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by Tim Hasson, Marine Computer Systems, Inc.
Owners of some Inmarsat terminals have had it for a while. Then, starting a few years ago, it began appearing on our marine radio equipment as well. We saw it first on new VHF radios, and now even SSB transceivers from companies like Icom have it. "It" is The Red Button -- that switch on the radio panel sitting under it's protective lift-up guard, ominously labelled "DISTRESS".

The red button is there thanks to something called the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System, or GMDSS for short. While GMDSS has been in the making for over 20 years, it represents a new school of thought when it comes to maritime safety and distress communications. To put GMDSS in perspective, it's helpful to know a little about the "old school" system it replaces.   more...


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Thank you for publishing this great article!!! Digital Selective Calling (DSC) has been available for about 5 years now, but only a very few recreational boaters, if any, in the Great Lakes have taken advantage of it. This is probably the greatest advance in boating safety recently and it is available to everyone at no cost!!! If you have it on your VHF, get it hooked up for next season and urge all of your friends to hook up as well. Interfacing with your GPS is quite simple using the NMEA in/out wires and the identifier (MMSI) number is available from the Boat/US website. If you don't have it, get it. Entry level radios are available for $130 or so. We do not have to wait for the Coast Guard to install anything. As recreational boaters, we are our own first responders. Do yourself and your fellow boaters a favor and get hooked up. -- Eric Lind, Suttons Bay MI11/22/2005 11:12:55 AM
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