The Coast Guard’s Rescue 21 program makes it easier to locate mariners in distress. But for recreational boaters, the program’s support for digital selective calling VHF technology means access to DSC’s emergency and private calling features.
To make an emergency call, you push a button and the DSC radio sends a digital distress alert with your Maritime Mobile Service Identity number and GPS position to other DSC-equipped vessels and land-based rescue stations.
To privately hail another DSC-equipped vessel or shore station, you enter the MMSI number. Your VHF calls the receiving party’s radio and switches you to a predetermined channel.
What your money buys
Starting at less than $100, entry-level fixed-mount DSC radios that use the GPS on your boat can be cost-effective upgrades. Although earlier DSC-equipped radios had only basic functions, several new models provide multifunctional, user-friendly interfaces.
For a little more than $300, Standard Horizon’s Matrix AIS (GX2100) is a 25-watt fixed-mount VHF with a built-in Automated Identification System dual-channel receiver with AIS target display, wireless microphone, Class D DSC and more.
The same company also sells a 6-watt floating handheld DSC radio, the HX851, with a 12-channel GPS receiver and all DSC functions that can output to your chart plotter. At less than $200, it’s a relatively inexpensive upgrade.
Click here for more information about Rescue 21. Information about DSC can be found here.