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Author Topic:   VHF Marine Channels in Canada
jimh posted 06-28-2013 08:06 PM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
I have found an authoritative source of information about designation of channel usage for VHF Marine Band channels in Canada at

http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/smt-gst.nsf/eng/sf01011.html#sect81

jimh posted 06-29-2013 07:50 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The instructions for the table declare:

quote:
For each channel, the operator of the ship station shall operate in accordance with:

--the area of operation (see the legend for Schedule I) identified by the placement of an "X" in Column III;

--the type of traffic (see the legend for Schedule I) listed in Column IV; and

--the restrictions noted in Column V.


I scan the chart for channels with an X in the column marked GL (for Great Lakes), then I look for a notation of traffic of IS (for inter-ship), and NC (non-commercial). Next, I consider the restrictions in the last column, This gives me the following channels:

6--May be used for search and rescue communication between ships and aircraft

10--Commerical--BCC area. May also be used for communication with aircraft engaged in coordinated search and rescue and antipollution operations.

11--VTS--BCC area. Also used for pilotage purposes.

12--VTS--BCC area. Port operations and pilot information and messages.

13--VTS--BCC area. Bridge-to-bridge navigational traffic.

14--VTS--BCC area. Port operations and pilot information and messages.

15--Port operations and Ship Movement--BCC area.
All operations limited to 1-watt maximum power. May also be used for on-board communications.

16--International calling channel

17--Port operations and Ship Movement--BCC area.
All operations limited to 1-watt maximum power. May also be used for on-board communications.

22A--For communications between Canadian Coast Guard and non-Canadian Coast Guard stations only.

65A--Search and rescue and antipollution operations on the Great Lakes. Towing on the Pacific Coast. Port operations only in the St. Lawrence River areas with 1 watt maximum power. Intership in INLD PRA.

66A--Port operations only in the St. Lawrence River/Great Lakes areas with 1–watt maximum power. 1 watt marina channel--BCC area.

67--May also be used for communications with aircraft engaged in coordinated search and rescue and antipollution operations. Commercial fishing only in EC and INLD PRA areas. Pleasure craft--BCC area.

68--For marinas, yacht clubs and pleasure craft.

69--Commercial fishing only--EC area. Pleasure craft--BCC area.

71--Ship Movement--BCC area. Marinas and yacht clubs--EC and on Lake Winnipeg.

73--May also be used for communications with aircraft engaged in coordinated search and rescue and antipollution operations. Commercial fishing only in EC and INLD PRA areas.

jimh posted 06-29-2013 10:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Interpreting the restrictions listed in Column V seems difficult. Let us look, for example, at Channel 6.

Channel 6 is clearly noted as usable in the Canadian Great Lakes. It is listed as a suitable for traffic between ships and for non-commercial use. This would suggest that pleasure craft could use this channel to communicate ship-to-ship with other pleasure craft. In Column V, however, there is the following restriction: "May be used for search and rescue communication between ships and aircraft."

The restriction does not say "may be used only for search and rescue..." I would read that as meaning it can be used for search and rescue communication, and this is explicitly mentioned because there is no traffic category for ship to aircraft communication. Thus, I would interpret the usage to allow pleasure craft to communicate ship-to-ship.

In the case of Channel 10, there is even less clarity in my mind. The channel is designated for Great Lakes, ship-to-ship, and non-commercial. The Column V restrictions add that in the British Columbia Coast or inland waters the channel is restricted to commercial stations. There is also the "may be used for communication with aircraft engaged in coordinated search and rescue and antipollution operations." Again, I read this as adding a category, not limiting communications to only that category. On that basis, it would seem to me that Channel 10 may be used on the Great Lakes for non-commercial ship-to-ship traffic. However, I recall that I was doing just that a few years ago when the Canadian Coast Guard told me to move off the channel, it was not available for my use, and it was for vessel traffic system (VTS) use.

The only channel that seems to explicitly mention pleasure craft and include the Great Lakes is Channel 68. However, in Ontario, Channel 68 is just about universally used to contact marinas. I seldom hear boat-to-boat non-commercial pleasure craft traffic on 68 because of the use by so many marinas.

Channel 69 is noted as being restricted to pleasure craft in the British Columbia Coast area. I read that as a restriction on commercial use out there, not as a restriction on non-commercial use in the Great Lakes. Thus I infer that 69 is also an approved channel for boat-to-boat non-commercial traffic in the Great Lakes. I think I will try using 69 the next time I am in Ontario and see if I get a rebuke from the Canadian Coast Guard.

saumon posted 06-29-2013 08:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for saumon  Send Email to saumon     
I have been a few times on the Canadian side of Lake Ontario for salmon fishing and we use:

9: Distress
16: Calling
68-69-71: Inter-ship (pleasure crafts)

i.e.: continiously scanning the 16/9 and, if we want to talk to somebody, call on the 16 then switch on either the 68, 69 or 71. Never been warned by the CCG so far...

K Albus posted 07-01-2013 09:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
Channel 87 is also listed as available for inter-ship and non-commercial use in the Great Lakes.
K Albus posted 07-01-2013 09:39 AM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
Never mind about Channel 87. I see that it is restricted to port operation and ship movement for the East Coast, which includes the Great Lakes.
K Albus posted 07-01-2013 09:49 AM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
Jim - Channel 69 is listed as "commercial fishing only" in the EC area. The EC area includes the Great Lakes.

The way I read the chart, only Channel 68 is clearly available for pleasure craft use in the Great Lakes. Channels 10 and 11 may also be available.

The marinas have Channels 68 and 71 available, but primarily use 68. They could make things easier for the rest of us if they used 71 instead.

K Albus posted 07-01-2013 10:33 AM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
Channel 6 may also be available.

I sent an email to the Canadian Coast Guard in Sarnia, asking for clarification. I'll let you know what I find.

jimh posted 07-01-2013 11:12 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I sent an email to the Canadian Spectrum Management office. I'll let you know what they say. I asked for an explicit list of channels for use by recreational boaters in the Great Lakes for ship-to-ship traffic.
jimh posted 07-01-2013 11:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Ah, yes, I see that the designator EC is a super-region designator, and that any designation of EC includes the Great Lakes, as stated in the table:

quote:
Area of Operation:

AA: All Areas
EC (East Coast): NL, AC, GL and Eastern Arctic areas
NL: Newfoundland and Labrador
AC: Atlantic Coast, Gulf and St. Lawrence River up to and including Montréal
GL: Great Lakes (including St. Lawrence above Montréal)
WC (West Coast): BCC, Western Arctic and Athabasca-Mackenzie Watershed areas
BCC: British Columbia Coast (Pacific Coast)
BCC: Inland Waters of BC and the Yukon
INLD PRA: Inland Waters of MB, SK, and AB


How is BCC interpreted? It appears to have two meanings. Apparently in Column III, Areas of Operation, there are two subcolumns for BCC. The first BCC sub-column is interpreted as Pacific Coast, and the second sub-column BCC is interpreted as Inland Waters of BC and the Yukon. But, when BCC is used in Column V, Restrictions, how do you disambiguate the meaning?

jimh posted 07-07-2013 09:56 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I received a reply to my email inquiry. The reply was in the form of a spreadsheet. The following channels were indicated as available for use by a pleasure boat in the Great Lakes in Canada with the functions as noted:

Ch-6: Primary working channel
Ch-10: Ship movement, Search and Rescue
Ch-11: Ship movement/Pilotage/VicVTS
Ch-12: Port Ops, SM/VanVTS
Ch-13: Hail Ship-to-Ship GL Nav safety (1-watt)
Ch-14: Port operations
Ch-15: 1-watt only, EPIRBS buoy
Ch-16: Only emergency and calling
Ch-17: 1-watt only, Pilotage
Ch-22A: Calling CCG
Ch-68: Prim Work Ch/Call Marinas
Ch-71: Intership & (VTS)
Ch-74: SM, Vic/Fras/Tof/VTS

For deciphering the acronyms:

SM = ship movement
VTS = vessel traffic system
GL = Great Lakes
CCG = Canadian Coast Guard

Note that Ch-9 is not indicated as being available. Channels 6 and 68 are both clearly indicated as a primary working channel.

Channel 15 appears to be available for inter-ship and intra-ship use, at 1-watt power only.

I have not idea why some restrictions are separated by commas and others by slashes. "Vic/Fras/Tof" may mean Victoria, Fraser, and Tofino, which I think are ports in British Columbia.

K Albus posted 07-08-2013 12:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
I received a reply to my email inquiry as well. My inquiry was to Mr. Andrew Martin, Regional Program Specialist, Marine Communications and Traffic Services, Canadian Coast Guard, Central & Arctic Region (which includes the Great Lakes). I asked specifically which VHF channels were available for ship-to-ship communications between pleasure boats. Mr. Martin advised that Channels 6, 10, 68, 69, and 72 are available for ship-to-ship communications between pleasure boats.
K Albus posted 07-08-2013 12:39 PM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
I should further state that my inquiry was limited to the Great Lakes.

Also, Mr. Martin is identified as the Officer In Charge of the Canadian Coast Guard's Marine Communications and Traffic Services Centre in Sarnia, Ontario. See: http://www.ccg-gcc.gc.ca/eng/MCTS/Contact_Mcts_Centre

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