Cruising

Say Again Page 2

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In addition to “out,” “over” and “I hear” or “I copy,” there are several other useful prowords you should learn to use when conversing on the radio:

Say again: repeat your last transmission.

Say again all after( ): repeat your last transmission starting with the word or phrase ( ).

Stand by: Cease transmissions but monitor this channel.

Standing by: Affirmative reply to a request to stand by. It is not necessary to state the channel, unless it is different from the one on which you are communicating. Instead of saying “out,” some people like to sign off by saying, “Standing by on channel 16.” This is not necessary. It is understood you will return to 16 unless another channel is designated.

Roger: Indicates agreement. If it is a reply to instructions, it indicates compliance.

Affirmative and negative: These are best used rather than “yes” or “no.”

Emergency procedures

The popular proword “Mayday” (from the French m’aidez for “help me”) is overused, if not abused. It is not to be used when you run out of fuel. Mayday indicates you are in a life-threatening emergency and require immediate assistance. When making a Mayday call, state your vessel’s name, its position, the nature of the emergency and the number of people onboard.

“Pan-Pan” (pronounced “Pon-Pon”) indicates a potentially life-threatening emergency and that you would like others to monitor your status until the situation is resolved. In many cases, people making Mayday calls should instead be making Pan-Pan calls. Again, identify your vessel and its position, and state the nature of the problem and how many are aboard.

If the Coast Guard wishes to work an emergency situation on Channel 16, it will declare “Silence Mayday” (pronounced “See-lonce Mayday,” from the French). At this point all other traffic on 16 should cease until the Coast Guard releases the channel. When the Coast Guard reopens the channel it will declare “Silence Fini” (“See-lonce Finee”) or “Silence Prudence” (“See-lonce Pru-donce”). Other parties seeking to keep a channel clear for emergency communications should call “Silence Distress” (“See-lonce Distress”).

“Securite” (pronounced “Sea-cur-i-tay”) indicates you wish to share information concerning safety. For example, when entering an inlet with compromised maneuvering ability, you might hail all stations on Channel 16 as follows: “Securite. Securite. This is sailing vessel Sea Smoke entering Jones Inlet. I am restricted in my ability to maneuver. Please stand clear.” It is also a common practice to make periodic Securite calls when operating in the fog, giving your position, course and destination.

Though it’s no longer necessary to give your call sign each time you use the radio, it is still a good idea to use it (assuming you have one) when making emergency calls, as it will clearly identify your boat. There may, for example, be a number of Voyagers in the vicinity, but only one Whiskey Romeo Bravo Six Zero Niner Two.

A final point: The controls on a VHF radio are simple, but the squelch control is particularly important. This is used to eliminate static when the radio is on standby. If the squelch is turned up too high, important messages may go unheard. Good practice is to reset the squelch every time you turn on the radio. First turn down the squelch until you hear static. Set your volume control using the static. Then turn up the squelch until the static just disappears. When communicating over long ranges, turn the squelch off.

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