Check Important NEW Florida Anchoring Info, Below!
The Waterway Radio and Cruising Club is an association of amateur
radio operators who also share an interest in recreational boating.
The Waterway Net, which is sponsored by the Waterway Radio and
Cruising Club, meets on the air every morning of the year for about
an hour starting at 0745 ET on a frequency of 7.268 MHz LSB. The main
purpose of the Waterway Net is to encourage amateur radio
communications to and from boats with an emphasis on safety and
weather information. Position Reports help
keep live-aboards and cruising boats in touch with families and
friends and Float
Plans provide a strong measure of safety for off-shore passage
Begun in the early sixties, the Waterway Net is one of the oldest, continuously operating nets in amateur radio.
Today the WRCC has around eight hundred dues paying members and
anyone holding an Amateur Radio License of any class is eligible to
join. Membership in the WRCC is not a
prerequisite for participation in the Waterway Net, but a general
class or higher license is required.
The Waterway Net is a controlled net. It is recommended that one
listen for a while to learn the Net
Procedures, but anyone with a general class license or above is
invited to check in at the appropriate time or to join in on the
special interest nets that often follow.
In an emergency, FCC rules permit anyone, licensed or not, to use
any frequency to summon help. All boaters with high frequency SSB
radios aboard should know that the 20 meter amateur frequency of 14.300 MHz is active for about
eighteen hours a day and is always available for emergency
There are several streaming online programs that are part the TWIT (This Week In Tech) internet network. One of these is "Ham Nation". This series is hosted by Gordon West, WB6NOA and Bob Heil, K9EID. They discuss many topics of interest to the ham community, sometimes mentioning new radios/equipment, rules, band changes, etc., before others do. The show is live every Wednesday evening, but I find it more convenient to watch a replay of it later. This way I can Pause and Restart at my leisure (and also skip the commercials!). Their website gives you the option to view previous shows.
Ham Nation is about to celebrate their 200th show anniversary the first part of the coming year.
This link will take you to a recent show that mentions the history of the show and the two hosts.
NOTES FROM RECENT FLORIDA FWC MEETING - N1GYX
Anchoring in Florida
On Sept 3 in Vero Beach I had the privilege to represent the WRCC at a meeting held by the Florida Fish and Wildlife
Commission to discuss three topics. Recent attempts in the FL legislature to return the right of local communities to
establish local rules and regulations was discussed by parties on both sides of the issue. Another problem in FL is
derelict boats and how to deal with them and finally some concern about heads. Representatives from the City of Miami
Beach, Ft Lauderdale, SSCA, and BoatUS among others were allowed three minutes to discuss the issues. There were
about 75 in attendance with 30 speaking. The representatives from FL Fish and Wildlife took
notes and ran a well-organized meeting. Another meeting was scheduled for the next evening on the West Coast of FL.
Once the notes and comments from those two meetings are summarized, a concept questionnaire will be released for
the public to fill in and return via the internet.
As for our input, I pointed out that liveaboards should not be confused with transient cruisers. We agree that there are
sufficient laws to cover heads, and we also do not like derelict boats in anchorages we use. However, uniform, well
published state wide rules concerning anchoring are a benefit to our community as we move around the state. Further, if
shore based communities are to restrict anchoring in certain areas that represents a danger to navigation and for other
valid reasons, other than "get that boat out of my backyard", then sufficient alternative anchoring areas should be
mandated at the same time as restrictions are imposed.
There are several websites where you may obtain additional information on the subject. A few of those are:
I am writing to alert all of our Waterway Radio and Cruising Club members of two public workshops to be held in early September by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) to present three concepts that are under consideration to develop proposed state legislation which would grant limited authority to counties and municipalities to regulate anchoring 'on the waters of the state of Florida'.
Because of the importance of the issues to be discussed, which include granting residential homeowners virtual control over large swaths of state-owned bottom land maintained by all of the taxpayers, it is incumbent upon all of our members to familiarize themselves with each of these issues and be able to speak knowledgeably about them. Background on this is available at the following web sites:
The above links also contain several comments by boat owners and Florida residents which help frame the issues involved. If you are a Florida resident, whether you live on the water or not, you should be as involved as possible in the ongoing discussion to include informing your local legislators as well as the FWCC of your views. If you are not a Florida resident you should make your views known to the FWCC. Keep in mind that these meetings are scheduled the first week of September when most cruising boaters are not in the state.
The Waterway Radio and Cruising Club will be sending a representative to the Vero Beach meeting on 3 September to express our position on the 'concept' proposals. This position will include development and rigid enforcement of state and local derelict/abandoned boat regulations and the adoption of the principle of no residential buffer regardless of the final form of the state's anchoring regulations.
Regards and 73
WLO and KLB: Marine HF/SSB Services Now Restored: I am pleased to announce that marine operator services through station WLO in Mobile Alabama and station KLB in the Pacific NW are now both operating at nearly full steam.
New technical and operational personnel have been hired and training is almost complete.
The parent company, Shipcom, operates two coastal HF stations: WLO and KLB. A full frequency list, and schedules for weather and traffic lists can be found here: http://shipcom.com/frequencies.html
Station WLO is operating daily until 10PM. Beginning this weekend, WLO will resume 24-hour operation. Station KLB is operating on 8MHz and 12MHz at the moment, with plans to resume on other marine bands soon.
WLO uses multiple 5KW transmitters and a large antenna farm to communicate with ships at sea. Services include voice (marine operator) via SSB radio, telex, and Pactor email. High seas weather and traffic lists are read several times a day.
Coverage areas by WLO include the North and South Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, and often into Europe and the Mediterranean. Station KLM covers much of the North and South Pacific Oceans.
Registration for use of these services is very easy via the shipcom.com website. Prices are amazingly low (e.g., $0.99 per minute) and service quality is high.
For newbies to HF/SSB communications....Why should you be interested?
There are several reasons, including medical and safety. If you're on the high seas and have an emergency at 0200, a marine operator at WLO or KLB might well be your best bet for establishing solid communications with whomever you wish to contact: family member, Coast Guard, etc., etc. Likewise, someone ashore or on another boat wishing to contact you can book a call with one of these shore stations. Several times a day they read traffic lists, i.e., ships/boats for whom they are holding traffic.
This is a proven system which works like a charm, even when other means of communication
On behalf of the cruising community, a hearty thanks to Rene Stiegler K4EDX/W4WLO and to the good folks at ShipComm for revitalizing these important radio services for mariners.
- Bill, WA6CCA
WEATHER FORECAST ZONE CHANGES: On April 1, 2014, the Ocean Prediction Center (OPC) of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NECP) reconfigured its marine zones for the offshore waters in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The Atlantic offshore waters include New England and the west central North Atlantic. For complete article, go to News & Events page or click HERE. There are also links to these new zones on our LINKS page, under the Weather category.
(Update 2-12-2013) Bahamas Reciprocal License Info: Anyone planning a trip to the Bahamas should check out the URCA website. The most recent ruling states that you will be required to get a Bahamas Reciprocal License each year you visit the Bahamas. Annual license renewals are no longer available. URCA, Utilities Regulation & Competition Authority, require all to complete and submit a license application form, Amateur Radio Services, $10 application fee as well as the $25 license fee. The application form can be downloaded from the link, above. Also, check out our Bahamas Reciprocal info on this page.
Like Big Boats? (and who doesn't?): Some web sites that are fun to follow are
the Port Canaveral, Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale and New York Harbor Web Cams. These are all live, full
motion and display some interesting views. During the recent Sandy "Super Storm", the New York Harbor web cam
gave a live 24 hour a day feed from the Staten Island waterfront. Prior to the recent Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show,
I watched many fancy yachts being unloaded from cargo transport ships. Also, daily, you can watch the big cruise ships come and go.
There are several URLs, but the easiest way is to go to the Port Canaveral Web Cam site, then, in the upper left corner,
you'll see a drop-down menu with the other web cams. Also, some sites have more than one web cam to choose from.
In a smaller window, just below and to the left of the main window, there is an AIS display, identifying each vessel in the area.
Club Related Gear: WRCC
members should fly the club's burgees whenever possible. This
lets other members know if you're in their anchorage, marina,
etc. Flying the burgee also is a means of showing others that
you are a member of a very special group of boaters/ham radio
Burgees, embroidred shirts, caps and other club merchandise can be found on our WRCC Store page.
How and Where to Check in to Customs: For those of you who are returning to the states from the Bahamas, etc., here's information of how and where to check in if you're returning to Florida.
BoatUS Foundation's Top Picks For On-the-Water Weather Services:
A Look at Cell Phone, Smart Phone, Chartplotter, and Computer-based Weather Service
ANNAPOLIS, Md., August 12, 2010 - On the afternoon of July 25th, a fast moving storm packing 70 mph winds, rain and lighting swept across the Chesapeake Bay. Over the next two hours, US Coast Guard Sector Baltimore, MD, received 37 calls from mariners in distress. Unfortunately many boaters and anglers, unaware of the supercell's fury, were caught unprepared. But it didn't have to be this way.
Today there are dozens of hi-tech ways to receive up-to-the-minute weather information aboard your boat. The BoatUS Foundation recently reviewed 28 products and services to see which provided mariners with the best information and has issued its recommendations for its top "picks."
"Sometimes bad weather can approach with few visual signs," said Program Manager David Carter. "Having these resources available can complement your VHF radio's weather broadcast."
The review, which covered satellite and phone-based weather services for the coastal inshore and inland boater, included free cellular phone text messaging services to fee-based subscription services that display weather information on a chartplotter. Each weather service includes hardware, such as a standard flip phone, smart phone, computer or chartplotter, as well as the software designed to present the information.
Foundation staff limited their focus to the actual content and depth of weather information provided. This included the ability to deliver local, land-based weather information (current conditions such as temperature, wind or barometric readings), hazardous weather warnings, radar imagery, land and marine forecasts, and NOAA buoy reports.
The BoatUS Foundation's weather service "picks" are:
Drowning Doesn't Look Like Drowning: A person who is drowning doesn't usually look like the typical 'drowning victim' that you see on TV. A crew member who falls overboard and appears to be OK, could actually be drowning! An excellent article by Mario Vittone that explains this can be found here.
Now this just isn't right!
USCG CFL Lamp Warning: The US Coast Guard has issued a Marine Safety Alert on the newer CFL fluorescent lamps, saying that they could cause RF interference with certain communication and navigation equipment. The USCG alert is not clear, whether it refers to the AC or 12v DC type of lamp (or both). The type of lamp in question should have the following statement printed somewhere on the packaging: "This product may cause interference to radio communications and should not be installed near maritime safety communications equipment or other critical navigation or communication equipment operating between 0.45-30 MHz."
New Florida Anchoring Provision Is Now Law!:
House Bill #1423 and other related information can be found HERE.
Lake Okeechobee Water Levels: You may still want to check with lockmasters, etc., to determine local conditions.
WRCC Recruitment Flyer: Download this flyer (right), print it out, and post it at your nearest marina, marine supply store (West Marine, Boat U.S., etc.,) even Radio Shack. You could also use it as a handout at your local ham radio club. The Waterway Radio & Cruising Club is conducting a recruitment campaign for new members and this flyer is just another way to get the word out. With the recent dropping of the morse code requirement, more and more boaters will be getting their licenses; we need to let them know what services the Club
provides. You will need Acrobat Reader to view and print this flyer. Download pdf flyer (236kb).
Join the fun! The Waterway
Radio & Cruising Club is holding a membership
recruitment campaign. If you, or someone you know,
would like to become a member, please go to the Club Info page and
download a membership form. Only requirement is that you hold a
valid amateur radio operator's license. Of course, to
participate on the Net, you must have a General class or above,
license. Owning a boat is not required; only the love of
boating. Waterway Net members are known for their love of the
water, boating and ham radio. For the cruising boater, the Net
is also a great way of keeping in touch with other boaters
while offering a safer transit, through our daily weather
reporting and position reports. Also, every fall, we hold a
combination picnic/flea market in Melbourne, FL.
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