Gear

Marine Communications Special: 2006

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By Ben Ellison

On the one hand, I’m sorry to report that the U.S. Coast Guard has made little visible progress toward implementing Rescue 21, the new search-and-rescue communications system that will, eventually, unleash the potential of DSC-VHF radios. On the other hand (this comes as a real surprise), the reappearance of coastal marine VHF operators just may induce a lot of sailors to finally get their MMSI numbers and to properly interface their DSC-VHF radios with their GPS receivers. The new crop of reasonably priced full-feature Class D DSC receivers with big, easy-to-read LCDs and features like built-in fog horns are also very seductive. Of course, there’s a lot more than just VHF modulating the air waves. This year we have live weather data coming down from Sirius radio satellites, several new short-range wireless products for man-overboard retrieval, and ever more clever ways to enjoy cellular, Internet, and TV service farther offshore.

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