VHF Radio Use for Rescue Water Craft

MARINE VHF RADIO

Let’s take a very quick basic overview of the use and function of a Marine VHF radio analog technology. Keep in mind there is a lot more to know FOR VHF Radio use, so use this guide as a precursor for further educational benefits by conducting your own research. VHF band is by law intended for use by mariners.

TERMINOLOGY-Marine VHF radio refers to the radio frequency range between 156 and 174 MHz VHF signifies the ‘Very High Frequency’ of that range. So that leads to what is MHz? Megahertz is used to express microprocessor clock speed. The unit is occasionally used in measurements of bandwidth for high speed digital data, analog and digital video signals and spread spectrum signals.

International Distress, Safety and Calling. Ships required to carry radio, USCG, and most coast stations maintain a listening watch on this channel.

CHANNEL 16- Marine VHF radio Channel 16 (156.800 MHz) Boater Calling Channel (VHF Channel 9)
The Federal Communications Commission established VHF-FM channel 9 as a supplementary calling channel for noncommercial vessels (recreational boaters) at the request of the Coast Guard. A ship or shore unit wishing to call a boater would do so on channel 9, and anyone (boaters included) wishing to call a commercial ship or shore activity would continue to do so on channel 16. Recreational boaters would continue to call the Coast Guard and any commercial facility on channel 16.

The purpose of the FCC regulation was to relieve congestion on VHF channel 16, the distress, safety and calling frequency. FCC regulations require boaters having VHF radios to maintain a watch on either VHF channel 9 or channel 16, whenever the radio is turned on and not communicating with another station.

Since the Coast Guard generally does not have the capability of announcing an urgent marine information broadcast or weather warning on channel 9, use of channel 9 is optional. We recommend boaters normally keep tuned to and use channel 16 in those waters unless otherwise notified by the Coast Guard. Channel 16 is monitored by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and they will issue weather, hazards and restriction placed on navigation alerts when they are needed in your area of operation (AO). There are 50 different channels available with select defined roles by the FCC. Once contact is made on Channel 16 the USCG may redirect you to another channel.

Channel 16 should be monitored when you are underway in case a distress signal and request for emergency support is issued you can respond. Keep this channel open for those who truly are in need of lifesaving connectivity.

USCG LINK

Procedure for Calling A Ship by Radio
You may use channel 16 to call a ship or shore station, but if you do so, you must, must be brief! We recommend this same procedure be used over channel 9, if channel 9 is used as a calling channel.

For example:

Blue Duck: "Mary Jane, this is Blue Duck" (the name of the vessel or MMSI being called may be said 2 or 3 times if conditions warrant)

Mary Jane: "Blue Duck, this is Mary Jane. Reply 68" (or some other proper working channel)

Blue Duck: "68" or "Roger"

MAYDAY Radio Checks and other Hoaxes
A growing number of boaters unsuccessful in getting a radio check on VHF channel 16 are calling MAYDAY to get a response. Every hoax, including MAYDAY radio checks, is subject to prosecution as a Class D felony under Title 14, Section 85 of the U.S. Code, liable for a $5000 fine plus all costs the Coast Guard incurs as a result of the individual's action. Since hoaxes can lead to loss of life, the Coast Guard and Federal Communications Commission will work closely together, using when necessary FCC equipment capable of identifying the electronic signature of the offending radio. We ask your cooperation in helping us and the FCC remove hoaxes from the VHF radiotelephone distress, safety and calling channel 16.

Radio Checks
Radio checks with the Coast Guard Communications Stations on DSC and HF radiotelephone are allowed.

ETIQUETTE - Do not use foul language, do not allow children to handle your Marine VHF radio but do teach them how to use it properly for an emergency distress call, it is not a toy, and is monitored for transmissions that are forbidden. Keep Channel 16 open for true emergencies. Know the channels and their complimentary functions.

But most importantly, know your radio! You may want to place in a waterproof bag, and not all of them float. So we operate with them affixed to the front of our lifejacket, but not near our chest, off towards our shoulders. Marine VHF is not for shore use only for on-water, if used on land you are in violation of the law unless you have a special permit.

Don’t hog a channel, be mindful others may need to use it, it’s not a social device for communication but is intended to support safety at sea and navigational needs.

BATTERY-They have a self-contained antenna and battery pack. Normal range of battery life is approximately 8 hours, but it depends, some claim 20 hours of use, but for me, it’s dependent on location, weather and use of the radio. Batteries can fail due to corrosion of it the case is cracked of the cover not secure. Also make sure you use the proper charger and follow the charging instructions.

GPS

VISUALS-Being able to see the display helps to know which channel you are on. You can lock the channel in as well, we use iCom radios. Dot Matrix Display is helpful when choosing the menu functions, over a standard 7 segment LCD display. Dot Matrix pixilation count is rated for its screen resolution. Some are backlit brighter than others and the buttons as well.

GLOBAL-Some of the radios have a built in GPS that can send to the USCG your exact position in case of emergency. This provides you your Latitude and Longitude position. You can used stored waypoints with this feature for navigation. Some radios have Digital Selective Calling (DSC), it’s similar to using a device like Spot Locators as an emergency beacon. You just have to push down on a button usually lit as a red or orange emergency distress and it will send an automated digital distress message to the USCG and others vessels with radios in the vicinity. Channel 70 is Note that channel 70 is now authorized only for Digital Selective Calling, an emergency automated distress system mandated by international treaty; channel 70 may no longer be used for voice communication

This feature is great because you can store your emergency contacts. Some radios have other accessories such as different battery types or headsets. You can use your radio to hail Towing companies such as Vessel Assist, which is more reliable than using a cell phone due to dropped calls and on-water range, waterproofing and battery life.
K38 recommends you have a separate GPS tracking device. In case one fails you have a backup.

RWC VHF Radio

CARE

WATTAGE-There are limitations of range due to a transmit power of six watts. This is why you see some RWC operators in calmer waterways adding a larger external antenna to transmit from a high location. For our Rescue Water Craft use you can average a five watt transmit power to work at three to eight miles of range with variables. Switching to some models using higher watt output you may drain your battery quicker, so be careful on your settings.

Recreational Marine VHF radios for recreational boaters are limited to output of 25 watts so transmitters cannot be boosted and operate on a line of sight between stations, the higher the atenna the better the result. However our handhelds are limited.

BATTERY LIFE-Radio manufactures have a generic recommendation for battery life. 90% standby, 5% to receive and 5% to transmit at high power. Read the owner’s manual and you can have great tutorials on your specific brand model.

By having your radio with you on your person you can communicate when away from your Rescue Water Craft, which is a great safety feature for yourself as the Operator or Crew. Even better if the vessel capsizes and you are separated from the RWC you have a safety threshold to hail for assistance.

CAREFUL-Do not drop your radio! This is how irreversible damage occurs and can render the radio dead. Also any strikes to helm while underway can damage the lens or the housing and destroy your radio, so use due care! Never store your radio inside the glove box or any other compartment without completely protecting your radio from strike damage and breakage!

Make sure you use silicone grease to maintain an anti-corrosion base your battery housing for water or condensation inside the housing, mainly near the battery cover opening and the buttons and the antenna base. Apply silicone weekly to the battery terminals. Make sure the radio is dry before placing in charger.

Do not bend the antenna! If the rubber is cracked, replaced the antenna immediately.

Rinse with fresh water! What I like to do is to evacuate the water from the microphone and button areas to try to reduce the signature of corrosion. Conduct a final post inspection by opening up the battery case and look for condensation or water invasion, cracks in the case and be sure to use silicone grease to maintain anti-corrosion practices.

CHECK! If you want to hail a second Rescue Water Craft or vessel here is some advice:

1. Before you splash your RWC, make sure your radio is fully charged.
2. Power your Radio ‘on’.
3. Set your volume and squelch buttons.
4. Conduct a Radio Check on Channel 9 (noncommercial and non-emergency channel)
5. Make sure you are both operating on the same radio channel, Ch. 1078 is good for some areas if there is not a lot of traffic, but then switch back to 16 when underway to listen for emergencies
6. You can also monitor your local weather broadcasts on your VHF radio
7. Push down the mic key for clearance to talk, it’s usually located on the side of the radio, then send your message and depress the key button.
8. Hail the second RWC pressing the mic key and holding it by stating the vessel name twice, followed by your vessels name: “K38 one, K38 one, this is K38 two on Channel 1078, over” release the key.
9. Once contact is made, and our conversation is completed “K38 two returning to standby Channel 16 or K38 two out”. Do not say ‘over out’.
10. Channel 9 is designated for the boat calling channel (156.450 MHz)

Don't leave shore without your VHF Radio

EMERGENCY

1. Securite-Securite-Securite: Warns crew or others about important safety information. Also used to issue warnings and meteorological updates. Such as towing someone with restricted maneuverability and you want others to avoid you.

2. Pan-Pan-Pan: Urgent situation but not at imminent risk. You are in moderate risk, and a hazard to navigation

3. Mayday-Mayday-Mayday: SOS distress signal. Sets Search and Rescue (SAR) in motion. Life threatening situation. You are going down, you have lost a man overboard or you are heading to the beach or rocks, imminent danger.

During emergencies we can rely on our volunteer Ham radio operators. Ham radio operators using their frequency will state ‘Break-Break-Break’ as the equivalent to a Mayday call, never use the term ‘Break’ unless imminent threat to property or life is present.

Global Maritime Distress & Safety System

VHF maritime channel 70 (156.525 MHz) is authorized exclusively for distress, safety and calling purposes using digital selective calling (DSC) techniques. No other uses are permitted.

Channel 70 is used to send distress alerts, safety announcements and for calling purposes under the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS). Many vessels are now equipped with DSC capability and are using channel 70 for this purpose. It is essential that this channel be protected.

Storm Warnings?
The Coast Guard announces storm warnings and other urgent marine information broadcasts on VHF channel 16 before making the broadcasts on VHF channel 22A and 2670 kHz respectively. Storm warnings and forecasts are also made by NOAA Weather Radio.

REFERENCE

Channel 16
International Distress, Safety and Calling. Ships required to carry radio, USCG, and most coast stations maintain a listening watch on this channel.

Channel 70
Digital Selective Calling (voice communications not allowed)

Channel 1078
Non-Commercial. VDSMS (USA Great Lakes commercial channels 1079, 1080)

USCG INFORMATION: Frequencies are in MHz. Modulation is 16KF3E or 16KG3E.
Note that the four digit channel number beginning with the digits "10" indicates simplex use of the ship station transmit side of what had been an international duplex channel. These new channel numbers, now recognized internationally, were previously designated in the US by the two digit channel number ending with the letter "A".

That is, the international channel 1005 has been designated in the US by channel 05A, and the US Coast Guard channel 1022 has been designated in the US as channel 22A. Four digit channels beginning with "20", sometimes shown by the two-digit channel number ending with the letter "B", indicates simplex use of the coast station transmit side of what normally was an international duplex channel. The U.S. does not currently use "B" or "20NN" channels in the VHF maritime band. Some VHF transceivers are equipped with an "International - U.S." switch to avoid conflicting use of these channels. See ITU Radio Regulation Appendix 18 and ITU-R M.1084-5 Annex 4.

These new channel numbers should eventually begin to be displayed on new models of VHF marine radios.
Boaters should normally use channels listed as Non-Commercial. Channel 16 is used for calling other stations or for distress alerting. Channel 13 should be used to contact a ship when there is danger of collision. All ships of length 20m or greater are required to guard VHF channel 13, in addition to VHF channel 16, when operating within U.S. territorial waters. Users may be fined by the FCC for improper use of these channels.

USCG Website

_______________________________

Published: August 28, 2018
Updated: February 11, 2019 (special thanks to Rene Haar for a suggested correction)

Have any questions? Join the Rescue Water Craft Association
and discover what your community is doing to modernize standards, safety and reduce liability!
Join the Rescue Water Craft Association

Content Creator: Shawn Alladio cares most about her community and the culture surrounding the safety of event service providers and Rescue Water Craft operators, working hard and dedicated towards protecting their reputation, distributing safety information and continuing to train these amazing individuals to the highest standards of care.

Use at your own risk. Please take a qualified Rescue Water Craft training course and maintain proper records and respect all the PWC, RWC, PPE, and gear OEM manufacturer warning labels and cautions.

ETHANOL AND YOUR RESCUE WATER CRAFT

Ethanol in the United States is a big problem for our rescue water craft engines.

The problems with ethanol in other countries may not exist due to the corn based fuel we are using here in the USA.

Ethanol is a big concern for us as it acts as a solvent, is not good for long term fuel storage and gums up breather vent hoses for our fuel tanks. Inspections have increased and so have expenses.

Now we must purchase of marine grade fuel additive. One more problem to manage!

Storage needs to be limited of fuel for a period of 14 days in storage cans.

Make sure you are using a Marine Grade Fuel conditioner.

Fuel pumps can easily be destroyed, fuel filters clogged with the toothpaste looking ethanol.

Gaskets, rubber and the interior of fuel lines and storage cans are problematic.

No matter what it boils down to, it’s money. You need to update your RWC annual budget and calculate how many gallons of estimate fuel burn to expect. Then do the math for fuel additive to fuel use and determine what your budget will require.

More time and money to manage, inspect and maintain hourly logs.

Most importantly this becomes a safety issue and a liability issue.

This is one action your department cannot afford to ignore.

Be careful with gummed up fuel ventilation hoses, the fuel tank needs to expand and contract with atmopspheric changes, such as heat or cold. Make sure you remove the seats prior to starting your Rescue Water Craft and allowing any low lying fumes to ventilate prior to engine start.

You are going to have to add in additional budgetary needs to cover the expense of a fuel stabilizer.

Add this check on your department inspection logs and make sure that you maintain efficiency with proper use and care.

These suggestions are to help you maintain a safe operation of your Marine Unit. However, please conduct your own research and update annually your program to compliment any changes in our Rescue Water Craft community.

Have any questions? Join the Rescue Water Craft Association
and discover what your community is doing to modernize standards, safety and reduce liability!

Content Creator – Shawn Alladio cares most about her community and the culture surrounding the safety of event service providers and Rescue Water Craft operators, working hard and dedicated towards protecting their reputation, distributing safety information and continuing to train these amazing individuals to the highest standards of care.

TOWING THE LINE

Towing the Line.

Saving time, resources, logistics and manpower.

Anyhow, its much easier to tow a few of them than to have multiple operators at times.

We do this often in a few of our training grounds as well, because logistics can really impede on the clock!

Tension is your friend, not shockloading the tow line. This can be a bit of a struggle like in this photo with swell. Each craft will have a ‘step and pitch’ to its hull length and the oncoming water action and height.

It is important to have a solid understanding of the following:
1. Connector point hardware
2. Breaking strength of line
3. Towing speed (safe speed)
4. How its going to end

I oftentimes tow alone with four Jet Skis, as well as load them onto a single 4 place water vehicle trailer.

Taking my time and being methodical helps, but also thinking ahead, not where I am at presently or behind me where the craft are dragging. It’s important to be relaxed, calm and sure.

This can save time and resource management with low personnel available.

If by chance the towing vessel takes on debris into the water intake and a hand clearing of the water intake screen doesn’t solve the situation, its not too hard to switch out with another towing boat as long as its not sidelined as well.

Look down the line.

Observe your idle speed.

Observe the length of your tow string (boats).

Think about using a pivot point to slowly draw the craft towards you at a stopped position.

If trailering draw them towards the trailer bunks and let the forward section of the craft rest on them until its time to fully load and secure. One at at time…

If its a shoreline, secure a landing zone that has about 30′ feet for you to draw each bow up onto the shore.

Do not tug too hard on the lines, draw them slowly and steadily.

Practice! You may find this is a simpler solution for some situations you have to operate with.

Thanks for listening!

Shawn Alladio – 6.15.2018


Shawn cares most about her community and the culture surrounding the safety of event service providers and Rescue Water Craft operators, working hard and dedicated towards protecting their reputation, distributing safety information and continuing to train these amazing individuals to the highest standards of care.

DO NOT USE HIGHLY FLAMMABLE PRODUCTS ON YOUR RWC ENGINE

Never use any type of anti corrosive spray that say ‘highly flammable’ in the Information section.

I have come across far too many of my k38 students who have been given poor advice by others.

This advise could be dangerous or even deadly.

This is why the manufacturer’s of Personal Water Craft give direct advice and guidance for the types of products
they would like clients to use. Many ignore their safety warnings and place themselves and their crews at risk for explosion or injury.

The second threat is to the exhaust cooling rubber hoses. If the hoses lost their structural integrity they will fail. This means a Rescue Water Craft can take on water suddenly and sink. This could end up as a total loss.

Your preventative sprays are to be used with a cooled engine after washing down the engine compartment or completing the fresh water rinse/flush of the exhaust cooling lines.

Pay attention to all your actions and research the information and get other opinions if you are learning.

It does not require much effort and you will do better with your program in many ways.

Shawn Alladio – 6.14.2018


Shawn cares most about her community and the culture surrounding the safety of event service providers and Rescue Water Craft operators, working hard and dedicated towards protecting their reputation, distributing safety information and continuing to train these amazing individuals to the highest standards of care.

SOGGY HANDS

Scientific Laboratory tests have a theory that wrinkly soggy fingers improve our human grip on wet or submerged objects.

The grooves in the wet skin work to channel away water in the same fashion that rain treads in vehicle tires moving underway. People often assume that wrinkling is the result of water passing into the outer layer of the skin and making it swell up.

This directs to the change being an involuntary reaction by the body’s autonomic nervous system, the system that also controls breathing, heart rate and perspiration according to the study.

This creepy and distinctive wrinkling is caused by blood vessels constricting below the skin the study says, but this has been recently disputed. So far there is no accurate description of why our bodies experience this.

I have always said ‘these are my cadaver hands’. They bounce back within an hour when away from moisture. This also happens during sweating from high humidity, so it is some definite physiological response, but I am not sure why.

Since I am on the water for hours upon hours wearing gloves, all saturated with water, my skin goes ‘soft’ pretty quick. I always assumed it was from being ‘waterlogged’. The soles of my feet also experience the same soggy foot syndrome lol. My lips will eventually fall prey further after during long distance events.

I do know from experience having broken down at sea and been in the water for hours waiting for rescue that my soft skin that was exposed was aggressively and persistently attacked by small bait fish as a food source. They would burrow until the first epidermis layer was flayed away.

There is something to nature not missing a beat for an opportunity to survive from another living organism.

I am still waiting for a true scientific confirmation on soggy hands and feet.

Meanwhile, cover up when training and keep the bugs and leeches away from any open skin areas. Wear good Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). You will feel better.

MAINTAIN THE TRAILER JACK

TRAILERS!

Maintain your trailer jack for safety and for economy.

Yes, they need your attention! There is something wrong with this picture? Do you see it! LOL

When it gets this bad, something is missing. There is no respect for the program. If there is no respect for the transport device, imagine what is going wrong with the Rescue Water Craft and the safety of personnel?

How much is your life worth? Don’t think trailer maintenance is not important. Getting on the road, a damaged trailer can kill others, your driver or you.

When I see items like this, I know my work is cut our and probably there will not be much I can do. It is up to the students to take 100% responsibility for their education towards capability.

When a trailer jack gets to this point, expect associated costs to soar for repairs.

When a trailer jack cannot be moved, that means the physics of the device are wasted and humans will literally bear the burden.

Back damage, trailer potential to fall on a foot and crush it, medical costs, time off duty and a lifetime of aches and pains. Is it worth it?

Get out your trailer check list and starting giving it some of your attention. #donotdothis

NEEDS
1. Grease Gun with marine grease (for the handle zerc fitting)
2. Anti rust product such as Naval Jelly
3. Fresh water rinse the trailer immediately after every use in salt water conditions (buy a galvanized trailer not powder coated)
4. Inspect the crank handle and spray down with silicone spray after every use
5. Make sure your wheel jack is compatible with the weight load of the trailer and that the tongue weight of the trailer is accurate.

Trailer Jack

Shawn Alladio – 5.30.2018


Shawn cares most about her community and the culture surrounding the safety of event service providers and Rescue Water Craft operators, working hard and dedicated towards protecting their reputation, distributing safety information and continuing to train these amazing individuals to the highest standards of care.

TRAILER BUNK DAMAGE

Yes this trailer bunk damage is bad. It doesn’t have to be this way.

This is from repeated use with trailers and totes.

When the end bunk on your trailer or tote is damaged, it will effect your Rescue Water Craft. When you push the RWC onto the bunk, the end points will bear the full weight load on that pivot point. That weight bearing contact point is going to create an immediate pressure point.

If there is any damage such as a broken piece of metal, exposed bolt, sharp edge of the trailer exposed, wood sliced or the bunk is bent, problems will be imminent and they may be hidden by the bunk location.

Make sure you have checklists for your trailers and totes and take them out of service until they are repaired.

If you have a failed bunk you will immediately begin to distress the bottom deck of the Rescue Water Craft hull.

Depending upon the constructive materials such as fiberglass, the gelcoat will fleck away and expose the fiberglass mat. This can lead to a delamination underway when the hull makes surface contact with the speed, creating ventilation to the damage area. This can be a costly experience and should be caught in your post operations check inspection.

Good luck!

RWC trailer damage

Shawn Alladio – 2018

Shawn cares most about her community and the culture surrounding the safety of event service providers and Rescue Water Craft operators, working hard and dedicated towards protecting their reputation, distributing safety information and continuing to train these amazing individuals to the highest standards of care.

RESCUE BOARD FRICTION

Unfortunately Rescue Boards (TAD-Towable Accessory Device) do more damage to our Rescue Water Craft astern due to vessel designs changing but the Rescue Boards designs are not adapting to the newer models. Do Rescue Boards work? Absolutely.

However, the use of these (TAD) Towable Accessory Devices have assisted in the recovery of many persons in distress and we are thankful for their utility.  Let’s take a look at considerations of repair and contact points.

Inflatable type designed rescue boards/sleds are not approved for Rescue Water Craft (RWC) safety use due to stability and connectivity.  This discussion refers to fixed core rescue boards that cannot be deflated.

It takes a lot of effort to maintain your Rescue Water Craft and Rescue Board. This requires of Public Safety Agencies to have effective training and proper inspection lists to note when Rescue Boards or RWC’s need to be removed from service due to safety maintenance or repairs.

Some models of Personal Water Craft (PWC) interface to the various Rescue Boards or Towable Accessory Devices (TAD) do not interface well with the variety of Rescue Water Craft (RWC) hulls from year of production, makes and models.

Please refer to the Rescue Water Craft Association recommended RWC’s for 2018:

Approved 2018 Rescue Water Craft

It is not an easy interface for sure!  Make sure you are watching the attachment points from each use and inspect your hull for wear through the top deck. This requires your RWC Operators to understand what to look for, why it is important and how to inspect and maintain their equipment before a mishap occurs from negligence.

This is especially true for NanoXcel hulls in comparison to fiberglass/gelcoat hulls. These lighter hulls tend to have more flex and the newer models have a concave top deck astern. This is also true for some Sea Doo models.

  

Will this cause harm to your Rescue Water Craft? What should you be concerned about?

The center load bearing pressure point and the pivot from port to starboard along with how the Rescue Board is designed oftentimes do not have a complimentary fit. Problems may occur from compression indentations against the Rescue Board.  Remember, we are not permitted to drill only holes through the RWC hull and we cannot add any metal fittings on the top deck due to safety risk and liability.

Also take note of any entrapment from extension on port/starboard connector points of the Rescue Board, catch points and flexion caused by poor handle placement. These all lead up to contributing factors of friction and Rescue Board contact points to the RWC.

Think one word exclusively: PHYSICS

This means the pressure points from a rescue board are going to be pressed downward at the port/starboard sides and can wear completely through the top deck. This can result in a wear hole through the top deck surface

  

Bondline Molding damage and damage to contact point of the TAD Point of Contact

Remember: These are recreational Power Water Craft. They are not designed for Search and Rescue or Patrol work. They are designed for recreational activity use. (With the exception of the AlumaSki, Sea Doo SAR and RescueRunner which are occupational manufactured craft).

When you employ the use of a Rescue Board it will require of your agency effective ‘use, inspection and care‘ guidelines for liability and for safety underway. Failure to do so can result in loss of the Rescue Board, damage that cannot be repaired and budgetary needs for RWC maintenance and care. This can also lead up to agency liability issues.

Is this in your annual budget? Do you have maintenance repair items in stock ready to go?

K38 can help your agency set up your RWC program through professional consultation.

  

Friction points caused by the forces of action and unequal distribution of load, contact, drag or movement against he rescue board and the bond line or top stern deck.  Make sure inspections are thorough and replacement parts a readily available in your cache load maintenance gear.

Rescue Board

You may need to alter the material on the stern deck to raise up the void between the two substrates. Refer to your warranty first before you proceed on any modifications and adhere to the guidelines and rules of the warranty.

1.  Rescue boards can also pull off or damage the rail bond line or molding exposing the rivets. This can result in a safety hazard. Remove the RWC from service immediately if this happens.

2. Friction and impact can affect or damage the stern top deck or removable stern compartment covers on some models of RWC.

3. Re-boarding steps can be damaged or damage the underside of a Rescue board or cause a slight shock loading effect if the step makes contact on the underside of the rescue board and slides forward or back, this can result in issues with the center load bearing connector point.

4. Rescue Board friction pads or covers can splinter, break of fracture. They can even be ripped off the Rescue Board.
There are so many variables that come into play with physics and the actual weight load on the Rescue Board. Primarily it is the connective interface between the RWC and the Rescue Board that is most important.

 

Is your rigging causing harm or creating a solution? What are you willing to give up to gain?

There is no defining interface for rescue board use. It depends upon the make, model and year of production of RWC you have.

One thing is for sure, take some time to study the contact points, friction and how the Rescue Board is hooked up to the RWC to try to reduce the impending damage your RWC will suffer.

Shawn Alladio – 2018

Shawn cares most about her community and the culture surrounding the safety of event service providers and Rescue Water Craft operators, working hard and dedicated towards protecting their reputation, distributing safety information and continuing to train these amazing individuals to the highest standards of care.

Use at your own risk. Please take a qualified Rescue Water Craft training course and maintain proper records and respect all the PWC, RWC, PPE, and gear OEM manufacturer warning labels and cautions.

Become a member today of the Rescue Water Craft Association: JOIN THE RWCA

RESCUE WATER CRAFT BATTERY ISSUES

MELTDOWN

RESCUE WATER CRAFT BATTERY ISSUES

Rescue Water Craft batteries require your constant attention. Battery inspection needs to be a daily feature in your pre and post operations inspection.

It is only avoidable if there is knowledge. So now in the aftermath of discovery it is avoidable if the knowledge is retained. Before this it is just 'learning'.

That's a dead short you are looking at in the images above. It is the result of way too much current flow. How do you know that? The posts are molten where your cables would have been connected. That is one way to explode a battery, and could become a very dangerous situation quickly.

The Rescue Water Craft fuses should have helped to prevent an explosion. It would be important in these instances to inspect your fuses ASAP.

First off you need to refer to the make, model and year of production of your Rescue Water Craft and adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Questions
Is there too much slack in the lead wires or the battery strap harness inside the RWC while operating with this battery?

Is it missing the traction pad below it rests on? Is it the right type of battery?

Did this happen inside the Rescue Water Craft or was the battery brand new and being charged for use?

Jet Pump

Yuasa Battery

LOOSEY GOOSEY

Loose battery connections on the lead cables create resistance and turn into ‘heat’. If the cable was not tightened enough it could create resistance for the battery when it tries to bridge the gap and arcs with a high heat. There should be no white powder on the terminals and they should not move when touched and tugged to see if the posts swivel or move.

Tight terminals are a must, as are using an inspection daily check list post and pre-ops. Be consistent, its a bad deal when problems come your way when you are out on the water. It's better to catch them while the RWC is on the trailer. Don't splash your RWC until you are 100% seaworthy.

HINT: do not use a screwdriver, use a ratchet with a properly sized socket to adjust the Pos/Neg cables!

With a loose connection the wires which are small and the load is high, what does that mean? If a battery is loose inside a Rescue Water Craft, such as the straps are connected improperly or using the wrong strap sizes or one broke free or the battery size is wrong and does not fit into the stock tray, problems are imminent.

Take a close look at the battery tray location. Does your battery shape fit fully in the tray? If not, consider heading back to a stock battery, saving money is not gonna happen in this situation.

If the battery is the right size the straps may be problematic. Friction and movement of the battery can be an issue causing the wire connections to crack or fracture and this is the kind of a situation that can cause sparks. If the battery is bouncing around those sparks are like the same heat as an arc welder. A bad situation is at hand and fully preventable.

Or you could have a short inside the battery. Even a partial short and/or poor connection on the terminals can create significant problems. In these images it looks like the pos side had a meltdown.

This kind of a situation can create other problems such as the relay or starter motor engine could have experienced damage.

Jet Pump

Vents and Distilled Water

JUICED

Never jump a Rescue Water Craft from another running vehicle or charger, it will feed more amps into the system and can damage or destroy the MPEM or ECU units.

Also if jumping the battery, make sure you are using the right size cables, you need the smaller cables, larger ones will not correlate with the proper amperage, and would be a wasted attempt.

I would definitely inspect the fuse and the leads pos/neg cables for rust or corrosion. Sometimes this happens when people jump their RWC batteries off a vehicle that is running, which should NEVER be done. Our Rescue Water Craft are not set up to run the amps and voltage beyond 2.5 amps in their system, this can be very destructive.

There is not much difference in voltage between a nearly full battery and a depleted one, its less than 1.0 volts. If the RWC engine is running the charging system makes an attempt to maintain a specific voltage output to the battery. This depends upon the battery ability to absorb the charge translated as Amps and the charging system delivery of the full current the battery demands.

There is a lot of demand placed on a battery and its electrical partners; from the voltage, charging, stator alternator, solenoid and starter. Never jump your battery from a vehicle, you will overcharge the system. Stay under 2 amps while charging your battery.

A solenoid is an electrical switch which causes electrical contact from the starter circuit to ground power the coil and can handle the high voltage for the starter which begins the rotation of the motor. Solenoids make a distinct click sound. If you are jumping the battery and the solenoid cranks poorly then it’s not the solenoid, it could be just a bad connection.

You can check with a volt meter on the posts to get a reading. Then press the ‘start’ button and note if the voltage is lower. It may be a weak battery.

It is important to remember to protect the electrical system and the battery by not holding down the start button longer than 5 seconds and waiting 15 seconds prior to the next start.

Frequent starts will engage a quick shut down cycle on the battery if the engine cannot run. You don’t want to burn out your starter motor. Patience goes a long way and will help you understand the temperament of your RWC electrical system.

Don’t rush, take your time to troubleshoot and be patient.

Jet Pump

Waterproof Battery Tender

VOLTAGE

When the battery voltage drops low it’s time for a new battery. It is also possible to purchase a new battery that was not fully charged and it drops its voltage and becomes worthless pretty fast, requiring another new fully charged battery.

It is important to follow the directions for using the appropriate battery charger that can fully charge a new battery. Many times people do not follow suit properly and they waste time and money.

Waterproof battery tenders are often used for long time storage to help protect battery life. For some watercraft there are other contributing factors it could be a bad DESS key for a BRP Sea Doo as well. A simple replacement of the DESS key and coding might be the answer.

Always check a battery on a multi meter to see what the voltage level is. Make sure you are using the right battery that is recommended by the OEM manufacturer as well. Low voltage can be really bad for electronics and relays. Good batteries should be 12.3-12.5 volts but refer to your RWC brand to be specific.

Cheap batteries yield cheaper results and some of the batteries like Yuasa require a special charger to load the batteries, so that can be problematic and not getting a full charge. Use dieletric grease on the terminals in the future, you will be glad you did.

Rescue Water Craft batteries work best when the charge is maintained. Maintenance free batteries are highly recommended. Batteries get hot when working hard, so don’t overload the amperage by adding accessories to the craft that need an electrical draw.

Answer: Tight connections and Clean Cables are required, good straps and the appropriate fully charged battery. This was a brand new battery in the images above being charged.

Recap:
1. Bad Battery Sealed or Cell, gel cells or AGM (vented or not vented) Wet cell batteries need distilled water.
2. Poor Battery Connection-Partial short
3. Wrong Battery Used
4. DESS post failing (inductive arcing)
5. Fast Charged Battery
6. Inspect Fuse Box

This is not a tutorial, it’s a basic Q & A regarding battery connectivity. Take your RWC to a qualified mechanic for servicing and follow basic preventative maintenance schedules to ensure the longevity of your operations and underway safety.

Content Creator - Shawn Alladio cares most about her community and the culture surrounding the safety of event service providers and Rescue Water Craft operators, working hard and dedicated towards protecting their reputation, distributing safety information and continuing to train these amazing individuals to the highest standards of care.