Raising the courtesy flag at sunset

Raising the courtesy flag at sunset

The Southbound Evening Net is a nightly SSB 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, whesunset_sailing-500x375n 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.


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