August 2008

New BoatUS Radio Tower Gives Mexico-Bound Boaters Peace Of Mind

When boats break down on the water or run out of gas, West Coast boaters often rely on Vessel Assist, the on-the-water towing company from BoatUS, to help with a tow back to a safe harbor, fuel drop off or jump start.

However, Mexico-bound boaters have struggled for years in obtaining US-based non-emergency assistance. "It was a problem because cell phones don't work well in Mexican waters and most boats were simply too far south of the border for us to hear their VHF radio calls," said BoatUS Assistant Vice President of Towing Operations Heather Sheward.

That has now all changed

Ensenada boaters can now call for help thanks to the opening of a new BoatUS VHF radio transmission tower atop San Diego's 2,505-foot high San Miguel Mountain. With its high elevation, the new radio tower gives boaters who may be dozens of miles down the Mexican coast or fishing offshore the ability to contact Vessel Assist through the BoatUS 24-hour dispatch center with a simple VHF radio call.

"With VHF radio technology, elevation is the name of the game because it's 'line-of-sight' communications," said Sheward. "So the higher the radio tower antenna, the greater the distance we can reach disabled vessels, giving boaters a more reliable way to call for assistance. We are now routinely communicating with Ensenada harbor pilots as well as an increasing [number] of anglers on the Cortez Bank, about 100 miles south-southwest of San Diego," she added.

Linked to the BoatUS dispatch center in Newport Beach via a high-speed communications line, the San Miguel tower is the newest component in a land-based VHF communications system that includes a series of elevated radio towers along the Pacific coast covering major boating ports stretching from Seattle now to Ensenada. It is the only VHF communications system of its kind used by an on-the-water towing company in the United States.


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