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Old 24 June 2018, 20:39   #1
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Marine VHF channels and protocol

Following the Marine VHF licence thread, I remembered I was going to post this a while back. . .

Most of us know how to make a correct mayday call, mayday relay and pan pan.
I hear so many mayday calls that should really be pan pan calls, I think this is because so many unlicensed users (when I say unlicensed I mean non competent users) make mayday calls as that's all the user know what to do for engine failure! So on a good few occasions every season (none this season yet) I have come across other boaters (all sibs, speed boats and the occasional private fishing boat) stranded usually drifting or anchored tight against the high cliff shores of the south coast. They have no phone siginal and no VHF as usual! those I can tow back to civilisation I do, but for those I can't once I establish that they are not in risk I now call on the VHF direct to the coast guard and report the situation (position, number of persons on board, vessel name if it has one and description and their safety equipment or lack of and go on my jolly way, as when I make a pan pan on the other boats behalf no one ever responds to my tow request for them! I guess people think oh well that guy is there they will be ok till someone else sorts it, on one occasion I left a fishing club boat that I had sat with for a good while after I couldn't get their engine going and after making the coast guard aware I was leaving now as some one had responded to the pan pan so there would be no further VHF communications to that boats Pan Pan via my call sign, I was informed by the coast all was received and was thanked for my assistance, (it turned out the pan pan responder did not attend in the end) many hours later after I had put my boat away (now early evening) I walked down to the club that the boat was from as I was promised that a nice offering of a pint and a few mackerel were to be handed over in thanks for the help given that afternoon when I arrived at the club I found out they were still out! The club staff said if they are not back by sunset I will call the coast guard, she did by 999! They were towed back by the lifeboat. Shortly after, all arrived sun stroked and dehydrated as they had long consumed their only drinks, the 2 cases of beer they had took out when they headed out at 11am that morning, they did have around 50 mackerel though! Is it just the south coast that this is kind of occurrence is standard almost every weekend through the summer lol? How can a club allow a group of members to take a club boat out with no vhf!

I hear the local commercial fisherman calling each other on CH16 by first names and not ship call signs as standard now "hello Dave you there" "yeah" "channel. . . ." "Ok mate"
what's that about lol!

Do you call in to the coast guard when your heading out? Get a radio check? and or give your intentions for the day? I often radio check and sometimes give intentions if I'm feeling adventurous!, but i do feel that giving the days intentions might curse your day and it's embarrassing when the coast guard is calling you on ch16 because you've forgot to call in that you back on shore lol!
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Old 25 June 2018, 02:09   #2
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I guess people think oh well that guy is there they will be ok till someone else sorts it, on one occasion I left a fishing club boat that I had sat with for a good while after I couldn't get their engine going and after making the coast guard aware I was leaving now as some one had responded to the pan pan so there would be no further VHF communications to that boats Pan Pan via my call sign, I was informed by the coast all was received and was thanked for my assistance, (it turned out the pan pan responder did not attend in the end)
Something sounds "off" in all that. The situation (dead engine, multiple POB, no comms) is very much an "incident" and as such should be worked to a safe conclusion by the CG. I wonder were they in direct with the Pan Pan responder? If not, odd that they would have released you from scene. Did they have accurate co-ords from you for the casualty vessel? Amazing they didn't send the cavalry or otherwise determine a safe conclusion.

I'm not as surprised as you that boat clubs do not issue expensive handhelds to groups of men going to sea with crates of beer...

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Old 25 June 2018, 03:05   #3
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Lee, Iím glad I donít boat on the South Coast. I find it hard to imagine anyone up here just continuing on their way leaving the stranded vessel with no comms rather than waiting whilst help arrives.

Be aware when you give your intentions (especially on the south coast) the details are logged but donít actively get reviewed until an incident happens. They wonít be chasing you up unless you are on their ďcause for concernĒ radar. You might be better looking at the RYA Safetrax app.
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Old 25 June 2018, 03:24   #4
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Ive never heard any commercial fisherman tying up ch16, plenty of non commercial fisherman chat on another channel around Poole harbour, once listen to a conversation about someones wife having an affair for about 20 minutes (not ch16) that was rather amusing.

I don't think you really should have left that stranded person unless RNLI or another boating was assisting, from experience some times people need a push to do the right thing and declare a mayday or pan pan as they just seem to think it will work out all right, once came across a dive rib out of swanage that waved me over and asked if I had seen a diver that was missing, I asked how long he was missing for and they said 20 minutes, I said they should call the coastguard but they seemed reluctant, I waited around for about 3 mins and then went back over to them and re stated they should call the coast guard in stonger terms, they then tried and there one and only VHF set wasn't working so I called myself, rnli came out and found the diver about half a mile away drifting on the surface.

As to regular calls, I tend only to do a radio check on way out, either by calling on ch16 if its clear (no emergency going on) or if passing swanage I call the volunteer coastwatch lookout on ch65 (now a dedicated channel for them) they are more than happy to help with a radio check etc.

Mostly I dont find too many issues with the vhf calling from people, occasional numpties in busy summer days with an open mike or kids laying with it but most of time its pretty much clear.

Best open mike I heard was a women who was going to take part in some ocean race was accidently broadcasting a conversation she was having while preparing the yacht about how much booze they should take with them. LOL.

As to engine failure issues etc, an engine failure could fast become a big issue, if you cant tow them or its too dangerous etc putting yourself in risk, get them to call coastguard or do it yourself if they aint got a VHF.

If no ones in any risk for a while then;

1. sea start
2. potential tow
3. pan pan
4. talk direct to coastguard
5. if definate risk then mayday
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Old 25 June 2018, 03:49   #5
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I hear the local commercial fisherman calling each other on CH16 by first names and not ship call signs as standard now "hello Dave you there" "yeah" "channel. . . ." "Ok mate"
what's that about lol!
^^^^
Common practice for years amongst the commercial dayboats in south Cornwall too.
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Old 25 June 2018, 13:51   #6
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Marine VHF channels and protocol

Coast guard didn't release me, I had to go, and there was no immediate risk so I was happy to go as it wasn't a mayday situation, they were at least anchored and happy to sit their fishing and drinking and all topless lol and they said the club knew they was out and what locations there were going to fish, last I remembered was the CG taking the pan pan responder to CH68 or thereabouts shortly after I left and I didn't dual watch (listen) to the matter further...
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Old 25 June 2018, 14:15   #7
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Without naming the club or location. . It's a fishing club with 3 or so club boats I believe, the boat I always see out and the one in question that day it's is an old wooden boat kinda like what the RNLI used before HYPERLON was invented lol must weigh more than a ton! The kind you see on roundabouts around the coast uses as flower displays by the council etc. . . The way the club works as I've asked members is that you can use one of the club boats anytime (you have to book one in advance) and you can take guests out with you which is what the guy in the boat that day had done but you have to bring your own engine (and it must be under 10hp) as the club do not provide engines for use. They engine the guys had that day was an old poor condition 5hp if I remember right, I tried to fix it with the SIB tool kit but I couldn't, I tried to tow them and unclipped after 2 meters it would of ripped my SIB transom off lol every time I see that boat no one ever has life jackets lol, when I see it going to my fishing spot I go to my other spot in the other direction lol
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Old 25 June 2018, 14:31   #8
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Marine VHF channels and protocol

Quote:
Originally Posted by Poly View Post
Lee, Iím glad I donít boat on the South Coast. I find it hard to imagine anyone up here just continuing on their way leaving the stranded vessel with no comms rather than waiting whilst help arrives.

Be aware when you give your intentions (especially on the south coast) the details are logged but donít actively get reviewed until an incident happens. They wonít be chasing you up unless you are on their ďcause for concernĒ radar. You might be better looking at the RYA Safetrax app.


Your right Dover CG does have a huge area to cover and gets busy, also hand held VHF is patchy in places against the shore I/we make sure friend family etc. . . I.e. someone on land always knows I/we are out

I had been their a good two hours, I did feel like a fool after a good while as they were sitting there drinking their beers and having a laugh! I pointed out they had no life jackets VHF, flares, phone signal and all in shorts only and informed them that the tide was coming in and they could possible drift on the the rocks if the anchor failed, (which was a large fold up job) they were all sitting there cool as cats, tops off drinking their beers all having a laugh, and theirs me with PFD on, PLB out the grab box and clipped to my PFD, drouge deployed and talking on the VHF and their like. . . Do you want a beer mate lol, I sensed they felt I was being unduly concerned, I was thinking how you guys gonna swim drunk lol, I even offered to take one person back to the club in the SIB they said no don't worry someone will come along and tow us in they always do lol
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Old 25 June 2018, 15:47   #9
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Their indifference to their predicament doesn't make it any less real. .....ignorance is bliss.
You could see the potential consequences of the situation and you left them. How would you have felt if this had ended badly?
I'd have called the CG, relayed my concerns, and waited until capable assistance turned up.
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Old 25 June 2018, 17:57   #10
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Marine VHF channels and protocol

No one was interested in turning up, I was calling the pan pan for a good hour whilst I watched several leisure boats pass by a km or so further out. On hearing the information that I told the CG the CG did not sent a life boat to do a tow that I could not do, I was not asked by the CG to stay there once I relayed all the latest information and stated that I was going to leave as I was unable to provide the tow and that I had been there some considerable time and had to go and that I was happy with my decision as a pan pan responder was on the way, It was a PAN PAN situation not a mayday, on informing the CG I was leaving I was thanked for assisting as I had done and heard the CG then talking to the pan pan responder directly after my out communication the CG again relayed the position of the stranded boat and then took the communication from CH16 to CH67 or similar. the skipper declined my offer to take someone back to the club to get assistance from the club to get another boat out for the tow because I did tell him that looks like your only option as no one is responding and like I said he replied someone will pass along don't worry, I feel no one rushed to the pan pan because they were anchored in a bay so not as bad as drifting a good way out in the ocean, and I guess who wants to try to get in tight to the coast in a bay in a area filled with submerged rocks and possible damage their boat. I heard a pan pan last bank holiday, foreign yacht about 3km off shore broken rigging unable to sail, been using engine since dawn now low on fuel the pan pan went on all day, it was called in about 1pm I heard faint communications on my handheld at 8pm back at the caravans when the CG made a desperate PAN PAN shout for them on CH16 as they had now started to drift into the shore and it was getting dark, I'm almost sure the lifeboat went out in the end for that one.
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