we are out, but say nothing just to see if the technology works then they'll have to ask me what I want, I should have disabled my MMSI in my description before posting this shouldnt I?
Just out of interest Simon, would you deliberately waste the time of the Police, Fire Brigade or Ambulance Service?

Because - "saying nothing" as you put it, means that some poor (literally!) Coastguard Watch Officer has to then search through ITU to find your MMSI details which may or may not provide him with your boats name, if they aren't there he has to search through other sources - and then eventually after all this extra work he has to call you on VHF 16 once he has found your boat name. And all the time - YOU should have called HIM!!

Now I dont give a toss whether you call the Coastguard on VHF16 or DSC. (However, DSC is in many ways better as it gives them your position automatically.)

What I do care about is that if people use the DSC system, they use it in a manner that does not increase the burden on the Coastguard Ops Room (MRCC).

In my opinion, the RYA should have explained all this in their "Advice and Information" section this month.
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Old 30 March 2008, 16:42   #7
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Peter, wouldn't it be easier to just pick up the mike and talk to them?

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That assumes they are actually listening on CH16 Pete. There is no longer a requirement for CH16 to be on a dedicated headset watch anymore - so it may just be on loudspeaker in the ops room (correct me if I'm wrong Peter).

Come and do your DSC upgrade on Tuesday!
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Old 30 March 2008, 17:05   #8
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That assumes they are actually listening on CH16 Pete. There is no longer a requirement for CH16 to be on a dedicated headset watch anymore - so it may just be on loudspeaker in the ops room (correct me if I'm wrong Peter)
I think on a dark January night then Solent CG will be on the speakers, but August Bank holiday I wouldn't be suprised if they don't revert to the headsets. Serious set up btw, lots of large plasma TVs showing charting software of the Solent, well worth a visit.

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wilco, rodger, over and out

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Old 30 March 2008, 17:06   #9
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....boyo.
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Old 30 March 2008, 17:28   #10
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Now I dont give a toss whether you call the Coastguard on VHF16 or DSC. (However, DSC is in many ways better as it gives them your position automatically.)

What I do care about is that if people use the DSC system, they use it in a manner that does not increase the burden on the Coastguard Ops Room (MRCC).
Given that people will never follow any system like this perfectly should they not have designed it to be more robust so that when the incoming MMSI number is displayed on the screen in the opps room it looks up the MMSI and CG66 databases and shows the vessel name too?

However I suspect in anycase its not causing a major issue in the ops rooms as there is no prominent information on this on the MCGA website (and in the CG aren't specifically asking for it - why should the RYA be?)

Actually it seems to me that it might be a bit of a non-issue that could be sorted by procedures in the ops room? Caller A calls CG via DSC - so route him to e.g. Ch.72, the next person calling on Ch. 72 is probably him. Caller B calls via DSC - route him to Ch. 10 - the next person calling on 10 is probably him. and so on... the only way thats a problem is if someone tries to call the CG on 72 before caller A (which is not that likely since its not the calling channel) and the CG assume its the DSC initiated call. But Caller A can always reinitiate the call, just as he would have in the old days if the working channel turned out to be busy.
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