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Suggestions on Winlink Position Reports

Posted on Sat 14 January 2012 in Amateur Radio

This is for all you Maritime Mobiles who are probably not really active in HAM Radio, but are using Winlink for email and position reports. Here are few operating suggestions:

Sending Position Reports


  • When you send a position report, ALWAYS but your vessel name in beginning of the comment fields. No one probably knows what your callsign is, but we can look around and see your boat name.
  • While underway, send at least one position report. I usually do this once a day on long passages or at roughly the midway on shorter passages. Its fun to later connect all the dots!
  • Always send a position report when you reach your destination indicating you are anchored or moored safely

Check Who’s around you

Did you know you can ask Winlink for a list of other people who are nearby? It goes without saying that you need to have updated your position recently for this to work. But assuming you have done that send a mail to INQURY with the subject REQUEST and the message body WL2K_NEARBY. Send that off and next time you check your mail you will have a list of nearby folks. Notice I didn’t say vessels. Winlink is for any HAM to use, so you will see RVers, Backpackers as well. Here’s a sample. If you always put your vessel name in your position report comments this is lot nicer to read!

List of users nearby W7PEA
Postion: 21-09.69N  105-13.60W  posted at: 1/11/2012 6:16:00 AM
(NOTE: All dates in UTC, distance in nautical miles and bearings true
great circle.)
Winlink 2000 Nearby Mobile Users
(Only the latest report for each call within the past 10 days is listed.
CALL     Dist(nm @ DegT)        POSITION             REPORTED           COMMENT
W7PEA          0.0 @ 000   21-09.69N 105-13.60W  2012/01/11 06:16  Deep
Playa - Anchored at Chacala
KJ6LNI        26.1 @ 198   20-44.83N 105-22.13W  2012/01/08 15:15  Anchored
in La Cruz
KJ6NYJ        26.5 @ 197   20-44.40N 105-22.00W  2012/01/10 23:08
VE0NAV        55.0 @ 319   21-50.88N 105-52.72W  2012/01/13 00:59
Arrived Isla Isabella much warmer here than Mazatlan All Good
KQ6MY         55.0 @ 319   21-50.88N 105-52.76W  2012/01/13 22:36
Isla Isabella
KJ6NKS       113.8 @ 169   19-18.03N 104-50.19W  2012/01/09 01:04  Here in
Tenacatita with all of our local friends
KD7NPI       113.8 @ 169   19-18.02N 104-50.15W  2012/01/09 00:39

Let People Know Who you Are

One of the best things you can do is to put your vessel name in your position reports. The next thing you can do is update your entry on the HAM Lookup servers, login to www.QRZ.com and www.HAMQTH.com and at least update your description with your vessel name and a link to your web page. This way if someone looks up your callsign because they saw it on Winlink they can know your vessel name and send you an email via Winlink or contact you on VHF. Pretty handy!

Living with PDFs

Posted on Thu 10 February 2011 in Geek

Since I decided an electronic copy of every paper thing on the boat, that means living with PDFs. I’ve also managed to get all of the agents I deal with (CPA, insurance, etc.) to adapt to using online means of communicating instead of face to face or snail mail. The ones who still insist on mailing me things I send to Earth Class Mail and have the documents scanned that way. This means I end up with  a lot of forms to fill out in PDF form.

I had been using a different tool, but today I found a great free tool that lets you fill out PDFs (even if they are not special “PDF form” format). It’s called NitroPDF Reader (@Nitropdf). It also let’s you scan in an image of your signature so you can edit the PDF, sign it and save it. The signature can be password protected as well. Very nice!

Another cool feature of NitroPDF Reader is that you can save PDFs directly to Evernote which is where I do most of my documentation of boat systems. I have a premium account and that let’s me sync (aka backup) to the web as well which lets me see notes from everywhere I can get web access or use my smartphones.

Great tools!

Researching Dinghy and Vessel Registration Requirements

Posted on Tue 09 June 2009 in Vessel Documentation

I keep getting a lot of “fog” from people who claim to know all that all dinghies are required to have state registration. This usually amounts to people saying “oh yeah well so and so just got a ticket the other day in their dinghy!”

I’m going to outline what I know and I’m going to outline some steps to get greater clarification on the issue. Here’s what I know and how I know it:

I bought a used 8.5” RIB which is USCG certified up to an 8hp outboard. I contacted the WA Department of licensing in June of 2008 explaining that and asking if I had to have state registration. They said no and this is their reply:

From: DOL INT Titles [mailto:TITLES@DOL.WA.GOV]\ Sent: Monday, May 19, 2008 18:28\ To: Patrick Walters\ Subject: RE: TenderDinghy Vessel registration

Hello Patrick,

As long as the outboard is less than 10 horse power, you do not need to register the tender if it is used exclusively to furnish transportation from a larger vessel to shore and return.

WAC 308-03-010 (18) Definitions

RCW 88.02.030 (6) Exceptions from vessel registration

Thank you,

Vehicle Services

I can’t actually find the link to that WAC code, but RCW 88.02.030 (6) reads as follows:

(6) Vessels equipped with propulsion machinery of less than ten horsepower that:\ (a) Are owned by the owner of a vessel for which a valid vessel number has been issued;\ (b) Display the number of that numbered vessel followed by the suffix "1" in the manner prescribed by the department; and\ (c) Are used as a tender for direct transportation between that vessel and the shore and for no other purpose;

Based on that I see no need to register my dinghy. My vessel; is USCG documented. That means, I do have to pay for WA registration and I have to display a current registration tag, but not the state registration numbers. I am also required buy the USCG to indicate that my dinghy is a tender to my vessel (tt Deep Playa) . I would assume I do not have show any additional stickers on my dinghy, but maybe I am required to display the state sticker or the registration with a “-1” on my dinghy.

There also seems to be some wiggle room with the “and for no other purpose”. Someone commented “if you have a fishing pole on that dinghy they’ll write you a ticket". I am sure some people who enforce these laws find them as confusing as I do.

So that leaves two more things to look into, here’s how I’m going to go about that. I am going to write the same letter  (email more likely) and send it to the following agencies who I feel should have the answer about the law:

  • Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna
  • Senator Ed Murray
  • Representative Jamie Pedersen
  • Representative Frank Chop

I thought about contacting the Police and Coast Guard, but I see them more as enforcement and not the “source” of what the law should be.

This should be a fun exercise, I’m expecting that its going to take a lot longer than I do right now (a month) to get an answer. I also think I’ll probably get differing answers, so my expectations are low, but I’m still thinking this will be somewhat fun. I’ll let you know about it as I go along.

Corrected WAC form Allan : The WAC they gave you is wrong.  The 03 should be 93, and the WAC should be WAC 308-93-010 (31), not WAC 308-03-010 (18) —  #18 is for lifeboat, while #31 is for tenders.