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Author Topic:   Identifying yourself on VHF
Agntvbb posted 08-25-2012 06:28 PM ET (US)   Profile for Agntvbb   Send Email to Agntvbb  
I recently picked up a Uniden MHS75 Handheld VHF for use while recreational boating on the Upper Mississippi in MN. I got it to talk to lock operators etc, but I used to have a larger boat equipped with VHF and I enjoy listening in on commercial traffic and other chatter on the river, and of course monitoring channel 16 for emergencies etc.

I don't have a station license or anything and my boat (13 foot sport) isn't named, so is there a customary way to identify myself in radio communications in this situation? Thanks

6992WHALER posted 08-25-2012 07:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for 6992WHALER  Send Email to 6992WHALER     
One way is to use your boat's state registration numbers as your call sign.
David Pendleton posted 08-25-2012 09:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
Give your boat a name. Presto!
Agntvbb posted 08-26-2012 12:56 AM ET (US)     Profile for Agntvbb  Send Email to Agntvbb     
Since my boat is a 1984 and considering we're in the Twin Cities I have been thinking about Zen Arcade as a potential name, but the idea of naming a 13 foot boat of any kind it too cute by half in my opinion.

Maybe I'll just stick with the numbers.

skinnywater posted 08-26-2012 07:35 AM ET (US)     Profile for skinnywater    
Unless your boat name is registered or prominently labeled for responding authorities to reference or recognize, I would go with the registration number as a vessel identifier. Once communication is established with authorities when needed, it is only human for a short-hand (or nick-name) identifier to also be established for purposes of keeping those lines of communication open and necessary information flowing (i.e type vessel or name of person representing the vessel that is in communication with the authorities).
jimh posted 08-26-2012 11:37 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Identification by radio callsign is the most formal and compliant. There is no exterior visual indication required on a vessel of radio callsign. This would seem to negate the theory that you cannot use a vessel name unless the vessel name is prominently displayed. You can use the callsign and it is not displayed anywhere, typically.

My view of radio identifiers is in this order of preference:

--callsign of the vessel station license, if licensed;

--name of the vessel, if named;

--state registration number of the vessel, if registered; and

--generic description if unlicensed, unnamed, and unregistered.

For recreational vessels with voluntarily-equipped VHF Marine Band radios, there is no compulsory FCC station license required, and most recreational vessels do not have a station license from the FCC. Thus they do not have a callsign, and they use their vessel name.


"Lockmaster, Mile 600 Lock, this is WAB1234, vessel Gertrude L. Thebauld, MN1234AA, the 135-foot schooner approaching from upstream, calling you. Over."

My guess is no matter what you use as an identifier, the lockmaster will reply:

"Vessel calling, please stand by for further directions. Do not approach the lock until instructed."

David Pendleton posted 08-26-2012 02:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
By the way Agntvbb, both 6992WHALER and I live in the Metro.
Chuck Tribolet posted 08-27-2012 02:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
In 15 years, 1400 hours running (and a whole lot more anchored
between dives with the VHF on), I have NEVER heard anybody
identify themselves by their registration numbers. It's all
by boat name. If your boat doesn't have a name, give it one.


swist posted 08-27-2012 08:49 AM ET (US)     Profile for swist  Send Email to swist     
Commercial fishermen in this area (mainly lobster) are known to hail each other by their first names. "Bob, are you there? This is Joe". Although most of that is on some working channel they use, sometimes it does sneak out onto 9 or 16.

Only works in a tightly-knit community, which they are.

prj posted 08-27-2012 10:25 AM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
Zen Arcade by the seminal bleeding edge Minneapolis punk rock bank Husker Du, is quite possibly one of the best albums ever written. I think its an exceptional name and you should use it.
Agntvbb posted 08-27-2012 09:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for Agntvbb  Send Email to Agntvbb     
Thanks for the advice everyone! Well, maybe my boat should be named after all, it would be easier to remember than my registration numbers!

David and Whaler6992, good to know there are a few other whalers out there. There are actually quite a few other classic whalers on the river, more than you see elsewhere in MN, maybe I've passed you out there. I always try to wave!

6992WHALER posted 08-27-2012 10:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for 6992WHALER  Send Email to 6992WHALER     
What part of the river do you run?
David Pendleton posted 08-27-2012 10:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
I've probably seen you Agntvbb, and you've probably seen me. I have the only 23 Conquest IO in Minnesota. Take a look at the link in my profile.

I like to run between Prescott and Fort Snelling. I'm home-ported in Afton, but we don't spend much time on the St. Croix, other than the run to the big river.

prj posted 08-27-2012 10:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
Today, I rocked Zen Arcade until my ears bled.
Agntvbb posted 08-27-2012 11:14 PM ET (US)     Profile for Agntvbb  Send Email to Agntvbb     
6992whaler: I actually live on the river a couple miles above the 694 bridge, about mile 863 (Another boat name I was considering). We run locally in the spring, and then move down stream to the channel when the water gets low. I usually put in at Hidden Falls and then cruise all over from there. We go above the Coon Rapids dam once in a while, but there's no beaches or sand banks and it's pretty boring, all pontoon boats and wake boarders.

prj: Well, I'm glad I triggered that memory for you, I'm psyched it resonates for someone besides me!

David: I'll keep my eye out for you! Are any of the joints at Inver Grove Heights worth a stop? Any good places to lay up for a picnic?

David Pendleton posted 08-28-2012 12:11 AM ET (US)     Profile for David Pendleton  Send Email to David Pendleton     
Not much in IGH, but:

Twin Cities Marina/Castaways/River Heights marina at RM 830.75.

Willies Hidden Harbor/Vinny's at RM 829.

Between RM 820 and RM 824 (the "Dead Sea" to us locals) there are a lot of interesting islands and sandy beaches.

I've found some of the best beaches are between the two downtowns, RM 843 and RM 850.

Of course, everything depends on water levels (which are very low right now, so there are beaches everywhere).

6992WHALER posted 08-28-2012 01:02 AM ET (US)     Profile for 6992WHALER  Send Email to 6992WHALER     
Our boat hangs on a dock on Lake Minnetonka, but we boat the river Lake City and south.
bvs posted 09-03-2012 08:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for bvs  Send Email to bvs     
Or - identify yourself as "13 foot Boston Whaler" in lieu of boat name.

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