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For coastal sailing GMDSS requires that local vhf forecasts are provided, and indeed, they are generally very good, though, if it were possible to fit it all in, the UK could learn from both France and Ireland.

Navtex provides longer range transmissions (510Mhz  and  490Mhz). Navtex is a good backup and on some occasions I have copied the extended forecast because it is so interesting, but that happens so rarely that I have not bothered to link Navtex to the PC. In Europe I generally use the 490Mhz frequency during daylight to pick up local forecasts (such as inshore waters), but switch to 510Mhz overnight to pick up the national forecast and the extended forecasts.

The change to Digital Selective Calling mainly benefits the Search and Rescue services, though it is valuable, when crossing the Channel to speak direct to the watch officer on an approaching ship by getting the MMSI  from the  AIS display(effectively the ‘telephone number’) and making a DSC call.

In New Zealand, there is no Navtex,and large gaps in vhf availability, which emphasises the importance of SSB there.

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