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FCC online nightmare

Nov 8, 2014
151
MacGregor 26S Chateauguay
Contrary to some anarchists who would like to see all regulations abolished :) I am in favor of some form of compulsory basic training for radio operators and boaters. There are a lot of working boats out there and they can't have a channel taken up by people using VHF for private gossip, especially if they choose any free channel they find without regard to their assignation. Believe it or not, some idiots don't even know that channel 16 is reserved for distress calls and hailing. They don't know that once you hail someone on 16 you must then switch channel.
Police show watchers insist in using stupid voice procedures like "10-4" and 'Roger That', "over and out" and, things like I heard this summer " halloooo, halloooo is anybody there, we just hit a rock and broke my shaft!" and then didn't even know where he was on the lake ...the water is full of people who think they are driving cars but believe that any form of training is totally unnecessary.
 
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Nov 8, 2014
151
MacGregor 26S Chateauguay
Hi all,
I know of a Canadian who was boarded by the USCG in US waters and had all of his VHF radios permanently confiscated for not having a station license. Must have come across that cranky official that's been talked about. This form of enforcement didn't make sense to me, as the radio is supposed to be a type of "safety equipment" and removing it lessens one's safety. I thought a fine would have been more appropriate ( or how about just a written warning). Just mentioning this to let you know what is possible.
Regards,
Could have been a real a..hole or your friend probably really pissed him off, probably wasn't flying the US courtesy flag or was rude or something like that... This incidents are very rare!
 
Jan 11, 2014
7,827
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
Could have been a real a..hole or your friend probably really pissed him off, probably wasn't flying the US courtesy flag or was rude or something like that... This incidents are very rare!
When I hear stories like this I'm inclined to believe that there is more to the story than is being reported.

My lead foot has caused me to have my fair share of discussions with authorities. In the vast majority of the cases the authorities saw my point of view and my insurance rates did not rise.

We could probably start an interesting thread on "Cranky People in Uniforms."
 
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Nov 8, 2014
151
MacGregor 26S Chateauguay
When I hear stories like this I'm inclined to believe that there is more to the story than is being reported.

My lead foot has caused me to have my fair share of discussions with authorities. In the vast majority of the cases the authorities saw my point of view and my insurance rates did not rise.

We could probably start an interesting thread on "Cranky People in Uniforms."
And now you have to be extra careful... The Canadian Border Agency was recently issued firearms...they are armed and dangerous!!! Of course they may ask your permission before shooting :) The Coast guard is unarmed but Canadian Fisheries have 50 cals on their boats, shows where our priorities lie!
 
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Feb 17, 2006
5,102
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
There is a very liberal reciprocal arrangement between the US and Canada. You will simply ID as VEx/KG6HOG with VEx being the prefix for the Province / Territory from which you are operating, such as VE2 for Quebec. You do not need any other permits.
Remember that though you are on a US vessel, since you are in Canadian territorial waters Canada’s frequency allocations dictate what frequencies from which you can operate.

This is the response I got from ARRL. I am waiting for the clarification about people that do not hold an armature license.
Sterlinghuff, this is true if one is dealing only with Amateur Radio licensing. In the case of this discussion, we are talking about the use of Maritime VHF systems, not Amateur Radio VHF systems. However, do be careful with your Amateur Radio license when abroad. Unless it is Amateur Advance or Amateur Extra Class, it may not be valid/recognized in CEPT countries.
 
Aug 20, 2010
1,399
Oday 27 Oak Orchard
Even Phil is getting in on this one. Featured question with the maze. Fitting Phil, very fitting. What is apparent to even the most casual observer is the close relationship Great Lakes sailors share whether Canadian or American. Always a great deal of goodwill exhibited among folks from north or south of the border. Another observation I made is the unique situation we find ourselves in. Each is able to sail to a 'foreign country' in a very short time. Makes it nice for those not retired or flush with vacation time. My own preference is to comply with the host country's rules, regulations and customs for several reason none of which have anything to do with fear of enforcement. One: It shows you have respect for your host. Two: It leaves your host with a pleasant impression that maintains the goodwill we enjoy. Three: It is just good manners. The posts here reflect that attitude of friendly relations similar to two neighbors chatting over the fence. I do hope we have set an example that other sailors elsewhere will want to emulate. Even though we're frozen for six months of the year our hearts are some of the warmest anywhere.
 
Feb 17, 2006
5,102
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
So when you enter Canadian waters, do you announce your presence and if visiting a port, do you hoist the Q flag? Enquiring minds want to know. :)
 
Apr 21, 2009
8
O'Day 37 CC Windsor Lake St Clair
I have boated for 30 years in the Windsor, Ontario (Great Lakes) area. The distance from my dock to the USA can be measured in yards not miles. I cross over the imaginary line 100's of times per season. Things are a tad tighter since 9/11 but whether it is Canadian authorities or US authorities they seem to be interested mostly with alcohol and safety gear. I have never heard of or been asked personally to produce a licence for a radio. Just saying.
 
Jan 11, 2014
7,827
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
So when you enter Canadian waters, do you announce your presence and if visiting a port, do you hoist the Q flag? Enquiring minds want to know. :)
It probably varies with the port you enter. On the Great Lakes and in particular the St. Lawrence River people pass back and forth frequently. At least for the St. Lawrence area, and I assume similar areas near Detroit or the NW, you go to a port of entry, tie up and then call CBP. It can be a little more relaxed on the Lakes because, for the most part, are boats that come from the US. If you are entering Canada from somewhere else you have already cleared CBP or the US ICE.

For Great Lakes sailors I think the radio license issue is a non-issue until the stuff hits the fan. If the kid gets on the VHF and says stupid stuff, or there is an accident, or some other reason to draw attention to the lack of a license, it probably doesn't matter. As BoatUS says, its required, but not enforced, enter at your own risk.

If you want to get in trouble with either the US or Canadian Authorities on the Great Lakes, make sure your head discharges overboard. :)

Interesting that you can legally discharge human waste overboard directly but you can't put it in a bucket first. But that's another thread.
 
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Aug 20, 2010
1,399
Oday 27 Oak Orchard
So when you enter Canadian waters, do you announce your presence and if visiting a port, do you hoist the Q flag? Enquiring minds want to know. :)
This is an interesting subject Brian, one I found out about after an across and back without stopping. We are supposed to contact the Canadian Customs and Border Service as soon as we cross the border by telephone unless we have 'free passage' privilege. That is leaving one port and proceeding to another port that is not the same and results in crossing the border. Applies to Canadian and American boats alike. This is the rule that resulted in the impounding of 3 American boats up in the Thousand Islands area and the $1000 fine. It is also one of the most ignored rules. If unable to raise Customs we are to proceed to the nearest port and declare our arrival. The U.S. requires reporting if any of the following situations occur: Make a port of call, anchor or make physical contact with a boat who's voyage originated in Canada, such as a raft up or transfer of a fine Labatt's Blue. Not too subtle of a hint there. Here is an attachment of a voyage that requires the call in which I was unaware and could have resulted in a serious bad situation. Here is the Canadian requirement: http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/travel-voyage/pb-pp-eng.html One more thing: http://www.boatus.com/magazine/2013/February/reports-crossing-into-canada.asp
 

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Nov 8, 2014
151
MacGregor 26S Chateauguay
It's a question of output, personal discharge has a low rate whereas a bucketload of stuff is a lot of stuff at once
 
Feb 21, 2008
6
Oday 302 Maple Bay
Canada no longer requires a station license, only requirement is that the operator have an operators certificate. I'm in the Power squadron, so know the latest rules. I doubt visitors would require one either.
 
Jun 21, 2015
4
Benneteau 49 kemah
Brian:
I thought that they might know since vhf is still in the frequencies we use. I have not heard back except what I quoted. I will post if I have an update from them. In the eastern and western Caribbean we all use or VHF and SSB without issues. North West Caribbean Net as the one I am most familiar with.
Sterling
s/v DocSea

P.S.: Why are we going North? Don't you guys know it is cold up there? Come South!!!!! As a believer in the prophet Jimmy Buffet, "If palm trees don't grow there, I don't go there!"
 
Oct 28, 2013
678
Hunter 20 Lake Monroe
I filled out the application online yesterday at lunch, gave them my 65 bucks and received a email back last night with a link to my Restricted Operators license. I will probably never need it but at least I have it now if I do.
I do have to say I am bit disappointed it was so easy to get. Had I at least had to read a few pages and take a 10 question multiple choice test I would have at least felt like I got a little something for my money. It is like getting a personal protection permit in Indiana. Give them your money and they give you the permit but you still have no clue where you can carry or can't and what is legal and what isn't. But they got their money. Now I still need to find out which frequencies are for what type of communication. Anyone have a good resource for that information. All I got from the Feds was my license, that I had to print myself. Go figure.

Sam in Indiana
 
Jan 11, 2014
7,827
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
This is an interesting subject Brian, one I found out about after an across and back without stopping. We are supposed to contact the Canadian Customs and Border Service as soon as we cross the border by telephone unless we have 'free passage' privilege. That is leaving one port and proceeding to another port that is not the same and results in crossing the border. Applies to Canadian and American boats alike. This is the rule that resulted in the impounding of 3 American boats up in the Thousand Islands area and the $1000 fine. It is also one of the most ignored rules. If unable to raise Customs we are to proceed to the nearest port and declare our arrival. The U.S. requires reporting if any of the following situations occur: Make a port of call, anchor or make physical contact with a boat who's voyage originated in Canada, such as a raft up or transfer of a fine Labatt's Blue. Not too subtle of a hint there. Here is an attachment of a voyage that requires the call in which I was unaware and could have resulted in a serious bad situation. Here is the Canadian requirement: http://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/travel-voyage/pb-pp-eng.html One more thing: http://www.boatus.com/magazine/2013/February/reports-crossing-into-canada.asp
The incident in the St. Lawrence caused quite a ruckus. Here's a link to an article:
http://blog.syracuse.com/outdoors/2011/06/canadians_expected_to_clarify.html
and a follow up article:
http://blog.syracuse.com/outdoors/2011/07/canada_agrees_to_let_american.html
 
Jul 18, 2015
42
South P10 Pugetopolis
Take the license course, and buy the station license. Like others , we took the operators license 4 hour course for fun, and we learned a lot. The radio is security for you and your crew, so take a minute to get up to speed with the entire system.

You will need your station license when you buy your AIS .

As for Canada, try telling the Canadians you don't need a stinking license when they catch you in area Whiskey Golf!

Cheers
 

bgary

.
Sep 17, 2015
53
1985 Ericson 32-III Everett
Lots of interesting interpretations here. I recently spent part of a day navigating the morass of FCC application processes, so I'll add mine ;-)

1) It is not at *all* clear from the FCC licensing page which license(s) one should get. The best information I found was at offshoreblue.com

http://www.offshoreblue.com/communic...o-operator.php
http://www.offshoreblue.com/communic...io-station.php

This is about the best info on the FCC site

http://wireless.fcc.gov/services/ind...=ship_stations

In broad terms, a pleasure boat (less than 300 tons, no commercial use, no passengers for hire) is not required to have a radio onboard … unless it will be visiting foreign ports and/or communicating with foreign stations, in which case it is required to have an FCC-licensed “station”.

AND, if you have a station license you are required to have an “operator’s permit” in order to operate that licensed station. That’s two separate licenses. The “station” license is associated with the boat and is good for 10 years, the "operator" license is associated with a person and is good for life

2)The FCC requires that you have an “FRN” (Federal Registration Number) in their “CORES” (Common Registration System) before you can do anything else. Fairly painless, and you get your FRN instantly

https://apps.fcc.gov/coresWeb/publicHome.do

3) Once you have your FRN, you can start applying for your licenses. The website is a hodge-podge of mixed messages – telling you which forms to use, and then encouraging you to use the ULS (“Universal License System”) paperless/online process.

*IF* you want to file on paper, the forms you’ll need are
-- 159, which is the authorization to process payments
-- 605 (main), which is the main form for all ship- and aviation licenses
-- 605 (supplemental), which gathers additional information (emergency contacts, etc)
-- Schedule B, which is the application for the Ship Station license
-- Schedule E, which is the application for the Restricted Radiotelephone Operator license
-- Schedule F, which is the application for a “temporary permit” – you don’t send this one in, you fill it out and sign it, and it serves as your “permit” (with temporary call-sign) for 90 days.

Based on advice from a friend, I printed out the paper copies of all the forms (and associated instructions) and filled them all out, just to make sure I knew which choices were appropriate and where I needed more information. It was a fairly useful exercise, if a bit mind-numbing.

4) BUT, the online (ULS) system is *much* less painful than the paper forms. Basically it walks you through the information-gathering and doesn’t make you fill in things that are not relevant to the kind(s) of license(s) you are applying for. With your FRN (and the information you need from the forms) in hand, go here

http://wireless.fcc.gov/uls/index.htm?job=home

… log into ULS, pick “online filing”, and select “apply for a new license” from the left nav-bar

5) One of the weirdnesses I encountered in the license process was the request for my boat’s “gross tonnage” – which in government terms has absolutely nothing to do with the boat’s weight or displacement. It’s a crude calculation of total volume (supposedly originating from a requirement to know how much cargo a vessel can carry), and is relatively simple math. There’s an online calculator at the USCG site I can point you to if you need it. My 32' 9800-lb sailboat worked out to something like 8 gross tons, 7 net tons.

6) I ended up having to go thru the online application process twice. Once for my station license application (service code SA “Ship, recreational or voluntarily equipped”, application purpose NE for “new”) and then a second time to apply for my “Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit” (service code "RR", application purpose "NE")

In each pass, when I was done with the application I was offered the option to make payment online, with a link to info about sending in a check if I preferred. The online payment was easy enough, and avoids having to fill out form 159, a truly horrendous form authorizing them to receive your payment. Total cost ended up being $280 (more than the cost of a good radio!). That breaks down as $65 for the station application, $65 for the operator application, and $150 “regulatory fee”.

7) I received both licenses (with associated call-sign and MMSI number) the next night, via email. Less-than-48-hour turnaround *seriously* surprised me, and, yes, you have to print them out yourself.

Note, no course was required for either of these licenses.

One key learning I’d add to this: If you have a DSC-capable radio and don’t already have the MMSI number required to enable that functionality, you have two choices – you can get your MMSI through the FCC as part of the “station” license, or you can get the MMSI assigned by Boat-US. The Boat-US process is easier (and undoubtedly cheaper), *BUT* - the MMSI number you get through Boat-US is *not* valid for international use, and cannot be converted to an FCC-recognized MMSI.

If you purchase an AIS unit, you *must* have your MMSI already so the AIS unit can be programmed by the manufacturer/dealer before it ships to you. My understanding is that because this is an FCC registration, only an FCC-issued MMSI will be accepted, but this is only anecdotal; I don't have a cite.

If you want an MMSI that is valid internationally, you’ll have to get it from the FCC. The likelihood of getting “caught” using a domestic-only MMSI while on a trip to the Gulf Islands (or whatever) is probably low, but… you should know there is a difference.

I have all my notes from going through this – if anyone gets bogged down in the process, let me know…happy to share how I ended up making the choices I made.

Bruce
 
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Aug 20, 2010
1,399
Oday 27 Oak Orchard
Great synopsis of the process bgary. It is a bit daunting without some sort of simplified tutorial to navigate the maze. You have explained this exceptionally well and like you I was amazed at the expeditious granting of the license by e-mail. I won't be using the DSC feature since Captain Cheapskate is using a notebook and opencpn for GPS which would require a herculean effort to interface. Maybe someday but not this day. Excellent explanation of how it is our government is requiring the license for foreign travel irrespective of laws in other countries. Again, great post that should be a sticky to help others navigate the FCC website.
 
Jan 11, 2014
7,827
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
Excellent explanation of how it is our government is requiring the license for foreign travel irrespective of laws in other countries.
This is not quite right. Other countries require foreign visitors to have a license, just as the US requires foreigners to have licenses to operate radios in US waters. The license is issued by the country in which you are a citizen. Each country sets its own standards for issuing licenses and then grants reciprocal privileges to licensed operators who are citizens of another country. It is similar to driver's licenses, Ohio recognizes my NY drivers license when I'm driving in Ohio.

With our neighbors to the north, it gets a little confusing because both the US and Canada do not require licenses to operate a VHF in domestic waters by a citizen, but they do require a license for non-citizens.

Edit: These rules are set by international treaty. If you operate an unlicensed radio in Canadian waters, the Canadian government will charge you, not the US government. In Canada it is legal for a US licensed operator to use a VHF in Canadian waters and illegal for a US citizen to operate an unlicensed VHF in Canadian waters and vice-versa.
 
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