Sound Off

Not everyone knows that you can use a Digital Selective Calling (DSC) VHF radio to call friends on other boats without using channel 16. It’s a great feature, particularly if channel 16 is very busy or if you want your call to be somewhat private. Here’s how it works. If I want to call a friend on Jubilee, I select a working channel—channel 72, for example—and check to see
Author:
Updated:
Original:
hr.sm.0207.SS.VHF1

Not everyone knows that you can use a Digital Selective Calling (DSC) VHF radio to call friends on other boats without using channel 16. It’s a great feature, particularly if channel 16 is very busy or if you want your call to be somewhat private. Here’s how it works.

If I want to call a friend on Jubilee, I select a working channel—channel 72, for example—and check to see whether it is free of radio traffic. If it is, I press the call/set key on the front panel of my radio to access its DSC menu; some DSC radios may have a different procedure, so check your instruction manual. I then scroll down the menu, highlight the individual option, and press the call/set key again to bring up a directory of boats I have entered into the unit’s memory. On my unit I program the individual letters and numbers into the unit using the call/set key and the channel-selector knob.

In addition to knowing the Marine Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number of the receiving station before you can use this calling feature, you must also program your own MMSI number into your radio. Your MMSI number is listed on your boat’s FCC radio license. If you don’t have an FCC license, you can get an MMSI number from www.boatus.com or from www.seatow.com.

When your radio is properly programmed, using it to call someone is as easy as using a cell phone. In this case I select Jubilee from the list and press the call/set key to send a digital transmission that triggers a response on Jubilee‘s radio and identifies your boat as the hailing station. Although my radio remains dialed to channel 72, this hailing transmission occurs on channel 70.
The transmission sets off a loud ring tone on Jubilee, alerting them that my call is coming in. The ring tone is much easier to notice than a voice call on channel 16. Jubilee’s crew can accept my call by following the menu commands on their radio’s display panel. When they have done so, my unit will ring and will auto-switch to the preselected channel shown on the display. With both DSC radios now switched automatically to the preselected channel, we are free to talk.

If the other boat doesn’t respond to my call within 8 seconds, my radio will automatically send a follow-up transmission. If there is no answer to that call, it will display a “no response” message on its screen, and I can either keep trying or exit the menu.

It also works the other way. For example, if I miss an incoming DSC call, my unit will display an alert message on its screen telling me that a specific boat has called; obviously, my unit must be turned on for this to happen. If it is and I don’t answer, the call, including the time it was received, is also automatically logged in my radio’s “call waiting” directory.

Using the VHF without having to hail on channel 16 is a big advantage. DSC radios let you bypass the clutter and confusion. Niels R. Jensen

Related

190916-AC75

U.S. Team Launches First America’s Cup Boat

Fast forward to around 2:25 to see the boat in action. First day out and already doing full-foiling gybes: not too shabby! Hard on the heels of the unveiling of New Zealand’s first AC75, the New York Yacht Club’s American Magic team has now launched its first America’s Cup ...read more

GGTobCaysHorseshoeColors

Picking a Charter Destination

Picking a destination should reflect the interests of your group, says People often ask about my favorite charter destination, and invariably, I sidestep the question with one of my own: “Well, what do you want to do on your vacation?” Most often I hear an incredulous, “Why, ...read more

sinking

Waterlines: Chasing Leaks on Boats

Chasing leaks on boats is a time-honored obsession. Rule number one in all galaxies of the nautical universe through all of nautical history has always been the same: keep the water on the outside. When water somehow finds its way inside and you don’t know where it’s coming ...read more

BestBoatNominees2020-Promo

Best Boats Nominees 2020

Bring on the monohulls! In a world increasingly given over to multihull sailing, SAIL magazine’s “Best Boats” class of 2020 brings with it a strong new group of keelboats, including everything from luxury cruisers nipping at the heels of their mega-yacht brethren to a number of ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Relieve the load  One of the ancient arts of the sailor is setting up a “stopper” to relieve a loaded rope without letting anything go. The classic use for a stopper is to take the weight off the genoa ...read more

05

Ask Sail: Water Getting into Coax

Q: While inspecting behind the nav station for my spring cleaning, I discovered water behind my chartplotter and VHF radio stack. Freshwater to boot! Do electronics leak? I didn’t think so. — Everette Gracy, Norton Shores, MI Gordan West Replies  Last winter your region was ...read more

Instrumentation-Vakaros-Atlas-Head-On-(New-Main-Screen)

Gear: Vakaros Atlas

Small-boat Race Instrumentation The compact Vakaros Atlas provides real-time, on-the-water performance data as well as off-the-water analytics aboard smaller raceboats. Among the parameters measured are GPS speed, magnetic heading, time-to-line, VMG, pitch and leeway. The system ...read more

JeanneSocrates02

77-Year-Old Completes Solo Circumnavigation

After 320 days at sea, British sailor Jeanne Socrates, 77, arrived in Victoria, British Colombia, on Saturday, completing her latest circumnavigation and in the process becoming the oldest person ever to sail solo, nonstop around the world. Prior to the voyage, Socrates was ...read more