Animated Knots

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Ketchikan Yacht Club (KYC)
P.O. Box 6694
Ketchikan, Alaska 99901

Roger Maynard

The Ketchikan Yacht Club (KYC) is a domestic non-profit corporation, registered and licensed to do business in the State of Alaska. The Ketchikan Yacht Club blog is an information service for members and guests, and a public advertisement for the Ketchikan Yacht Club.

Boating and navigation information in this blog is published in good faith based on the best information available including local knowledge, but is not intended to replace authoritive sources. Mariners are cautioned to use all authoritive sources when planning trips or operating a boat.

The Ketchikan Yacht Club is organized as a social and recreation club under section 501(C)(7) of the U.S. Tax Code; contributions are not tax deductible.

Cruising | People | Safety

Great Northern Boaters Net
Ham radio morning boaters net begins Wednesday, 4/23

TIME: Daily, 0630 Alaska time; 0730 Pacific Time, summer months
FREQUENCY: 3870 KHz Lower Sideband
REQUIREMENTS: Operator must have an amateur radio license

Darlene and Floyd Minor

“Good Morning, this is Darlene, KL0YC, along with Floyd, WL7CUO, northern net control for the Great Northern Boaters Net.”

Each morning at 0630 hours, Alaska time, Darlene and Floyd Minor host an informal ham radio net to pass messages and information and keep boaters who are ham radio operators in touch with each other. Usually, Darlene starts by calling for cruisers who are underway or preparing to get underway, followed by a general call for anyone who wants to check in to the net.

Having sailed around Southeast Alaska themselves, the Darlene and Floyd’s familiarity with the local cruising environment gives them a unique ability to be conversant with boaters about the weather, sea conditions, intentions and reports of any problems.

More than just a roll call, the net has a “feel” similar to a conversation with friends over morning coffee. Many of the boaters return to Alaska waters year after year, and the radio net is a vehicle for forging new friendships as well as staying in touch with old-timers. Darlene’s radio conversation is interspersed with comments like, “Love you guys,” “Hugs,” and “73 and 88” (from Morse Code prosigns for “best wishes” and “hugs.”)

Both refer to their home on an island in Dora Bay as “The Shack,” another carryover from ham radio operators, who commonly refer to their radio room as the “ham shack.” Darlene and Floyd regularly invite folks who check in on the net to stop and visit “the shack” in Dora Bay when in the area.

Although the conversation is usually informal in nature, the net is part of the amateur radio National Traffic System; cruisers can send and receive radio messages to stay in touch with family and friends, or arrange for assistance while in remote locations.

At the end of a half hour–at 0700 hours Alaska time, Floyd and Darlene close the northern portion of the net, allowing the southern portion of the net to begin on the same frequency. The southern portion covers the British Columbia and Washington portions of the inside passage, as well as a roll call for offshore (ocean) cruisers. The southern portion is a bit more formal, covering more populated areas with more folks checking in.

Although hams can use up to 1500 watts of power, Floyd and Darlene find about 100 watts to be adequate during normal operation. Floyd recently erected a custom-built full-wave 80-meter wire loop antenna in the tall trees around the house, and there are no close neighbors to cause radio interference–a winning combination when trying to communicate over long distances.

Often, boaters do not check in to the radio net when they are in various ports, partly due to busier schedules in town, but also because busy harbors often have electrical interference from battery chargers, fluorescent lights and other sources of static that adversely affect radio signals.

Boaters (and other hams) can check in from anywhere, but Darlene reports that the dividing line between the northern and southern portions of the net seems to be around the Cape Caution area (just north of Vancouver Island, British Columbia.) South of Cape Caution, communications with Dora Bay are less reliable.

When asked, Darlene said that recent years have seen a slight decline in the number of boaters checking in regularly, probably the result of the increasing popularity of sat-phones and radio email to stay in touch with friends and family. Still, the ham radio net survives because of the diligent efforts of people like Floyd and Darlene who enjoy meeting new people, staying in touch, and having a conversation with friends over morning coffee.

(Click here to learn more about the Great Northern Boaters Net.)

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