VHF RADIOS (Marine Portable VHF Radios)

All Coxswains must carry a working VHF radio when in a Charlestown Rowing Club boat.

Our main Club radios are Cobra HH350, they are normally held by Rowing Captains and Coxswains. If you are the holder of a CRC VHF radio you have full responsibility for keeping it charged and maintained and will have received instruction on care and use.

Other VHF Handheld radios for (for general training) are kept on the Radio Board in the Gig shed. If you use one please return it.

VHF RADIO USE


To transmit on VHF you need an operator’s licence or you should be under instruction from a licenced individual, who is usually (but not exclusively) on the vessel, but anyone can use the radio for emergency purposes. There are strict codes of practice and penalties for misuse. CRC have Ofcom VHF licences for five radios, held by the Club Secretary. In addition, several Club Members have the required RYA / MCA Short Range Certificate (SRC) – please ask for advice if you need it.

When the boat is at sea the VHF radio should be on and Ch16 be monitored in order to be of safety use to yourself or any other water user. The CRC Cobra HH350 is capable of triple channel watch so you should maintain watch on Ch16, Ch72 (the CRC preferred inter-ship channel) and one other which could be Ch65 (NCI) or an alternative to Ch37 which is used by Porthpean Sailing Club, or another appropriate channel e.g. as specified by a race control. All other channels should be avoided unless you receive a specific instruction by the Coast Guard to switch.

The RNLI provide useful guidance click here for link

British Rowing, Rowsafe 2017 also provides useful guidance and advice click here for link

The messages you send or receive are not private; they can be listened to by anyone. Think before you speak, use a minimum of words, preferably “procedure” vocabulary, such as:

Over – invitation to reply
Out – The conversation has finished (“Over and out” is never used!)
“Station Calling” - when calling to answer a message from a vessel whose identity is unknown. E.g. “Station Calling Pilot Gig SPIRIT, this is Pilot Gig SPIRIT, say again – Over”

Radio communications must never include: Foul Language
Chit Chat - keep it to the point
Transmissions without the boat’s name

Example communication between two gigs:

Rashleigh: “Pilot Gig Spirit, Pilot Gig Spirit, this is Pilot Gig Rashleigh, – Over.”

Spirit: “Pilot Gig Rashleigh, this is Pilot Gig Spirit. Pass your message – Over”.

Rashleigh: “Spirit just to inform you that we are returning to Charlestown harbour in around 15 minutes time. Over”

Spirit: “Rashleigh, Ok, we will come in about the same time. Over”

Rashleigh: “Spirit Ok, see you there. Out”

CRC VHF RADIOS

If you are the holder of a CRC radio you have full responsibility for keeping it charged and maintained. You must read and obey the charging and battery care section in the manual. If you have forgotten to charge it before driving to an event you may get enough charge using the 12V facility in your car. Do not leave radios uncharged or being charged too long, see manual.

If you need to pass the radio to another person it is your responsibility to ensure that person knows the regulations. You must get the unit returned at the earliest opportunity. Only lend out the radio not the full pack.

Although the units are water proof and floatable they must be kept salt and water free under all normal circumstance. If you suspect salt or water damage you must take the correct action as shown in the manual. The same may apply if being used in foul weather.

The antennas are vulnerable and the units must not be kept in pockets or loose on the vessel. There is a neck lanyard and a clothing clip. Both should used.

For all normal use the transmitting POWER should only be set to 1 watt, or L . The only time you may need 3 or 6 watts is for MAYDAY calls to Coastguard or ALL STATIONS.

You never use Ch16 for anything other than emergency or to call another station when you do not know what Channel they are monitoring. You must not use Ch16 for the message you must go to the Channel designated by the replier IMMEDIATELY.



VHF RADIO CHANNELS

Marine VHF Frequencies are in the band 156.0 MHz to 174.0 MHz and are usually known by their dedicated Channel Numbers. The main channels of interest to us at CRC are-

Channel 72 : The CRC preferred inter-boat channel. Ship-to-ship use

Channel 16 : Used for Emergencies and routine initial calling and answering. Once contact has been established stations usually transfer to a working Channel. Channel 16 is monitored by Coastguard, NCI and SAR agencies for Distress, Urgency and Safety Messages.

Channel 37 : Used by Porthpean Sailing Club

Channel 65 : Used by National Coastwatch Institute (NCI)
NCI Charlestown monitor a variety of channels but if you want to contact them for information or radio checks use Ch 65.

Channel 10 : Met Office weather forecast from local aerial (Fowey) issued at 0710, 1010, 1310, 1610, 1910. Etc. Initial announcement on Ch. 16
Only broadcast as Charlestown Rowing Club on channels listed above unless instructed to by the Coastguard, Harbour Masters, Border Agency, etc.

At a CPGA Race Meeting, use the channel as specified by the race control



To obtain the best performance from a VHF Radio it is imperative that the Volume and Squelch Controls are correctly set:

• Turn the set on with the Volume Switch and rotate the control to desired level. Rotate the Squelch control clockwise until the “noise” disappear

• Select your channel; wait to see that it is clear before you send your message. Do not talk over existing users

• Hold the Radio around 10cm from your mouth, and to the side when speaking.

• Press the Talk button and wait for about a second before talking to ensure messages are not cut off.

• Speak more clearly and slowly than your usual speech.

• You must identify yourself (not, this is Fred Smith) i.e. “Pilot gig SPIRIT” , or “Charlestown Rowing Club” You must always include your boat’s name

• Separate numbers. E.g. “17” would be said as “One, Seven”

• Use phonetics for spelling when necessary. A-Alpha, B-Bravo, C-Charlie etc.

• Use 24hr clock..



VHF radio waves cannot bend around the curve of the Earth like some other radio waves. So both the transmitting antenna and the receiving antenna need to 'see' each other. The moment one or other dips below the horizon, communication is lost. The best way to give your VHF radio increased range is to get the antenna higher. VHF radios, hand-held or fixed, once switched to maximum power, have their range limited by the height of the antenna above sea level. A small increase in antenna height, even just a metre, can give you a few more miles in range - possible vital miles in an emergency. If you are using a hand-held VHF, just standing up can double your range (but make sure it is safe to stand wherever you are). Switching to 'High' power on your radio will also increase your range but this should NOT be used unless in an emergency.

DISTRESS, URGENCY AND SAFETY MESSAGES

There are three types of emergency communications:

MAYDAY (From the French ‘M’aidez’ meaning ‘Help Me’) Used when your vessel and/or persons on board are in grave and imminent danger and require immediate assistance. The word “Mayday” must not be used in any other radio traffic.

PANPAN any emergency that does not fall in to the above category. E.g. Broken leg on board, loss of propulsion and drifting into danger, or if unknown position.

SECURITÉ messages to and from the Coastguard concerning safety

MAYDAY example.

“MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY”

“THIS IS PILOT GIG SPIRIT, PILOT GIG SPIRIT, PILOT GIG SPIRIT”
(short pause so any receiver can begin monitoring)

“MAYDAY PILOT GIG SPIRIT”

“MY POSITION IS 1 MILE SOUTH OF GRIBBEN HEAD”

“WE HAVE BEEN HOLED AND ARE SINKING. THERE ARE 7 PERSONS ONBOARD- OVER”

• Remember in your panic to release the transmit button while awaiting response!

• Wait 30 secs before sending a repeat, if you then get no response you are probably doing something wrong!

PAN-PAN example.

“PAN PAN, PAN PAN, PAN PAN”

“THIS IS PILOT GIG SPIRIT, PILOT GIG SPIRIT, PILOT GIG SPIRIT”
(short pause so any receiver can begin monitoring)

“MY POSITION IS 1 MILE SOUTH OF GRIBBEN HEAD. WE REQUIRE MEDICAL ASSISTANCE WE ARE HEADING FOR FOWEY HARBOUR OVER”

Await response and act accordingly

GENERAL

NCI Charlestown will normally respond on Ch65 unless in an emergency. They also monitor Ch16. They welcome all traffic to inform them of their movements. Use this as practice. Several Watch Keepers are known to us and are very willing to help. They may be called just to ask “radio check?” When you are on land in their vicinity call in and meet them.

Practice VHF radio use at every opportunity so that you are familiar when in race or emergency mode.

If you are on the water you may be able help others. Coastguard would rather be contacted early or when you are suspicious than too late. Always stay on the radio if there is a Mayday going on as you may be able to “Mayday relay”.

Remember to send a “stand down” if you leave the radio or are safely ashore etc.

If you make mistakes be polite.



Other radio traffic you may routinely hear whilst out in St. Austell Bay.

• Routine traffic between NCI Charlestown and NCI Polruan usually on Ch 65
• Routine traffic between Porthpean sailing club usually on Ch 37
• Routine traffic between fishermen, sailors and other vessels operating within the bay
• Routine traffic between the coastguard and other vessels
• Traffic between Fowey Pilots and Cargo vessels, approaching / leaving Fowey
• Maritime Safety Information Broadcasts (See Ch.10 section above)
• Securité messages from Warships exercising off the Dodman warning of live firing.
• Securité messages from the Coastguard warning of navigational safety issues.


Updated August 2015



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