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VHF DSC radio Jargon buster

The VHF DSC Radio jargon buster

AIS – Automatic Identification System

This system is used by shipping. It allows another vessel or coast station to use equipment that can interrogate the radio in order to learn the course, speed, type of vessel, cargo, etc. It is also available to recreational vessels.

ALRS

Admiralty List of Radio Signals

ATIS

Automatic Transmitter Identification System

Authorised Operator

The person with the VHF Short Range Certificate who also has an Authority to Operate.

Callsign

Unique letter/number vessel identification number

CG66

Coastguard Yacht and Boat Safety Scheme form

Convention ships

Cargo vessels over 300 Gross Registered Tons and passenger ships that carry 13 or more people.

COSPAS/SARSAT

A satellite-aided search and rescue system designed to locate EPIRBS transmitting on 406 MHz.

Distress

A situation when a vessel, vehicle, aircraft or person is in grave and imminent danger and requests immediate assistance.

DSC

Digital Selective Calling

DTI

Department of Trade and Industry

Dual watch

A facility that allows you to monitor CH16 and one other channel at the same time.

Duplex

Radio working that uses two antennas for working on a two frequency VHF channel.

EPIRB

Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon

GHz

Gigahertz

GMDSS

Global Maritime Distress and Safety System

GMT

Greenwich Mean Time

GPS

Global Positioning System

HF

High Frequency

IMO

International Maritime Organisation

INMARSAT

International Mobile Satellite Organisation

ITU

International Telecommunication Union

Mayday

Distress signal. Origin French – m’aidez – help me.

MF

Medium Frequency

MHz

Megahertz

MMSI

9-digit Maritime Mobile Service Identity

Navtex

Maritime safety information broadcast received on 518 KHz and 490kHz as text.

NBDP

Narrow Band Direct-Printing, see Navtex

NMEA interface

Marine industry standard method of connecting one piece of electronic equipment to another, eg GPS with autopilot. Pan Pan–Urgency signal. Origin French – en panne – in difficulty.

PTT

Press to transmit switch

Public Correspondence

Telephone communications

Radio Check

Test call that asks ‘What is the strength and clarity of my transmission?’.

Radio horizon

The distance the radio signal will travel before it reaches the horizon.

RX

Receive

SAR

Search and Rescue

Securite

Safety signal. Origin French – sécurité – safety.

Semi-Duplex

Radio working that uses one antenna to switch between two frequencies on one channel. One frequency for transmitting, the other for receiving.

Simplex

Radio working that uses the same frequency for transmitting and receiving.

Squelch

A radio control that suppresses background interference.

Traffic

Radio messages

TX

Transmitting

UHF

Ultra High Frequency (300–3000MHz)

UKCG

UK Coastguard

Urgency

A situation that is not grave and imminent but serious.

UTC

Universal Co-ordinated Time. This is also known as GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). This is the basis for all calculations of time and it is the time shown on the display of a VHF-DSC radio. Times around the world are all related to UTC.

VHF

Very High Frequency

Voluntary Fit

Vessels that are not ‘Convention Ships’ (see Convention Ships).

VTS

Vessel Traffic Services

Watt

A measure of power output

Find out more about VHF DSC radio operation:

VHF DSC radio operation

Reeds VHF DSC Radio App

Nautical paper charts – a reminder of the basics

The nautical chart is an indispensable tool for navigation. A chart is a graphic representation of an area of the sea which might also include coastlines, estuaries and islands. All cruising leisure boats should carry up-to-date paper charts.

Marine toilets – care and maintenance

There are a number of different types of marine toilet, or heads. They fall into one of three categories – manual, electric and vacuum, the most common being the manual, hand pumped type. These have double acting piston-pumps which both discharge the waste and flush the toilet with sea water.

Sail care and maintenance – Part 2

At the end of the sailing season sails should be washed and inspected carefully for damage, including small tears, stitching failure, ultraviolet damage, stains and mildew.

Boat decks and superstructure

The deck of a boat is constantly exposed to the elements and should be inspected on an annual basis. Particular attention needs to be given to the overall condition of deck fittings such as the stanchions, cleats and chainplates.

Essential Knots: Bowline

Essential Knots: Bowline Use: Making a secure eye or loop in the end of a rope. Bowlines have many uses on a boat, for example to make a...

Essential boat engine checklist

Boat engine checklist Engine oil level check Even if you have checked it previously, confirming the engine oil level is up...

Feeling anxious at sea

  Some people feel anxious at sea. Will they be seasick? What if they get caught in a violent storm? Could the boat...

Boat electrics

All boat owners should have a basic knowledge of electrics, both to avoid encountering electrical problems at sea and to stand a chance of solving them should they occur.

Understanding marine sealants & adhesives

Sealants, adhesives and adhesive sealantsThere is a bewildering variety of sealants, adhesives and even adhesive sealants available for...

ColRegs Nav Lights & Shapes, Rules Of The Road and IALA Buoys Apps

ColRegs Nav Lights & Shapes, Rules Of The Road and IALA Buoys Apps Make Learning Rules on iPhone, iPad, iPod and Android...

How to operate a winch

Winches are drum shaped mechanical devices used to handle halyards, sheets and control lines. One of the important crew...

Boat engine cooling systems

Some boat engine breakdowns are unavoidable but those caused by lack of maintenance or regular checks can be avoided. Failure to maintain an engine’s cooling system is a well known example of this, so it is well worth spending time checking over the cooling system both when the boat is ashore and afloat.

Top five windvane self steering installation questions

Top five windvane self steering installation questions answered by Sarah Curry of Hydrovane International Marine, courtesy of Viki Moore from Island Cruising NZ

Boat batteries

Under-sized battery banks are one of the key factors behind power failure at sea, as well as the premature failure of batteries, so make sure that your boat battery measures up to the use you want to put it to.

Essential Knots: Figure of eight

Essential Knots: Figure of eight Use: Stopper knot, prevents a rope from being pulled through a hole e.g. through a block or...

Competent crew skills: mooring lines

Mooring lines are used when arriving or leaving a berth. One of the most important competent crew skills is to know how to...

Boating Rules of the Road – International ColRegs

    International ColRegs Rule 7: Risk of Collision Anyone who is responsible for a vessel at sea, from the...

How to trim a genoa sail

I recently had two new sails made by Sanders Sails, based in Lymington UK. The first to arrive was the new genoa and it took me a little while to get to know it and learn how to adjust it correctly. Here is an aide memoire for getting to know how to trim a genoa so that it will deliver the best performance.

Sailing into a storm

Weather forecasting has become increasingly accurate, but despite this, I was caught out recently by a forecast that considerably underestimated the wind strengths and consequently was sailing single handed in to a Force 8 gale, which proved to be challenging!

Hourly Checks when sailing or motoring

  Hourly Checks Get into the habit of carrying out these checks and both yourself, your crew and your boat will be...

Steel hull maintenance

A steel boat owner’s biggest enemy is corrosion. You don’t have to worry about osmosis or rotting timbers, instead rust is the number one issue that will keep you awake at night.

Boat maintenance – what does it involve?

The maintenance of a boat involves things like cleaning, varnishing, painting, polishing, antifouling, servicing the engine, servicing the seacocks, and maintaining the gas and plumbing systems. It all amounts to a fairly considerable amount of work that can’t be ignored if you are to keep your boat in a safe and good condition.

Narrowboating on the Kennet and Avon Canal

A recently cancelled sailing event I was due to take part in left us with a free weekend in the diary. Given that my wife and I were celebrating a bumper wedding anniversary and the weather forecast was for fine weather, we decided to hunt around for a last minute canal holiday.

Liferafts

Liferafts should be stowed where they are ready for immediate launching. All crew should know the location of the liferaft and know how to launch, inflate and board it. They should also know what equipment it contains.

First aid at sea basics

At least one person on board should be trained in first aid and know how to administer the contents of the first aid kit, ensuring there are adequate supplies for the planned duration of the trip.