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Proposed changes to Broadcast Notice to Mariners

May 17, 2004
Beneteau Oceanis 37 LE Havre de Grace
I read the following in this week’s USCG Local Notice to Mariners -
The Coast Guard is seeking comments regarding proposed changes to the Distribution of Scheduled Navigation Safety Messages (Broadcast Notice to Mariners) by Mobile and Internet methods.
In 2020, the Coast Guard began making broadcast notices to mariners containing locally relevant information accessible by mobile devices and the internet. Previously, the only way to obtain this information in a timely fashion was to tune in to local Coast Guard broadcasts that take place on very high frequency (VHF) marine radio two or more times per day. The new methods of information delivery have included Rich Site Summary, also known as Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds, email, and other means such as map-based filtering. The Coast Guard has received public feedback indicating that mariners prefer the real-time accessibility of mobile and internet access to this information over scheduled VHF broadcasts, because access is more timely, reliable, convenient, and customizable. Also, some mariners have reported that VHF broadcast notice to mariners are bothersome, because they are perceived as unnecessary radio clutter that can be distracting when maneuvering along a dock, in ports or other areas of congested traffic. The Coast Guard is considering phasing out the process of distributing this information by routine VHF radio broadcasts, and is seeking public comment.
Mariners are encouraged to visit the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal at Regulations.gov and search for docket number USCG-2020-0187
to view each document related to this proposed change. The direct link to the comment section for this docket is Regulations.gov.
Comments on this proposed change must be submitted on or before August 16, 2021.

I could see this either way. The notices certainly can add to radio chatter. They run on channel 22 for about 10 minutes twice daily, and specific notices are rebroadcast every hour or so with an intro on 16 each time.

On the other hand I don’t think the online-only notices would get disseminated to nearly as many boaters as the broadcasts, and there’s some risk there that people won’t know about safety messages around them. I tried the website with the “map based filtering” and wasn’t impressed. I can filter to “only” see notices in the Maryland NCR area - basically 70% of the Chesapeake.

I guess what I really want is neither of the existing solutions. I want a way to be given the information that’s relevant to me when I need it. I want to be able to say “I’m traveling from Havre de Grace to Baltimore on Friday; what notices affect my trip?”. But instead I have to choose between automatic VHF broadcasts of everything on the northern bay at 8 AM or actively seeking an online list of everything on the bay.
Jan 11, 2014
Sabre 362 113 Fair Haven, NY
It should be relatively easy to tag the NOTMs with smaller regions, such as taking by chart number. That would allow a user to list the charts of interest and receive the NOTMs for those charts.

Make the suggestion in the comments. Perhaps they will incorporate the idea in future planning.
Oct 1, 2007
Boston Whaler Super Sport Pt. Judith
All I can contribute to this is that the recorded NOAA marine weather broadcast is useless. There is much better, more timely, and complete information on the web, available in shore on phones. Could be a cost saving there.
Feb 26, 2004
Catalina 34 224 Maple Bay, BC, Canada
Because of where I sail (no phone coverage, nada, zip, zilch) and my complete lack of need for constant "connectivity", I find the VHF notices to be timely and useful. I do not have a mobile phone.

If people are "distracted" by these messages, then they're too dumb to change the channel?
May 17, 2004
Beneteau Oceanis 37 LE Havre de Grace
If people are "distracted" by these messages, then they're too dumb to change the channel?
I’d like to think I’m not too dumb. I usually set my radio to scan 9, 13, 16, and 22. The intro to each notice on 16 is a little bit of an annoyance, but at least they’re pretty brief. But then the whole notice on 22 monopolizes the radio and it won’t scan 9 or 13 until it’s done. I could take 22 out of the rotation but then tuning to it manually when I do care about something is a little annoying. It’s a pretty minor inconvenience I guess, not really what I would call a reason to cancel the notices, but if there were a way to only get the broadcasts in my area that would be more ideal.
Oct 22, 2014
CAL 35 Cruiser moored EVERETT WA
I use the WX channel each morning while sipping coffee. Tells me the big picture as seen by the CG. Takes a couple minutes. Is versatile as the US and Canada have a similar set up and format.

They share the time of day so pill taking is a breeze. Of course the sundial is helpful sometimes.

The Notice to Mariners on 16 is brief and helpful to identify emergencies. A change to 22 is really only needed when the brief notice is relevant. I’d take 22 out of your rotation.
Jan 1, 2006
Slickcraft 26 Greenport, NY
I have received the LNM via email for a decade or so. I've learned to scan it reading wise so that I can find the relevant information for me in my area in a jiffy. I would not listen to a broadcast for 20 minutes - that's way too long. I would lose concentration about at the Nar-whales warnings. I never updated the information while out. Instead I would follow the notice pre-cruise. It doesn't change that much. Sometimes a buoy or light will be off station or not working for a year or more. Bridge painting or repair could be longer.
I would definitely take channel 22 off the scan rotation.
I don't think there is a day marker on the ICW that isn't damaged in South East Florida!
Oct 24, 2010
Hunter 30 Everett, WA
Please note that the OP said they are seeking public comment. Commenting here doesn't get it to the right place. Be sure to use the link: Regulations.gov