SSCA obtains new FCC license to benefit cruisers

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When Glenn Tuttle was asked to join the Board of Directors of the SSCA, he thought to himself, “How could he combine his passions; cruising and radio communications and serve SSCA?”

He realized that perhaps he could make useful contributions to the organization and the cruising community by promoting the use of radio communications among cruisers. 

A full-time live-aboard for over 30 years, who’s cruised 10 years in remote areas of the Southern and SW Caribbean, spending months at a time at anchor without cellular or Internet access, Glenn realizes the importance of the HF/SSB radio aboard cruising vessels. Although a satellite phone is a great resource, and he used an Iridium phone during his cruising in the Caribbean, it is not a replacement for a HF/SSB radio. This was proven last summer when he was involved in the rescue of two Bahamian fishermen

Glenn suggested to the Board that they establish an SSCA Voice Service (not a formal net) on the HF radio band to assist cruisers in remote locations who are without cellular and Internet access, in order to relay priority and emergency information and to provide any vessels needing assistance with additional resources. The assistance could include radio checks, float plans, telephone contact with family/friends, boat to boat relays, access to medical or mechanical professionals, marinas, Internet searches, or other assistance that he might be able to provide to cruisers in remote locations. All vessels are welcome to participate in this service provided by the SSCA.

However, in order to reach the far corners of the Caribbean and beyond, a land based radio and antenna system is needed, similar to the excellent system used by Chris Parker of the Marine Weather Center. Such a radio station, operating on the marine bands from a land station requires a “Private Coast License” from the FCC. The SSCA is pleased to report the SSCA was successful in obtaining such license, and is now authorized to operate under the call sign “KPK” from my residence in Punta Gorda, Florida. Glenn has erected a 70’ tower with a rotatable directional beam antenna tuned for the 8 Mhz marine band which will effectively reach the entire Caribbean and beyond.

Currently, the SSCA is involved in discussions with Chris Parker, Dick Giddings, Rick Medero and other cruisers active on SSB nets regarding the most effective time and frequency to conduct this service. Just the other day, contact was made with the S/V Banjo and the S/V Southern Mist. Both vessels are offshore, headed to the Rio Dulce in Guatemala, and requested assistance in making marina reservations, etc. The marina and the ship’s agent in Guatemala were reached via Skype and their reservations were made! This is exactly what was envisioned as the purpose of this net.

The SSCA would welcome any comments and suggestions from cruisers regarding this proposed service. The FCC license authorizes us to operate on 8.104, 8.137, and 8.152. 

Please send any suggestions and comments to SSCAVoiceNet@gmail.com.

For more information, please check www.ssca.org or email SSCAVoiceNet@gmail.com.