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FCC online nightmare

Aug 20, 2010
1,399
Oday 27 Oak Orchard
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.
Thank you for the clarification on this. I was puzzled by the unique wording of the FCC with regards to who and where the license was required.
 
Jan 11, 2014
7,827
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
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. ......
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!"
The US, Canadian, and International frequencies are a bit different. The US frequencies and their purpose are listed here: http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=mtvhf

Most radio manuals also list them.

Why north? Let me list the reasons: Waupos Island, Main Duck Island, Endymion Island, Stella Bay, Kingston Brew Pub, legal Cuban Cigars and Rum. But the number 1 reason is the day job that we have to have to pay for our bad habits.
 
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DSqr

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Feb 27, 2010
36
Hunter 376 Racine, WI
Thanks for the help. I've been trying to download the forms for the last week or so and had just about given up. Let us know how your filing goes.
 
Aug 20, 2010
1,399
Oday 27 Oak Orchard
Thanks for the help. I've been trying to download the forms for the last week or so and had just about given up. Let us know how your filing goes.
Not sure whom you are addressing but with the help here and the Offshore Store link I am all squared away with my Restricted license. Didn't bother with the station license since I won't be enabling the DSC function. Glad to know I wasn't the only one going loop de loo on the FCC website.
 
Feb 17, 2006
5,102
Lancer 27PS MCB Camp Pendleton KF6BL
One thing I think needs clarification. That is the Station License and MMSI. The FCC states that if you can operate any kind of communications devise without a station license (or MMSI) such as...

marine VHF radios,
any type of EPIRB,
any type of radar,
GPS or LORAN receivers,
depth finders,
CB radio,
or amateur radio HF/VHF/UHF (an amateur license is required)

However, if one desires to install any of these communications devices, one is REQUIRED to obtain a station license...

marine radio with DSC capability
MF/HF single side-band radio (without DSC capability),
satellite communications,
telegraphy

Notice that these are the ONLY tools that need to be licensed by the FCC. By the letter of the law, if you have a sat phone or InMarSat system on your boat, you need to have a station license. Even if you have a Marine SSB radio that does not have DSC capability you still need a license.

So if you are blue water cruising and do not have any of the communications tools in the second part, no worries. If you do then get the license. If you have any amateur (ham) radio gear onboard, you best check the ARRL for reciprocal operating requirements before departing.

One more thing about satellite. Just because the satellite is in space, some countries do not allow satellite signals to land on their territory. This is known as 'landing rights' and one must make sure that you are authorized to use satcom while in territorial waters.

Ooh... this is so much fun. :)
 
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bgary

.
Sep 17, 2015
53
1985 Ericson 32-III Everett
However, if one desires to install any of these communications devices, one is REQUIRED to obtain a station license...

marine radio with DSC capability
Note that a radio does not have DSC capability until an MMSI is programmed into it. Until that programming is done, yes, the DSC circuitry is there but it is not enabled.

So.... I'm not a lawyer, haven't stayed in a Holiday Inn Express lately, and got a "negative" on my most recent IQ test, but... I'd argue that if there isn't an MMSI number programmed into your VHF, it isn't "DSC capable equipment".

$.02
 
Jan 11, 2014
7,827
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
Note that a radio does not have DSC capability until an MMSI is programmed into it. Until that programming is done, yes, the DSC circuitry is there but it is not enabled.
A small but important semantic difference. Most if not all VHF radios are now DSC capable, but until the MMSI number is entered, they are not DSC enabled.
 
Mar 5, 2012
152
Hunter 37-cutter Saint Augustine
Just a bit of fun but. at my dock there is probably 85 percent canadians (there a rude bunch) not very friendly but they come down in and around november, take there boat off the hard and fill up the marina with there junk.and then sail to parts unkown. come back and do the same year after year. now there is no one that checks them out radio lic, what person would want to punish you for having a safety device on your boat. so then do you need a lic, for a transponder eperb. boat or personal. emergency vhf, what are we terorist because we want to travel there waterway ? just like going to the bahamas (mo money mo money) thats what its about if they want to sieze your boat no problem they can dock it. feed you till they get tired of spending there money LOL. just like carrying a gun on a boat. criminals can! but not law abiding cruisers. personally I would rather stay in the US more places to see and you can go from hot weather to cold. and still be an American.
 
Jan 11, 2014
7,827
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
The reason radio operating licenses are required is that the airwaves are a shared resource. In order to have a functioning system there needs to be rules that we all can agree upon. Because some frequencies know no political boundaries, it is necessary to have international agreements.

Ship station licenses are just part of the regulations that help regulate the radio spectrum. You might ask what kind of issues are there? Amateur radio operators, especially those on the lower frequencies know all too well about their antennas interfering with TV broadcasts. Likewise we don't want any yahoo deciding to transmit on the frequencies that our cell phones use. So the spectrum gets regulated and we are able to access and use our radios with minimal interference. We may not think of it as such, but all of our wireless devices rely on the radio frequency spectrum.
 
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CYQK

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Sep 11, 2009
497
beneteau first 42 kenora
bgary
Thanks for taking the time to post your experience with all of this
Had been putting all of this off and your links worked great made it simple
This is exactly why I tune in at 5:00 in the morning every morning to this site
Can't learn this anywhere else

Gary
 

bgary

.
Sep 17, 2015
53
1985 Ericson 32-III Everett
Glad to help!

One other learning I'll pass along: it is easy to program an MMSI number into a VHF, but it is a pain in the butt to get that number out so you can program a different one in. You or I cannot clear an MMSI out of the radio, it has to be cleared by the manufacturer.

Which means pulling the radio out of the boat, packing it up, sending it to the manufacturer. In my case (a new-to-me boat with a radio installed), it would have cost over $100 to have the previous owner's MMSI cleared out of the radio so that I could program my MMSI in. And (they told me) it would be 6-8 weeks before I had my radio back.

I mention this for those who are thinking about going the Boat-US route to get a domestic-only MMSI. If there is *any* chance you'll be traveling to international waters and want to be fully compliant, think about getting that FCC MMSI now... because it is painful to change from a domestic MMSI to an international MMSI once it is programmed into the radio.

In my case, it was cheaper and easier to just get a new radio. Seems like a waste of time and money at first glance, but a new radio (on sale) was about $100, and I would have had to pull the old one to send it back to the manufacturer anyway, so.... why not just put in a new one?

B
 
Aug 20, 2010
1,399
Oday 27 Oak Orchard
Scay rew dat. Anybody want to buy a never used Standard Horizon GX1300? Make me an offer. Cost of radio-145.00 Cost of Restricted license 65.00 Cost of Ship's Station license-215.00 Total 425.00 The requirement by the FCC is for both Ship's Station and Restricted Operators licenses. Cost of an EPIRB 350.00 with no requirement to license. One and done. Talked to the FCC today and yes the two licenses are required by the U.S. regardless of the Canadian requirements. Not happening, not now, not ever and I won't be complaining about the cost of flares ever again. The additional bonus is not having to monitor the thing and listen to the idle chit chat.
 
Feb 14, 2014
5,706
Hunter 430 Waveland, MS
The additional bonus is not having to monitor the thing and listen to the idle chit chat.
I loved this post because it made me double check my ICOM 0504 , water proof (transmits on a sinking vessel), DSC/MMSI Coast Guard Registered by my Boat Name and Call Sign WMExxxx , 100 mile range (proven), GPS equipped, fog horn and hailing signals, Megaphone, Canadian Band ready....SAFETY DEVICE!

FINE ME! (if Martha made a distress call on Mary's radio)

If it saves anyone, it is worth the licensing risk fine. The DSC receives OTHERS in distress too!

In addition to Marine weather, local fishing Captains telling secret spots, USCG hazards warning and assistant calls, cargo ships maneuvering calls are useful.
Jim...

PS: I think the USCG re-register fee was $60 plus an annual renewal fee. Seems minor when it cost me $200 to replace my shaft zincs.

@25yearslater donate your GX1300 to the Boy Scouts.
 
Jan 11, 2014
7,827
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
Let me see if I understand you correctly. For what amounts to $75 you are giving up the benefits of a VHF? Benefits like NOAA Weather Forecasts, Weather warnings, the ability to communicate with nearby boats in case of an emergency on your boat or another's, the ability to communicate with the USCG in case of trouble, and since you plan to travel to Canada roaming charges on your cell phone when you call ahead to the marina? There are probably more reasons, but those come to the top of my head.

Cellphones are not a substitute for VHF radios in an emergency because they are private. Because VHF is public, if you have a serious but not life threatening emergency other vessels may come to your aid long before the CG does. Also, there is a good chunk of Lake Ontario that does not have cell phone coverage, if something happens and you're in that area you are SOL.

EPIRBs are great when there is a major emergency and life is at risk, but what about lesser emergencies, like a broken bone, concussion, severe laceration, dismasting, or any number of other accidents that can occur. In these situations are you going to trigger the EPIRB and the massive and expensive SAR operation because the skipper broke his arm and can't steer the boat?

What about the fellow boater a mile or two away who needs assistance, without a radio you may never know and won't be able to render assistance.

I'm no fan of the idle chit-chat on the radio especially during Salmon Season when everyone is bragging or complaining about the fishing. If you keep the radio on Channel 16 that nonsense is kept to a minimum. And then there is entertainment value, like last summer when a boater ran around on a shoal near a Canadian island and wanted the USCG to come rescue him. Dude, no one is dying so we're not coming and you're in Canadian waters (and not the 1000 islands).

As a piece of safety equipment, a VHF near the top of the list, way above an EPIRB for the waters we sail in. Flares are a poor substitute, they are great for helping to locate a boat in distress if you know you're looking for a boat in distress. The burn time for an aerial flare is pretty short, the odds of someone randomly seeing one when it is shot and then knowing what to do is pretty small. And what if the boater that saw a flare and knew what to do, didn't have a VHF to call the CG? Flares are great to help someone find you that is looking for you, not so much otherwise.

So, for $75 you're going to forego these benefits, a ship's license is good for 10 years and a radio for at least that long, that's $7.50 a year. You can't even buy a decent six pack of beer for that kind of money. Cheap insurance for you and your fellow Lake Ontario boaters.

Of course you can just not license the radio or yourself and hope no asks. I've never been asked in 32 years of Lake Ontario sailing, but there is always a first time.
 
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Aug 20, 2010
1,399
Oday 27 Oak Orchard
Sorry dlochner, not going to get an EPIRB right away either. The only time I would use that is the boat going out from under the folks I sail with, burning to the waterline or someone requiring CPR. Don't own a cell phone either. I just can't reconcile the total cost for the radio and the license that the host country (Canada) doesn't require. I didn't even include the antenna cost so this would easily exceed 500.00. Then since my HP notebook and OpenCPN won't interface with the damn thing the DSC feature is worthless anyway unless I add another 'marinized' GPS at some ridiculous expense just in case some 1 in a million event happens and the 1000.00 plus I would sink into this would be better spent on making sure that remote event doesn't happen. I will just sail over, pull in and cheerfully report to customs and that won't cost a dime. P.S. For sale in gear adds.
 
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CYQK

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Sep 11, 2009
497
beneteau first 42 kenora
Bgary
OK.... got the station lic back no prob but the other license still has not come
what next?
Gary
 
Aug 20, 2010
1,399
Oday 27 Oak Orchard
Not to over ride you question CQ but here is my crusade at this point. I contacted Chris Collins my U.S. representative to urge the repeal of the FEE the FCC is charging. I am following up with this as the licensing fees are an impediment to more people either complying or installing radios all together. Even the CG is disturbed by the number of DSC equipped boats not being registered. I also contacted the CG to request their efforts to repeal the FEE and here was their reply:
Good day,

Thank you for contacting the USCG Navigation Center. It is not the FCC or the USCG that requires this. It is the International Radio Regulations. The position of the USCG and the FCC is that a DSC radio offers tremendous help in the event of a distress. Considering the price of boats it does not make sense that $285 would be a burden considering it could save your life. Please do not hesitate to contact us again with any further questions, comments, or concerns you may have regarding this issue.

We hope this addresses your inquiry. In our continuing efforts to provide high quality services to our customers, please let us know if you found the provided answer helpful.

Sincerely,

USCG Navigation Center
Navigation Information Service
NAVCEN MS 7310
7323 Telegraph Road
Alexandria, VA 20598 - 7310
Tel: 703-313-5900
www.navcen.uscg.gov

Lovely attitude. Grand to see they are so cavalier with someone else's money. I didn't realize we were all wealthy 1% ers. Needless to say this was also forwarded to Mr. Collins. Considering the costs associated with all the other mandatory safety equipment it easily adds up to thousands of dollars. Remembering that a radio doesn't remove the obligation to carry flares that expire regularly? I am not suggesting any safety equipment is frivolous but the fees surrounding boat ownership are ridiculous in my estimation. Does anyone believe we are going to see mass layoffs of federal employees if the costs were removed? I highly doubt it. The bottom line is, what are we getting for our money? With DSC equipped vessels the CG has essentially relegated distress assistance to us. Quixotic perhaps but do nothing and I am sure sailors and power boaters alike will become an even bigger cash cow. Remember the luxury tax of the eighties? Pretty much killed most manufacturers.
 
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Jan 11, 2014
7,827
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
Ya know, I have to agree with the USCG and FCC. $65 for a lifetime license and $21 a year for a station license is not all that much money. I think I pointed that out before. And the service is quite efficient, taking just a few hours from filing the applications to obtaining the license. Who says government can't do things efficiently?

Why should I as a taxpayer pay the costs associated for you to obtain a license that is required by international agreements? Especially as recreational boating is certainly a self-chosen option that is in many people's view a luxury. If there were some greater good to the community, then perhaps. And in the case SAR operations, maintaining aids to navigation, and coastal security, we taxpayers do pay and do require we boaters to pay additional fees. But in these cases, there is a community benefit and so the community should pay.

This is a sailing forum, not a political one. Perhaps the thread should be closed.