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PostPosted: Wed Mar 25, 2015 4:16 pm 
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The following statement was made by Seafari at the Seil Community Council meeting

Seafari would be grateful if the information below is distributed amongst the local boating community some of whom were aware our ticket office and crew accommodation kept a listening watch on VHF Channels 16 and 77.

Seafari Adventures - Statement VHF Radio Seil CC meeting March 2015.
Many will be aware that despite the request by Seafari to keep our petrol tank application focussed on planning issues the objectors reported Seafari to numerous council departments and government agencies. One of those government agencies was Ofcom, the regulator for radio communications which includes marine radio use. An inspector visited us at Easdale
The enforcement officer acknowledged that by listening in to Channel 16 the Seafari Ticket Office and Seafari accommodation houses had alerted and summoned staff to man boats in order to assist others at sea. This occurred on 5 separate occasions in the past 2 seasons. The most poignant local case being that of Scott MacAlister. Our office summoned Steve Patterson and our crew from their respective houses, a boat was launched and despite being given incorrect directions by Stornoway Coastguard it arrived first on scene approximately 20 minutes ahead of Oban lifeboat.
The enforcement officer acknowledged that many remote communities have similar arrangements offering increased unofficial safety cover. As Seafari had been reported to Ofcom, national protocols are to be followed. Neither location nor support to the local community can be considered.
At a financial cost equivalent to just 6 passengers, Seafari now operates its radios on a private marine VHF channel. All communications are exclusive to Seafari. We seek support from Seil Community Council to inform the local boating community that the Seafari bases will no longer be listening in to either Channel 16 or Channel 77. Channel 16 can be used to alert others in the area to boats experiencing difficulties, Channel 77 was used particularly by local leisure craft who left details of their intended day or to inform or update those ashore. Channel 77 also provided general communication cover for activities such as Seil Coastal Rowing and local sea kayak operators.
Seafari vessels will continue to listen to Channel 16 when at sea but our vessels spend the majority of their time away from Easdale, a recognised difficult corner on any sea passage. Our ticket office will no longer react to local incidents as it will be unaware of radio traffic. Seafari has in the past (4 occasions in 2 years) quietly assisted Stornoway Coastguard preventing the launch of Oban Lifeboat.
Tourism is the lifeblood of Seil and Easdale. Our local sea is the area’s greatest asset. The safety of both locals and visitors whilst at sea is important to us. Oban lifeboat is the recognised assistance at a response time of approximately 30 minutes. Seafari accepts the actions of the objectors were correct to the letter of the law. The outcome has not affected Seafari operational procedures but Seafari management and skippers wish to make known that, in their opinion, the action taken by the objectors was not in the best interests of the local community.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2015 11:40 am 
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As a local sailor I find this statement a bit confusing.

~ is it illegal to monitor CH16 from a shore station ?

~ is it illegal to act on information received when monitoring CH16 ? (eg sending your own boat to assist) ?

~ is it illegal to transmit on CH16 from a shore station, even in an emergency ?

What exactly were Seafari doing that Ofcom found unacceptable, and was there another way they could have regularised things rather than taking their ball home ?

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2015 11:46 am 
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A former coastguard acquaintance of mine has just answered these questions as follows:

~ is it illegal to monitor CH16 from a shore station ?

No - as long as the installed set is incapable of transmitting. If you wire up a boat radio, that is capable of transmitting, and is an illegal installation.


~ is it illegal to act on information received when monitoring CH16 ? (eg send your own boat to assist)?

Ch16 is a public broadcast channel - responding to a Mayday broadcast would be legal, provided your response is coordinated by an appropriate SAR authority.

~ is it illegal to transmit on CH16 from a shore station, even in an emergency ?

Yes. The exemption to radio licensing in an emergency applies to "correct" installations - i.e. on boats.

So - it would seem that it is only broadcasting on CH16 that is illegal.

Anyway . . . it is a shame it has come to this, but I would like to remind all sea users that the coastguard and (nearly) all vessels at sea maintain a listening watch on CH16, so the idea that safety has been compromised by this is (in my opinion) a little bit mischevious. A distress call on CH16 will be just as effective as before and the CG will still be able to get in touch with Seafari if they think they can help.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2015 2:00 pm 
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Nick
Thank you for your input.

You are correct anyone can listen to Ch 16, transmiting is the offence.
The requirement from the Ofcom enforcement officer was there should be no facility for transmission on Ch 16.within the Seafari Ticket Office or accommodation units

We require the VHF radios for transmission on our private Channel. He accepted his suggestion of cutting off the hand mikes was impractical but it was the only suggestion they are ableto offer.
The enforcement officer accepted that many fishermen will have a unit in their house and or their shed. Seafari had been reported, he was dealing with it as per procedures. He would return to Easdale this Spring to ensure we complied.
Seafari are Icom registered suppliers, we programme, add and delete channels to the VHF radios ourselves. It is not possible to programme CH16 to receive only. He was correct, cut off the hand mike is the only option.
We were accused of lack of VHF licence holders. For information season 2015, of the 11 persons involved with Seafari currently 9 are VHF licence holders.
For thos inquisitive persons. You do not require to be VHF licence holders to operate a radio on a private channel.
Persons in a distress situation do not require a VHF licence to operate the radioo.

Mischevious? I take exception. Here are a few off the head recent incidents.

When Scott MacAlister (Speedwell) put out a Mayday the message was picked up in our ticket office by Sue Fenton (A VHF licence holder). She telephoned and summoned Steve Patterson (Garragh Mhor) our nearest skipper to attend a boat. Sue radioed our crew house to summon crew. Our RIB was on scene well before anyone else.

Easter 2014 - Lady transmitting CH 16 trying to contact her husband and son who were overdue from their kayak trip. She obviously was becoming more and more distressed. She was transmitting from the Back Car Park Ellenabeich. Stornoway was not picking her up. Sue sent a member of staff to the Back car Park to chat to the lady whilst she summoned staff working on the Seafari pontoon to mobilise a boat. A quick radio chat with the boat and the boat departed to the north and found the pair just enjoying the day

Summer 2014 - Twin screw powerboat just off perches with steering failure, sent Mayday to Stornoway Coastguard. Responded to by Jess/Carolyn (both VHF licence holders) One spoke with Coastguard, the other summoned me and a crew to mobilise a boat and assist. Oban lifeboat was alerted but not launched. Seafari towed vessel into Easdale Harbour.

Can't recall year - too rough for Seafari, we were in the office drinking coffee. Channel 16 mayday - 3 sea kayakers in the water south of Easdale. Seafari responded, skipper and 2 crew. Position unknown, spotter sent to high point on the island. Eventually kayakers located and all sorted before arrival of helicopter and Oban Lifeboat. Kayakers were off Seaview having passed through Cuan Sound West tide west wind. As a sailor you will appreciate the conditions.

We have assisted powerboats off the rocks on the north end of Insh, annually we get Yachts hitting the rocks between the perches at the north end of Easdale.
Spring 2014 we had a yacht entering Easdale Sound aground at the south entrance. He was leaving the green can to port, basically trying to squeeze between the marker and the quarry wall.
We got him off the rock, he cast us off and promptly hit the rock again. We put him on one of our moorings and made him a cup of tea.

Easdale ferry, should the single engine ever cough and splutter (WE admit in recent years this has not been th case, in previous years not so) any issue the ferrymen knew to call Seafari on Ch 77. With VHF radios in our crew house, our skipper house and our own house there was every liklihood someone would hear and respond. Before anyone says use the mobile phone, no signal.

Easdale ferry monitored CH 77 which kept everyone to date as to vessel movements at Ellenabeich Harbour. Information on vessel movements, loading and unloading passengers particularly those with mobility difficulties takes time helps everyone appreciate what is going on.

Mischevious - People may make their own judgement.
The only sure outcome is Seafari will follow the instructions as advised by the Ofcom Enforcement Officer, we now operate on a private channel from all our base stations.
Failure to follow what he has advised as a system for Seafari could result in a fine of up to £5,000 and or a prison sentence.
Neither are an option for us.
Seafari ticket office and our accommodation units will only listen to our private channel
We do not staff boats at Easdale for long periods waiting for customers, If our boats are manned and at Easdale I am afraid they are not earning money, they need to be down at the Corryvreckan.

Tony Hill


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 27, 2015 2:44 pm 
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Why not get an extra handset specifically for monitoring CH16 and cut the hand mike off as per Ofcom's suggestion ? A HH VHF set is not expensive, and if the people who seem to be most upset by this to put their hands in their pockets and contributed a tenner each that would more than pay for it. No need for a personal license to listen either.




(For those not aware, the transmit button is on the hand mike - once this is removed the set has no transmit facility).

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2015 4:13 pm 
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Hi all

I like Nick's idea however

Would you consider buying a VHF 'Scanner ' Radio

I 'understand' !! that you can program such a radio to listen to marine transmissions the same as a plane spotter who listens to aircraft movements eg channel 16 is 156.8 MHz Glasgow Aiport is 118.8 MHz

International Marine VHF Channels - The UK Sea Kayak Guidebook
www.ukseakayakguidebook.co.uk/short_art ... annels.htm
International VHF Channels, Transmitting Frequencies (MHz), Intership, Port ... Working Channels: 06, 08, 09, 10, 13, 15, 17, 67, 69, 72, 73, 77 - these are worth ...

Might be worth thinking about or researching

Gav


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2015 5:21 pm 
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You three may be having a very erudite discussion on these pages about the various intricacies of short wave transmissions, and if you are a geek in this field it is probably highly entertaining and instructive but it is unlikely to set the heather on fire among the general punters (myself included).
Hopefully a resolution to the problem will be arrived at by the participants in the interests of harmony, safety, and goodwill.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 7:43 am 
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the objective of the post was to inform local boat users that Seafari would after 15 years not be listening to VHF16 or 77 from our ticket office or accommodation units. The ticket office in particular deals with a surprising number of none Seafari business radio traffic. We tried to offer a reason without offering too many reasons,
.
Following a visit and discussion with an Ofcom Enforcement Officer Who has similar powers to a Police Office Seafari were formally cautioned and reported. Subsequently Seafari received notification we would not be charged. The letter received was quite specific on the procedures to be adopted.

Irrespective of personal opinion and guidance expressed on this forum seafari will be following the instructions given to us by Ofcom. There is no option for the business, we will comply fully. Their procedures recognises Seafari's business requirements to radio operation. Seafari will not 'play/operate on the fringes'. Seafari is constantly observed, we face repeated reporting to government agencies and council bodies by a few individuals.

We ask that persons reading this topic relay the information that Seafari will no longer be listening in to Channel 16 or 77.

Opinions
As to whether in the past 15 years Seafari has contributed to the safety of those at sea in the Easdale area
On the actions taken by those who reported Seafari (objectors to our planning application) was in the best interest of the local boating community
are purely subjective and, I would suggest, should remain subjective and not discussed.

Tony


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 10:10 am 
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I am afraid you can't post things on a public discussion forum then ask that they not be discussed.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 7:40 pm 
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Jim

Fine - point taken BUT the general forum should allow discussion on any point !( in my opinion )

For example - you're not happy about the home page not being updated by NB

How many responses did your thread generate ?

You do not seem to have a view about 'changes to radio procedures' other than complain that these posts are 'erudite' - Why ??

Surely if you are not interested in the post or cannot input then move on and ignore ?

Gav


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 9:19 pm 
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Gavin,
This was a local issue which involved a spat over planning permission and degenerated into acrimony.
I am not taking sides on this, but it did not reflect commendably on either side.
The upshot was that Seafari (quite rightly) agreed to stick to the rules.
NB and yourself with your superior knowledge on these matters, suggested ways to overcome the difficulty and still provide an answer to the bureaucratic ruling.
NB has intimated that this is not something that can be discussed openly here, so I would suggest that if you want a fuller picture on the whole scenario. that you get in touch with him or Tony Hill.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 10:31 pm 
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jimcee wrote:
NB has intimated that this is not something that can be discussed openly here


I intimated no such thing.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2015 8:36 am 
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jimcee wrote:
The upshot was that Seafari (quite rightly) agreed to stick to the rules.

The upshot here is that Seafari can stick to the rules AND legally listen into Ch16 from the shore but are choosing not to. Hence the discussion. (In case your wondering Jim, I'm another 'geek' with various VHF licences, so I feel qualified to comment.)


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2015 5:08 pm 
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Obviously this whole thread is fraught with bad feeling, complicated technical details, and people with an axe to grind.
As "piggy in the middle" who was only trying to placate things, I feel that my presence has done nothing to ameliorate matters.
Therefore I shall bow out of this particular thread and leave it to the geeks to sort out - but with a listening brief, in case something useful should be said.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2015 7:23 am 
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There remain opinion to the legalities. Following our caution by the enforcement office from Ofcom we held a discussion As to how we should address the problem. The officer, like every other government agency we have so far met, was realistic and constructive. Their role is to assist businesses to comply to current regulations which I believe is a sensible approach. We discussed the implications of being reported to Ofcom again by the same group of people.
His advice was appropriate. He will inspect Seafari's base equipment at some point this summer. Should seafari be reported again he has a duty to follow due procedure. He will have to revisit, listen in to radio traffic locally, identify the sources. He will once again inspect the Seafari base stations. Providing he finds our base stations as advised he will be able to respond to the complainants by stating he has once again inspected our stations and we do not operate radios with the capacity to breach regulations. Their complaint would be dismissed as unfounded. The advantages to Seafari are obvious.

What has gone before with VHF radios at Easdale is no longer an option for Seafari. Whilst we believe the actions by the complainants is regrettable, Seafari will follow the advice of the enforcement officer. In his own words, your radio traffic is now being reduced to the same level as a Glasgow taxi firm.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2015 6:55 pm 
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Good to hear that Seafari are now operating within the law.
.
.
If this is the case I can't see how there is any possibility of them being reported again.
.
.
So - not such a terrible result after all.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2015 8:33 am 
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jimcee wrote:
Obviously this whole thread is fraught with bad feeling,
Nothing I've read in this thread suggests bad feeling, only an interest as to why a situation like this should have been allowed to developed.
As for an axe to grind?, yes there appears to be between Seafari and unnamed 'objectors' over a 'petrol tank' but like yourself Jim I'm not involved so can't comment.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2015 10:26 am 
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I was just imagining yesterday how very different this thread might have been in the days of anonymous posting.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2015 11:11 am 
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NickB wrote:
I was just imagining yesterday how very different this thread might have been in the days of anonymous posting.

Ah! much virtual blood on the digital forum then? :hitsthefan (As in "Et tu Brute?" and the like.)


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2015 11:25 am 
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Indeed, much virtual blood, including quite a lot of mine!

You could always search up some of the old sewage works threads for a flavour.

Or the dog dirt debates . . . it's all still there in the historical record.

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