DSC or Voice calls to HM Coastguard?

Mikehp0

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I heard an interesting chat on the VHF whilst in Plymouth a couple of weeks ago.

An older Yachtie type wanted to log a passage plan with Falmouth coastguard on channel 16. He explained that he'd not done this since the demise of Brixham coastguard and enquired whether Falmouth preferred contact to be made by DSC or simple voice on channel 16. He'd apparently made three DSC requests prior to his voice call which hadn't been acknowledged.

He was insistent that the coastguard confirmed whether his DSC requests had been received. The Coastguard seemed reluctant to confirm but did, eventually, concede that the requests had been received but were queued. The Yachtie asked whether Falmouth preferred DSC or voice - he added that Brixham had always preferred DSC.

The coastguard' officer's reply was "it is up to you, sir - but voice calls can save delays"

I've never made a DSC call to anyone - let alone HM Coastguard. I always use plain voice on 16 making it clear my call is "routine traffic". In the Solent area that normally results in a request to go to 67 and wait - often adding "you are number xx in the queue". Another officer then calls back.

What's everyone else's experience of this? Should we use DSC?
 

l'escargot

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I've only made two calls to Solent Coastguard in the last 5 years - both on quiet evenings to get a radio check on new installations and both voice calls. I've used 67 each time which I know they prefer for routine traffic. Why on earth would anyone want to file a passage plan Plymouth to Falmouth. Seems a bit anal to me.
 
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l'escargot

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Sorry if I've confused - no idea where the Yachtie was going - he was requested to change channels and I didn't follow.

Ah right. Even so, any passage plans to CG are pointless as they take no action if you don't report your arrival - only if someone else tells them you're overdue. The only time I would envisage initiating contact (apart from the rare circumstances above) would be in an emergency, which means it would most probably be by DSC.
 

prv

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I've used 67 each time which I know they prefer for routine traffic.

I was wondering about that the other day. Certainly the old Solent Coastguard wanted all routine traffic initiated on 67, and I believe they were unique in having an extra aerial on their masts and a dedicated listening watch for that purpose. Whereas quieter areas might not have had anyone monitoring their working channel until called on 16 and moved over.

Now that Fareham are running the show, I've noticed that they sometimes direct people to 67 and sometimes to 73 (Portland's old working channel), and lots of people are calling on 16 and stating "routine traffic" in the initial call, clearly expecting to be moved. With more working channels at their disposal, and presumably a desire to standardise since they're now operating half of the UK, does this mean that the Solent-only practice of calling direct on 67 is no longer preferred?

Why on earth would anyone want to file a passage plan Plymouth to Falmouth. Seems a bit anal to me.

I've heard one from Cowes to Lymington before :p

Pete
 

Firefly625

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On Sunday the French had taken over 67 as their own channel to have a long in-depth chat on. At no point did SCG tell them to get off the channel, they just seemed to move to 73 for the day, frenchies were still at it 4 hours later...

Wouldn't have been tolerated in the old days....
 

skyflyer

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sub-thread: if you call CG on DSC, once acknowledged the channel will auto switch to 67 (or other channel chosen by CG)

At this point I used to assume (as though I had been switched on voice from 16) that I am to standby and await their call

However Falmouth CG recently told me that they expect me to call them at that point, on the basis that I initiated the call

anyone confirm or deny that? Any reference anywhere?
 

skyflyer

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Ah right. Even so, any passage plans to CG are pointless as they take no action if you don't report your arrival - only if someone else tells them you're overdue. The only time I would envisage initiating contact (apart from the rare circumstances above) would be in an emergency, which means it would most probably be by DSC.


Not so: the person ashore to whom you have said - (words to the effect of) - if you don't hear from me by 22;00 tomorrow night call the CG will probably not be aware of exactly when you left, your ETA, whether you had taken on an extra crew member at the last minutes and so on.

However once he makes that call, then CG has the best possible info from which to DR your likely position and so on
 

l'escargot

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Not so: the person ashore to whom you have said - (words to the effect of) - if you don't hear from me by 22;00 tomorrow night call the CG will probably not be aware of exactly when you left, your ETA, whether you had taken on an extra crew member at the last minutes and so on.

However once he makes that call, then CG has the best possible info from which to DR your likely position and so on

It is so and you seem to be agreeing with me that the coastguard won't take any action until the third party calls them - I would have given the third party all the necessary information to pass on to the coast guard as I left and probably even spoken to them during the passage if I still had a mobile signal.
 
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skyflyer

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It is so as you seem to be agreeing with me that the coastguard won't take any action until the third party calls them - I would have given them all the necessary information to pass on to the coast guard as I left.

I do agree on that specific point yes, but whilst that's fine for you, if your shore contact has the time, capability, understanding and interest to take all that onboard, if I tell my 94 year old Mum to call the coastguard if i'm not home for dinner, she's not going to be of much use to them, especially if I decided at the last minute to leave on the earlier tide and took two friends who I hadn't originally been planning to take.

I'm merely saying that for some people, filing a passage plan with CG makes very good sense. Because you personally don't have a use for it, doesn't make it a complete waste of time for everyone.

(PS No, I dont I've at home with my 96year old mother - it was to illustrate a point :))
 

l'escargot

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Really, you would file a passage plan if you were planning to go out and be home for tea? You are just trying to justify an out of date practice with a hypothetical situation, even the coastguard will tell you that it is a waste of time filing a passage plan. People just seem to want to clutter the airwaves playing the intrepid voyager far too much these days...
 
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skyflyer

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No I am using a simplistic example to make my point and you are being obtuse. It doesn't take much imagination or intelligence to think of many genuine situations where it would be prudent and/or useful. The request to file a passage plan for foreign bound trips is a standard announcement preceeding MSI broadcasts
I have no axe to grind. I rarely file a passage plan but I can envisage plenty of circumstances where it would be useful. It is (effectively) taught as part of the VHF course
You are entitled to your opinion of course, but to make a blanket claim that they are always a complete waste of time is very shortsighted
I'm not going to convince you though as you are determined to "be right" no matter the evidence, so this is my last post on the subject
 

laika

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However Falmouth CG recently told me that they expect me to call them at that point, on the basis that I initiated the call

anyone confirm or deny that? Any reference anywhere?

Yes. And "Yes, kind of".

I asked the MCA about logging passage plans 4 years ago and got an email in reply the relevant part being this:

The preferred method is using a DSC Routine Alert followed by a voice conversation on whichever working channel you are directed to (your radio will be remotely set to the correct channel by the receiving station, you just need to pick up the microphone and talk as soon as the channel is shown on your set). The alternate method is by voice direct on channel 67 if in Solent area, all other Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres (MRCC) should be called on channel 16, where you will be directed to the working channel. (This is because Solent is the only MRCC that has a continual watch on 67). You may also pass the traffic report (TR) by routine telephone call if you wish

But no, don't have a link to any official documentation.

The times I've logged passage plans in the past have been for cross-channel trips at stupid o'clock in the morning so not long to wait before my DSC call was answered with a channel change. These days I don't bother. I have a reliable shore contact to whom I email the passage plan (yay for GSM connectivity), the time (and telephone number) at which to alert the coastguard if nothing is heard and he knows to mention that I have a CG66 logged. Any updates I'd email him before departure or if that weren't possible *then* I'd consider talking to the coastguard.
 
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Fantasie 19

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Really, you would file a passage plan if you were planning to go out and be home for tea? You are just trying to justify an out of date practice with a hypothetical situation, even the coastguard will tell you that it is a waste of time filing a passage plan. People just seem to want to clutter the airwaves playing the intrepid voyager far too much these days...

I'm not saying it's right or wrong, but certainly the skipper on the boat I sometimes crew on filed a passage plan with Solent Coastguard for a round the island trip we did a few years ago... Portsmouth to Portsmouth 12 hours..
 

l'escargot

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... These days I don't bother. I have a reliable shore contact to whom I email the passage plan (yay for GSM connectivity), the time (and telephone number) at which to alert the coastguard if nothing is heard and he knows to mention that I have a CG66 logged. Any updates I'd email him before departure or if that weren't possible *then* I'd consider talking to the coastguard.
Pretty much my position, my shore contact would have much more up to date information than any passage plan filed on departure and if I was going cross channel would probably have a couple of AIS updates as well...
 

l'escargot

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I'm not saying it's right or wrong, but certainly the skipper on the boat I sometimes crew on filed a passage plan with Solent Coastguard for a round the island trip we did a few years ago... Portsmouth to Portsmouth 12 hours..
And probably if you went back and checked the log for that day it would show he's still sailing (unless he is one of the very small percentage of people who go on to notify the CG of arrival)...;)
 

l'escargot

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...It doesn't take much imagination or intelligence to think of many genuine situations where it would be prudent and/or useful...

Better ones than the elderly mother with tea on the table perhaps? :cool:

The request to file a passage plan for foreign bound trips is a standard announcement preceeding MSI broadcasts...It is (effectively) taught as part of the VHF course...

I don't ever recall hearing one in Solent or Portland. They used to still teach link calls on VHF courses long after they became an oddity of the past.

I'm not going to convince you though as you are determined to "be right" no matter the evidence...
I could probably say the same...
 

prv

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The request to file a passage plan for foreign bound trips is a standard announcement preceeding MSI broadcasts

Really? I'm pretty sure I've never heard that, and I think I'd remember because I've always been curious about the CG's attitude to filing plans.

I was in Falmouth's area several times over the past couple of months, so they're not doing it at the moment.

I was there for a week each summer for four years about ten years ago. Don't think they were doing it then either.

When and where did you hear this request?

For what it's worth I can see the value of the Coastguard as holder of your plans if you want to leave info ashore and have nobody else reliable. That's the position I've seen in writing from them - use a friend or relative by default, but they're happy to take on the role if required. I've also seen an official MCA statement saying the idea that yachts should always file passage plans with the Coastguard "is not UK policy".

Pete
 
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