As the summer boating season approaches, Marine Rescue Narooma is preparing its volunteers and resources for another busy period both on and off the water.
With that in mind, Marine Rescue Narooma’s Deputy Unit Commander Paul Bourke recommends that all boaters carry or install a VHF radio equipped with Digital Selective Calling (DSC) and the Automatic Identification System on board.
“VHF radios are relatively inexpensive and offer a clear and powerful signal,” Mr Bourke said.
“A properly installed VHF radio also offers the added benefit of DSC, which enables the boater in distress to send a burst of essential data to help rescuers locate them.”
Once active, a VHF radio with DSC will send a vessel’s unique radio identification number known as a Maritime Mobile Service Identity. If the VHF radio is connected to GPS, the vessel’s latitude and longitude or last known position will be transmitted.
Distress calls can either be general or one of 10 pre-defined designations such as ‘flooding’, ‘sinking’ or ‘man overboard’. An effective feature of the DSC system is that it will continue to send a distress alert every 3 to 4 minutes until a Coast Station, such as the Marine Rescue Base in Narooma, acknowledges the alert.
All Marine Rescue NSW (MRNSW) units have Digital Select Calling capable radios and DSC forms a major component of the organisation’s expanding VHF network.
Boaters should always listen on VHF Channel 16 and make their initial call on Channel 16. The international channel is the “go to” channel for distress, safety and calling because it is constantly monitored.
Another advantage of VHF is that it supports the Automatic Identification System (AIS). Vessels equipped with AIS can transmit their position, course and speed via dedicated VHF channels. AIS data is shown on electronic charts in MRNSW radio bases.
Mr Bourke also encouraged all local and visiting boaters to join Marine Rescue Narooma’s (MRN) radio service and get a “N” (Narooma) call sign.
“Purchasing a Narooma call sign for $50 adds all your relevant contact details to the MRN file in case of an emergency response and supports the local Marine Rescue unit to fund its ongoing operations,” he said.
“I’m asking all boaters in the area or coming to enjoy our majestic waterways to consider getting a new VHF radio.
“VHF is now our primary calling and working frequency and the network provides 24 hour coverage both locally and through the network to Marine Rescue Sydney radio after hours.
“The new VHF sets are comparable in cost to the old 27.88 UHF sets, but offer far superior range and clarity of coverage.”
Finally, Marine Rescue Narooma encourages new members to join the organisation, particularly if you have marine and/or radio skills but also if you have a keen interest, as training is provided to all new volunteers in their respective area of interest.
Contact Marine Rescue Narooma on telephone 4476 1443.