Month: February 2014

Protected: The EPAC Offshore Opportunity – draft proposal

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Raising the courtesy flag at sunset

Raising the courtesy flag at sunset

The Southbound Evening Net  is a nightly amateur radio network that takes place every evening  at precisely the same time.  Southbound is a volunteer operation dedicated to improving the safety of mariners especially those traveling south of San Diego, CA and north of Panama.

Every night we take “check-ins”  from cruisers, help them connect with one another and  provide them with relevant information.

Like other marine radio “nets”,   Southbound strives to be reliable.  Our extremely loose organization promises to have a volunteer on the air at precisely the same time every night. In return, the even-looser community of cruisers provides a steady supply of volunteers.  It all works out.

Mostly our work is fairly routine. Boats call in and tell us what’s happening aboard, or en route.  It all gets written down, especially when they report their exact location and destination.  Sometimes they want to connect with their friends in other anchorages.

And some nights, hardly anybody calls. But we’re still there, listening.

And then there are the rarest of rare occasions, when someone calls in with an urgent appeal for help.  And we’re there for that, too.

Since the Southbound Net  is an evening net,  anyone checking in while underway is traveling at night, which changes things a bit. Night crossings, as every sailor knows, have a special dark tenor, and hearing the sound of familiar voices tends to lighten things up a bit.

Many –   sailors and landlubbers alike –  have a rough idea about  ham radio. You need a license to operate one. You need to learn a lot of  old stuff.  But sometimes in big emergencies –  when the cell phone networks die and telephone lines are down –  ham operators somehow get thru. But you have to have a license.

Southbound is a Single Side Band network,  so you can be a complete idiot (like us) and transmit to your heart’s content. If you have a high frequency marine radio, you can use it. (We do ask for your “ship station license”, usually available from your home national government).

You will require a high frequency marine or ham radio that is capable of tuning into 6.516 mHz, Upper Side Band USB).

You will be asked to behave yourselves while on-air, although we do ask nicely.

The conversation is “controlled” in that all communications go through the volunteer who is operating the net. There is a clear format and a few rules that make sure that vessels that are “checking in” (reporting their whereabouts and circumstances) get a chance to do so in an orderly way.

The Specifics

Start Time:   0100 Zulu

Primary Frequencies: 6.516 mHz USB) and 4.149 mHz  (4B)

Acting Net Manager:   Mark on SV Wendaway.  You can contact him by leaving filling out the form below.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please put that in the Comment box!  You’ll receive our monthly bulletin, and other cruisers will treat you with renewed respect and invite you to drink their almost- best tequila.

Even if that doesn’t pan out,  you will still be doing your fellow cruisers a good deed.

NOAA to launch new forecast service for coastal Eastern Pacific

 NOAA to launch new forecast service for coastal  Eastern Pacific  –  Feb 4, 2014

The Southbound Evening Net has been in contact with NOAA for several weeks now to see if cruisers in this area of the world can access more detailed coastal forecasts than have been available up til now.  And the news is quite promising.

Starting (hopefully) and the end of February, 2014, the federal agency will be launching a trial period of a new forecasting service that covers the East Pacific coastline from San Diego to Ecuador.

NOAA’s new proposed Offshore Waters Forecast will  provide a detailed 5 day forecast.

“We plan on going from near the coast out to 250 NM from the Mexico/California border all the way to Ecuador (including 2 zones in the Sea of Cortez/Gulf of California), broken up in to about a dozen or so “zones” total based on climatology, political boundaries, jump points, etc.”

“The 5 day forecast will be broken down in to 12 hour forecast periods for the first 60 hours, then in to 24 hour forecast periods for Days 3-5.  At a minimum we will provide A range of Winds (e.g. NW to N Winds 10 to 15 KT) and Seas (e.g. Seas 3 to 5 FT building to 4 to 6 FT late), and weather conditions (e.g. Scattered Showers and Isolated Thunderstorms).  There are plans to provide more detailed wave information (swell directions, wave periods, etc.).”

If you are interested in participating in the trial, please fill out the contact form below. NOAA wants to receive feedback during the trial period in order to fine tune the zones and make it useful to mariners.