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Discussion Starter #1
The quandary. Here I have this super-doper, keeno-neato, yippidy-do-da new Prize VHF radio courtesy of a thread contest at BoatingABC. It is too just cool for words, which should be obvious from the previous sentence. Beyond the excellent weather reports (which I listen to now at least twice a day) I have yet to hear a human voice squawk through the speaker.

Granted, I'm in the friggin' desert here, and the odds of frequent marine emergencies probably run a little higher than a direct meteorite splash into my cat's water dish. But I have been listening a fair amount over the last few weeks (slow summer..)

So methinks to meself, it might be time to seek expert advice. So I decide to run down to the local National Forest Service Headquarters yesterday to see what I could learn about Marine VHF use (or lack thereof) in the high mountain desert where I make my home.

Easy to find right off of I-25, I park the Jag and walk inside. Nice new building, very tastefully decorated in the decor of the Southwest inside. Nice place. Two individuals are occupying the space behind the counter. The new CNN mini-series 'War-Monger Bush vs Flip-Flop Kerry' is playing on a TV set behind the counter. The older gentleman could have been forty, or sixty, or ninety, or he might have died young right where he was standing for all of the animation in his face. Classic Government worker. In any case, he didn't appear to have had any caloric intake for months. Nametag says "Phillips". His Ranger uniform is so well pressed I think he might be a mannequin. Here goes:

"I was hoping to get some information about VHF radio usage in and around Albuquerque".

"You're in the God forsaken desert, sir" he spews. Great start, I think.

"Ray of sunshine, Howard is" says the late-thirtyish large breasted Hispanic lady standing there with him. Nametag says Jaramillo. "Looks like death, don't he?"

Howard clears his throat and says, "What would you like to know sir, beyond the stated very obvious?"

"He's been cranky for some ten years now" she offers, "and drunk most of the time."

"I had hoped to develop a laudanum habit in the tradition of Byron and Shelly," Howard says, "but the procurement of the substance here is, to say the least, difficult."

"Oh yeah, that month you drank Nyquil on the rocks but that didn't help either. He'd drop off right there at the counter standing straight up, stands or sits there asleep sometimes for hours, then jolts up awake and finishes his drink. I have to say though, you never coughed once." She leans across the counter towards me and says, "Howard pretends to have consumption sometimes, he thinks it's sexy."

Our tax dollars at work I'm thinking.. but I like these two instantly. I can't decide if I should continue further at this time or come back later on Friday afternoon with a bottle of Padron and a Budlight six-pack and a few cigars. These two may be more entertaining than anyone I have meet at the Cantina in months.

"I'm sure the good gentleman is not interested in the particulars of my substance abuse, Val" Howard offers. "How can we help you?"

OK, I am way past being serious now. These two have picked the wrong guy to play Ozzie and Harriet with. Time to unwrap Cigar Man.. I just happen to have a small Davidoff Petit cigarillo in my pocket. These are very much like the small sticks Clint Eastwood smoked in the spaghetti westerns.

So I slowly put the stick in my mouth, chew on the end a second and begin. "OK Howard, here's the deal. I have this new VHF or as I'm told Virgin Hailing Frequency radio. I had been warned that any Virgins that respond to a call from VHF band 69 have their hymens constantly monitored by the Vatican 24x7. And I anyone starts 'messing around' down there that a couple of Jesuits Priests will parachute in and start gouging you in the back with their Rosary Beads. I was just wondering if there was any truth to that rumor?"

Complete silence for like a minute while they digest my question. I don't know how long I can keep from smiling here. Surprisingly, Val is the first one to smile. Howard looks at her and then back at me and laughs. Better than being shot I figure..... the rest of the exchange was anti-climatic. I left with a brochure that lists the same instructions as my owners manual. I still have much to learn about my new prize radio.. as well as the Park Service here in New Mehico..

To be continued..
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I think this must be a Service Pack 2 issue. If I use MS Word to create my posts - all of the special charachters come up this way, but only on machines that are not running SP2. Wierd.....
 

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Discussion Starter #5
That should have fixed it.....
 

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According to the USCG FAQ on marine radio use:

Question: I live far from the ocean. Now that portable VHF marine radios are inexpensive and unlicensed, and have 68 channels, can I use them for communicating with my buddies while hunting or similar purposes off the water? A recent outdoors magazine recommended I consider doing so.

Answer: No! Although the FCC does not require boaters with these radios have a license, users not following FCC rules on the use of these radios are still subject to severe fines. Although you may not be near the ocean, you may be near an inland waterway, or propagation anomalies may cause your transmission to be heard in a waterway. If this occurs, depending upon the channel on which you are transmitting, you could interfere with a search and rescue case, or help cause a collision between passing ships. The FCC recently established a family radio service for the purposes you describe. Consider using it instead.
Now, if you are 250 miles from an inland waterway, you should never have occasion to step on authorized marine communications. If you never create a problem, there will never be a complaint. No complaint: no fine. OTOH, you may encounter some FCC drone, with a scanner, looking to make an example of dangerous miscreants who misuse the airways. I'd never want to be on the receiving end of some bureaucrat trying to flex his regulatory muscles.

OTOOH, I'm sufficiently out of the loop that I was unaware that the handhelds required no license.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Another irony..... the only place you CAN'T get a VHF weather forecast in NM.....on the LAKE...... :argh:
 
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