A radio guide compiled by San Diegoï¿½s Downwind Marine lists more than 80 marine single-sideband and ham nets worldwide. Many of these are grassroots efforts by groups of cruisers focusing on a specific geographic area; the Southbound Net, for instance, is run by cruisers for cruisers and serves the Pacific coast of Mexico.
The marine single-sideband nets are available to any station with an FCC “SA,” or Ship Recreational license. When checking into these nets, cruisers use their boat names and the call sign assigned with their SA license. In most cases, the ham nets operate on frequencies requiring a general-class ham license. Many countries, including Mexico, require an additional provisional license in addition to the FCC licenses. Be sure to check the individual requirements of the country in which youï¿½ll be traveling.
While most cruisersï¿½ nets are fairly informal, gthey are usually run by a volunteer net controller who recognizes vessels checking in and facilitates the passage of traffic. Typically, the nets follow a standard format beginning with a call for emergency, medical or priority traffic. If nothing is heard, underway vessels are then invited to check in and pass traffic. Some nets follow up the underway vessels with a weather report and then a session for QSTs or general announcements of interest to cruisers in the area. Most nets wind things up by giving boats that are not underway a chance to pass traffic. The ham nets, which often include land-based operators, also provide an opportunity for boaters to pass two-way traffic via phone patches to the folks back home.
Cruisers’ Nets: a Sample Listing
*Frequencies are upper sideband unless indicated by “LSB”. Times given as universal coordinated time.