So, just a few weeks ago, we had an issue with communications while boating and a storm was headed right towards us. We were out on Winnebago about 4.5 miles out from Oshkosh when the storm hit us. Winds blew up, rain came down (couldn't see 10 feet past the front of the bow), and the waves were 3-4 footers... We were out with two other boats that were well ahead of us as we were going idle speed by this time. I couldn't see or tell you how far ahead though.
Problem was, once the rain started, none of us could see where each of us were and all I had was the GPS to keep me on course. So, the others in the group began radioing back to me to determine where we were, but my radio got enough water on/in it that I couldn't transmit back to them. I could hear them, but they couldn't hear me. Our cell phones were down below because it was dry there and water and cell phones don't mix. We tried calling them, but either the storm was interfering with us or we were both trying to call at the same time, we couldn't seem to connect. Unfortunately I didn't have a backup radio either. So, we were, in a sense, alone and no one was sure of where we were. We were able to finally text back and forth enough to tell them we were OK, just taking things slow and that the radio wasn't working.
Lesson learned, I have since picked up a secondary backup handheld radio that is water proof and even floats. I don't want to ever go through that again without being able to let people know where we are. I also was doing some reading and found some really good information about marine radios, their use, and how people should be using them and thought I would share. It explains why a lot of boats have two marine radios on board. One to monitor channel 16 and one to communicate with other boats you may be travelling with. So, here is a few links for you to check out and hope it helps you be ready when the unexpected occurs.
From the Navigation Center for the US Coast Guard:
From BoatSafe.com (repeats a lot of the same info, but adds some more to it):
The letter below was sent to me by BoatU.S. Please read it and take the time to understand the issue as this will impact you and your boat engines.
September 27, 2010
Dear BoatU.S. Member,
We need your help. If you believe in "science first," now is the time to urge President Obama to require the federal EPA to understand the effects of higher blends of ethanol before allowing it into our country's gasoline supply.
Time is critical. Last year, a record number of boaters asked EPA to test marine engines before allowing up to 15% (E15) ethanol in gasoline. This testing has not been completed. Now, in late September or early October, EPA is getting ready to announce their decision. We expect they will allow E15 for some engines and not others. This will create different fuels with different availability, prices, and a lot of consumer confusion.
BoatU.S. appreciates and embraces the need to diversify our country's fuel and energy sources. However, we are concerned that EPA may put the "cart before the horse" by granting increased ethanol before we know what it will do in our marine engines. Many boaters, having suffered through the last ethanol transition, agree that we should learn from this recent history, and completely understand what the new fuel will do before approving its use in boats. It may turn out to be harmless, but what if it's not? Shouldn't we wait for the facts before making the decision?
Please help today. Click here http://www.followthescience.org/take-action/ and let President Obama know your concerns about ethanol and ask him to get the science first, before giving EPA the approval for more ethanol in your gasoline.
Vice President, BoatU.S. Government Affairs
Intersting article about the no-wake zones on the Wolf River near Fremont, WI.
For those of you who take trips up river, plan accordingly.
Below is a cut and paste of an article from Boat US News entitled "Five Reasons Why Boats Sink in the Springtime and Commissioning Checklist". Check out the link on the left for our Boating News RSS Feed for other articles like this and Boat US for news too.
ALEXANDRIA, Va., March 15, 2010 -- It's a sad fact: Every spring, shortly after being launched and commissioned for the season, boats sink while safely tied up at the dock, turning what should be a good time of the year into a real mess. BoatU.S.' Seaworthy magazine , which combs through the BoatU.S. marine insurance claims files for important accident trends or lessons to learn, has identified the top five reasons for springtime sinkings, and created a free Spring Commissioning Checklist to help boaters start the season right.