I know this news blast is long, but it has a lot of important information. So, I hope I don’t bore you too much!
It is that time of the year again! It is time to renew your LMCA membership for the 2020 season. Please try and register by January 31, 2020. As before, our dues will be $25 for a family membership, and if you would like a subscription to the “Mainsheet” magazine, it would be an additional $15. You can easily register on line at the following link. LMCA Membership Renewal. Also, while registering, please consider getting and entering your MMSI number.
I believe I have just found a reason to use some “Boat Bucks!” I’m going to be shopping for a new VHF radio with GPS and DSC capabilities. I truly believe that this type of radio would make sailing, especially with Ashlie, much safer and less stressful. If something were to happen, all Ashlie would need to do, is push one button to contact the US Coastguard! Please read the following for information on obtaining and the use of an MMSI number.
LMCA has added an MMSI, Maritime Mobile Service Identity, field to our new member and membership renewal forms that we use to comprise the LMCA roster. Maritime Mobile Service Identity, MMSI, is a unique 9-digit number that is assigned to a Digital Selective Calling, DSC, radio or an AIS unit. Similar to a cell phone number, your MMSI number is your unique calling number for DSC radios or an AIS unit. The information provided when obtaining an MMSI number is transferred into the U.S. Coast Guard’s national distress database for use in emergency situations. (Also, you can use your MMSI number to transmit your location when using the App, Marine Traffic, or similar Apps, while cruising.)
You can go to http://www.boatus.com/mmsi/ and register your vessel and receive your MMSI (free). BoatUS also allows you to change your vessel information and to transfer your MMSI in the event you sell your boat. You may already be familiar with DSC and MMSI, for those of you who are not you will find an explanation below.
MMSI or Maritime Mobile Service Identity is much like a phone number for your boat. This number allows you to use your DSC (digital selective calling) functions on your DSC equipped VHF. How do you know if you have a DSC radio? If on your VHF radio you have a covered RED “Distress” button, you have a DSC radio. Nearly all-newer VHF radios have this functionality, including some handheld units. DSC allows you to call one or several other vessels at a time directly in lieu of hailing them on channel 9. You simply add your friend’s MMSI to your DSC phonebook, which you are able to label. Then, by simply selecting their MMSI and the channel you want to communicate on, the VHF will signal them directly with a ring tone informing them that you would like to speak on a particular channel and ask if you would like the VHF to switch to that channel. With AIS (automatic identification system) you can select vessels on your AIS list to hail directly. All commercial vessels are required to have AIS transponders equipped on their vessels by federal mandate as of 2016. This is helpful when encountering large commercial vessels like a tug with a tow.
MMSI also allows your distress function to operate. If connected to GPS data, the distress button will transmit your vessel’s location and MMSI number, which will give the USCG your vessel information. This signal will continue to transmit until the USCG has received your signal. They then return a conformation signal to your DSC equipped VHF radio so that you know they received your signal. But what if you are not within signal range of the Coast Guard? No problem! Other DSC equipped radios will receive your signal and transmit it until a conformation signal is received, transmitting it from boat to boat. If you don’t have GPS data connected to your VHF you can manually input your coordinates.
If you have registered for an MMSI number and can’t find it, you will likely find it in one of your emails. A quick search of “MMSI” should return a pretty short list.
So please, when renewing your membership be sure to add your MMSI number. If you renew before getting your number you can always email me with your number and I can add it to the Roster. Or, if any information ever changes for you, please send it to me so I can update our files. If you have questions or need help, please don’t hesitate to contact me. As always, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or text 616-299-9630.
Who knows, the Board may just have a drawing from those who submit an MMSI number for a gift certificate!
Now, I’ll just need to be able to teach “The Other Captain” to use the VHF!
Donna Hathaway – still Commodore 😉 (until 1/1/20)
Thanks, and I look forward to seeing all of your at our “Spring Thing” to be held on Saturday, April 25, 2020. Watch for more information to come as we plan the event.