Put the "ing" in your Boating

Call: 519-538-2887

Call: 1-519-538-2887

black_torchThe forecasted "less than a metre waves and some fog patches" soon became three metres and dense fog with zero visibility for hours, on our run from Kincardine to Tobermory.

To alert them of our situation, we called Coast Guard on the VHF Radio. No signal.

The cell phone? Absolutely no signal there either.

Now we were out on Lake Huron in these conditions with no contact with the world—talk about feeling alone and insignificant.

Then, we discovered something quite remarkable that we'd like to share with boaters everywhere.


I remembered something our daughter Jen told us months ago. She said "most times in big box stores when we have no cell signal, we can send and receive text messages to keep track of each other in the store". I really didn't expect texts to work out on Lake Huron without a cell signal, but "It's worth a try" I thought. "I'll put my new Blackberry Torch to the test".

Texting with no signal?

I texted our son-in-law Scott and lo and behold, he replied. How is that possible with no signal? I texted him back all the details of our boat and situation including our course and destination and our lat and long. I also said I would text our position every 15 minutes and if he didn't hear from me to call Coast Guard and give them the information.

It was comforting to know that someone out there knew where we were and that help would arrive if we had needed it. As well, we had a source of information. We didn't need to on this trip, but we could have asked him to look up anything on the internet and get the information back to us. It would have given us access to further weather services, or anything at all that we might need. I am not sure how texting works with no signal, but it worked for us.

About an hour later, we got a cell phone signal and were able to call Coast Guard on *16 to alert them of our situation with an agreement to check every half hour until we got to our destination. I also kept communicating with Scott by text—just in case.

Fog Lifted

After four hours, the fog lifted and we were able to find out way in through the buoys into Tobermory Harbour tired but safe.

ideaWe have since been in touch with Canadian Coast Guard with our story and suggestion that they add texting capabilities to their communication options of VHF and *16 for the Cell phone. So many boaters carry smart phones now, it only makes sense to have a texting option with Coast Guard. Let's hope they can make this happen.

File a Float Plan and Text a Friend

Until then, it might be wise to file you float plan AND also pick someone who will be available for texting and stay in touch with text messages. Then, you have another option for help if you should ever need it.

So, if you ever find yourself in a similar situation of no VHF or cell signal, don't give up. Your Smart Phone is smarter than you think. Try texting a family member or friend. It could save your life.

Brenda Dawson

 

 

 

 

See also:  What Would You Do If???

Comments (3)

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Hi Brenda. Just read your article on texting without a signal. If I'm not mistaken, someone in the cell phone industry once told me that the reason we can get text messages but not the ability to make calls is the the text sytem uses a different...

Hi Brenda. Just read your article on texting without a signal. If I'm not mistaken, someone in the cell phone industry once told me that the reason we can get text messages but not the ability to make calls is the the text sytem uses a different frequency to transmit. Kind of like the difference between an AM radio frequency and an FM frequency. I believe it is similar to a pager. Also a text message like a page can be stored until the signal is able to reach your device

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This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Frequencies aren't different, but data structure is and texts only require very minimal bandwidth. So when you luckily get a wiff of a signal, for a time possibly shorter than you'd even notice if it did blip the bars display, the text can burst...

Frequencies aren't different, but data structure is and texts only require very minimal bandwidth. So when you luckily get a wiff of a signal, for a time possibly shorter than you'd even notice if it did blip the bars display, the text can burst the data out. SMS text storage and confirmation is the other reason as stated. Phone and system work to confirm delivery of texts and will store them and re-transmit them over and over until deliver is made. You've got to try every bit of technology onboard sometimes.

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I think this is because the text can be "pushed" in a fraction of a second so that if there is cell service for a slit second it will push the text out. I've done this underground on the subway and texts go through when it appears that there is...

I think this is because the text can be "pushed" in a fraction of a second so that if there is cell service for a slit second it will push the text out. I've done this underground on the subway and texts go through when it appears that there is no signal - not always right away but usually within a couple minutes.

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