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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Poole
    Posts
    482

    Default An infuriating national obsession- radio checks

    We returned to Poole from Alderney yesterday, the last leg of a fine 4 week summer cruise, which took us to S Brittany

    As we came into VHF range of Solent Coastguard I quickly lost count of the number of radio check responses broadcast by the overworked, and very patient, coastguard. For the previous few weeks I had not heard a single radio check request to the French coastguard.

    To make matters worse, the U.K. registered boat that had left Alderney at the same time as us waited until they were through the shipping lanes (where arguably there might be the need to clarify the intentions of an oncoming ship) before deciding to contact Solent to ask for a radio check!

    So why do the Brits have this curious obsession and how do the French /Dutch /Belgians/ Germans manage to sail safely without continual anxiety over their radios?

    Do we have Marine VHF related OCD? Is this behaviour encouraged as part of the RYA VHF exam? Is it just a S Coast /Solent phenomenon? Do people think it's good practice, or are they bored? Hasn't anyone heard of National Coastwatch being happy to respond on Ch 65 if you really aren't sure about your set?

    Rant over.

    Answers on a postcard please.
    Last edited by GrahamD; 24-07-18 at 18:29. Reason: Grammar
    No need to struggle with sail handling. Go 4 speed.
    www.pontoswinches.co.uk.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Here or there
    Posts
    76,942

    Default Re: An infuriating national obsession- radio checks

    Over the past 40 yrs my various VHF sets have never failed to work.
    Blame the sailing skools

    [So why do the Brits have this curious obsession and how do the French /Dutch /Belgians/ Germans manage to sail safely without continual anxiety over their radios? ]
    Ditto red / Bio diesel
    Brexit: ‘taking back’ what we had never lost, in order to lose everything we had...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Farnham, Surrey
    Posts
    21,407

    Default Re: An infuriating national obsession- radio checks

    Quote Originally Posted by sailorman View Post
    Over the past 40 yrs my various VHF sets have never failed to work.
    Blame the sailing skools

    [So why do the Brits have this curious obsession and how do the French /Dutch /Belgians/ Germans manage to sail safely without continual anxiety over their radios? ]
    Ditto red / Bio diesel
    What's with accusing the schools?

    I've worked for several and examined for a load more and I've never heard of any of them encouraging radio checks.
    Semper aliud

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Northern Ireland
    Posts
    11,478

    Default Re: An infuriating national obsession- radio checks

    SEEms a nonsense to me. Never done it in my life, don’t intend to. VEry rarely hear it in Norn Iron or Scotland. Seems to be an ENGLish obsession

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    38,275

    Default Re: An infuriating national obsession- radio checks

    The flip side is that there are a lot of people out there, who when push comes to shove, won't be sure if their radio works.
    There are a lot of threads on here related to duff aerials and coaxs.
    It's not like a mobile phone which shows you 5 bars of signal from Vodafone or whatever.
    I see a lot of things on boats not working properly. Engines, blocks, bogs, lights, cookers...
    Why assume that a ten year old two way wireless works unless you personally have witnessed it?

    There is a balance. The real problem is that many/most people have zero reason to use the VHF to transmit? They have no mates who they know are listening so how else do they make sure the wretched thing works?
    Having worked in military radio, where it was quite common to phone people on their mobiles to ask them why they didn't respond on the secure voice network, I can sort of see it fom both sides.
    I must admit, I just switch the VHF off if there's too many radio checks.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Boat: Falmouth. Work: Cambridge
    Posts
    1,385

    Default Re: An infuriating national obsession- radio checks

    By coincidence the CA issued this note this morning. It arose from one of their frequent meetings with the MCA (who are much too polite to say so but do not find 'radio check please' calls entirely welcome at busy times).

    CA House London:

    The Cruising Association's RATS (Regulations and Technical Services) Committee has been in discussion with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) about the use of calls to HMCG on Channel 16 requesting radio checks.

    RATS has anecdotal evidence of a proliferation of such requests and that these seemed to have spread from the Solent to other areas and Falmouth in particular.

    Speaking on behalf of RATS, Robin Baron said, "It seems to us that this is not best use of HMCG resources at a time when we know that they are hard pressed with other more important issues including particularly Search and Rescue."

    Robin continues, "The MCA have confirmed that radio checks should primarily be conducted with local marinas and nearby vessels. Radio checks with HMCG should not be a first resort as it ties up the air and increases operator workload."

    RATS' own research has confirmed that radio checks with other vessels or shore stations at 1W power and at a distance of around 8 miles provide a much better test of antenna and radio set performance.

    Their recommendation is that radio checks should be carried out primarily with marinas and other shore stations or with other vessels. National Coastwatch Institute (NCI) shore stations are usually well placed for such calls which should be made on Channel 65.
    Last edited by jdc; 25-07-18 at 08:58.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    Boat: Portsmouth, Us: Stewkley
    Posts
    3,018

    Default Re: An infuriating national obsession- radio checks

    Nothing to add.

    Just making sure my account works...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Home UK Midlands / Boat Croatia
    Posts
    20,426

    Default Re: An infuriating national obsession- radio checks

    Quote Originally Posted by Ruffles View Post
    Nothing to add.

    .................................................. ........
    Please say again all after "add". Over

    Richard

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    The land of the Medway
    Posts
    2,031

    Default Re: An infuriating national obsession- radio checks

    Quote Originally Posted by Ruffles View Post
    Nothing to add.

    Just making sure my account works...
    10/10 for comedy!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
    Brum or aboard darn sarf now
    Posts
    48

    Default Re: An infuriating national obsession- radio checks

    Quote Originally Posted by john_morris_uk View Post
    What's with accusing the schools?

    I've worked for several and examined for a load more and I've never heard of any of them encouraging radio checks.
    Agreed, my solent based instructor last year made a point of suggesting other methods of radio checking, including the NCI. When i joined a friends boat in my old sailing grounds of North Wales I felt the need to check his VHF was switched on as it was so quiet with the lack of radio checks

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