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Securite calls

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Last weekend during trip leader training one of the trainers put out a securite call on channel 73 (the working channel that day) to notifiy mariners that we were involved in rescue practice off the coast of Rockport, near Pebble Beach.

Securite calls are good calls to make if you want all mariners in the area to know that you are either in an escalating situation or that you are, say, in the open or in a channel in darkness or fog. Basically you broadcast either your situation (say, pre-hypothermic paddler, and you are drifting around and need other boaters to be sure not to run you down) or your intentions (you're crossing from point A to point B on course x in fog or low visibility, etc., and you want powerboaters nearby to get in touch so they don't run you down).

The keys to the securite call is to be sure you identify yourself so that interested parties can contact you directly AND to make the call on CHANNEL 16.

A couple of seasons back, a bunch of NSPNers were running rescue drills off Rockport's Granite Pier. They put out a securite call that the Rockport Harbormaster duly noted in their log. The NSPNers gave their location, what they were up to, and a callback sign ("NSPN"). The harbormaster really appreciated the call. It gave them a heads up were someone on shore to phone them with a kayakers in trouble call when, in fact, the paddlers were only practicing drills.

If I'm not incorrect, whoever made the securite call last week made it ONLY on channel 73. This doesn't accomplish much, as 73 is not monitored by the Coast Guard or local harbormasters. Nor is 73 (or 72 or 68, etc.) monitored by local boaters as a matter of course.

The ONLY channel on which to make a securite call (or a mayday or pan-pan, for that matter) is on channel 16. Channel 16 is the only channel all boats underway and all rescue personnel onshore monitor.

Don't mean to be a blowhard but, most important, 16 is the only channel that boats that carry VHFs are required to monitor. So if you want your call to be heard by everyone in the area, put it on 16. That's the beauty of 16. Since everyone is required to monitor it, it's the best way to contact everyone in the area who has a radio, has it turned on, and has it monitoring 16...who is in other words acting like a prudent and helpful boater.

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Good point, Adam. Also, I noticed the mention of the use of channel 73 as a working channel that day. Just for everyone's info, this channel is NOT authorized for non-commercial boater use. See the link for channel usage guidelines.


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