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Have you ever received a real DSC distress call?
There are quite a few test DSC alerts out here near Seattle - I've seen at least one a month during the busy season - but I am not sure where they come from or if they are real tests, or something fouling up. They usually show up as AIS SART test or something similar.
I've also heard at least 10 real ones that I can think of. One or two of them actually triggered everything to point of me being able to hit "GO" on my auto pilot to take me to the reporting station.
I think more tests would be great, especially if they were at a particular day/time every week or something. Would really help to validate everything is working on your boat!
In 14 months travelling I heard one real distress and two false alerts. In twelve years on Lake Michigan I've never heard a peep out of my DSC features of my radios. To the point I had no confidence in the DSC functions.
I've had experiences like Steve, when I receive a distress alert my helm goes nuts. The radios make a heart-stopping racket and the MFDs would all really like to go to the location of distress. The one time I received a real distress alert I took a picture of my radio's display because it showed lat & long of the distress and I wasn't sure what would happen if I acknowledged the call.
I suspect we could do a couple of these polls. Another interesting one would be around DSC station calling and group MMSIs. Ben and I talked about it this morning and I know that neither he nor I have ever used them. I have a feeling that's telling. If neither of us have I suspect the ranks of those that have are pretty limited.
Here, in coastal BC waters, over the past three years the DSC alarm on our VHF has sounded many times; maybe 7 or 8 times? Most of these have been real distress calls but not all. (At least 2 were foreign vessels doing a test and then getting reprimanded by the Canadian Coast Guard.)
We received one DSC alarm, while sailing South offshore of the mouth of the Columbia River in September of 2015. Made a horrible racket (woke the skipper right up!) and left a mark on the screen of our Ray e95. I also noted the presence of an AIS marker at the same location (about 25 miles behind us). I waited a bit, but heard nothing on CH16, so I called the USCG and reported it. They actually called us about 20 minutes later to thank us and tell us it was a false alarm from a fishing boat.
Other than that -we got nuttin 🙂
Hartley & Lesley