Hotel Echo Lima Papa = ?

Hotel Echo Lima Papa = ?

October 31, 2018 Boating Safety sailing Sailing news vhf 0

Communication is a Two-way Process,

How do we communicate with other people when sailing? Wave?

There is an old joke about a swimmer gesticulating frantically, ‘Is he waving or drowning?

Any right-minded person would assume the worst and go to their assistance just in case. However, it does make a valid point about communication. According to studies only 7% of our communication is verbal, whilst 55% is physical nonverbal, and the remaining 38% is tone or the way that we say it. Next time you have a conversation with someone try and mentally step back and check this out, for example, to a child if you say stop in a conversational tone, they probably will continue doing whatever they are doping, however, if Mom or Pa says ‘STOP!’ in command mode (especially Mom) chances are they will stop what they are doing.

My point is that communications become more difficult when we cannot see the other person with whom we are trying to communicate, and that applies to people who sail or fly etc. Therefore, we need to communicate clearly in a way that says what we need to say succinctly and in a commonly understood format. NB. No slang, profanities, or offensive language.

Sailing is great fun for all our boating friends but doing so without a means of communicating when things go wrong is counter intuitive. OK, coastal boaters in familiar waters may say, ‘who needs a radio?’, whilst serious boaters would not go to sea without. Online communications are superb and have a part to play increasingly, however for the moment let’s look at radio comms because they are still the most effective means of communication for most boating folks.

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A Marine Radio is a VHF (very high frequency) radio that operates between 156 and 174mega Hertz, in some countries additional channels are used. Marine radio is installed as standard on larger ships and on the majority of sea-going boats (and on some inland waters too), marine radios are vital in calling for assistance in an emergency plus contacting Marinas and Harbours. Marine sets are transceivers allowing two-way contact, only operating on standard frequencies or channels. Channel 16 – 156.8 MHz being the international distress channel. Transmission power ranges between 1 and 25 watts, giving a maximum range  5 nautical miles (9 km; 6 mi) between aerials mounted on small boats at sea level. FM or  Frequency modulation used, with vertical polarization, meaning that antennas have to be vertical in order to have good reception.

Modern-day marine VHF radios offer basic transmit and receive capabilities, check with your chandlery or specialist supplier for advice on the best choice for your needs. Permanently mounted marine VHF radios on seagoing vessels are required to have certification of some level of “Digital Selective Calling” (DSC) capability, to allow a distress signal to be sent with a single button press.

That’s the tech stuff, we urge all sea going boaters to not only make sure their marine radio is in good working order but that they are aware of how to use it before setting sail.

To facilitate communication when using your marine radio it helps to remember that a/ pronunciation is very important, b/ language – ensure that you use recognisably language – and keep to the rules for language use, and c/ because you cannot see the other person you are down to 7% of your communications capability so making yourself understood is paramount. Speak clearly and check regularly that the recipient understands.

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English language is universally used in marine communications although this may not always be the case at a local level – where many boaters do their sailing.

To make communications easier in English the NATO phonetic alphabet to enunciate words that could be misunderstood, the words ‘red and read’, ‘wood – would’, for example.

 Alfa, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, India, Juliett, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, X-ray, Yankee, Zulu.

Hotel Echo Lima Papa = Help for example.

Professional advice and tuition in the use of Marine Radio is a life saver, literally, do not go to sea in any vessel without knowing the basics.

Sail safe.


Author: R. Langley