From the Boathouse: Heed Coast Guard's advice on frequency


The weather is looking good for this weekend with afternoon sunshine breaking through the clouds. We will have patchy fog in the mornings that should burn off before noontime. The daytime air temperature will remain mild with the highs reaching only the low 70s, and nighttime temperatures dipping to the low 50s creating a 20-degree temperature swing.

The seas will increase a foot by the weekend to three feet from the west-northwest with lazy one-foot swells from the south that should not create a washing machine for those cruising in the ocean. On Friday, the winds might reach 10 knots in the afternoon, blowing from the northwesterly direction. However, the winds will clock around to a southerly direction on Saturday and maybe into Sunday. The five- to 10-knot breeze will push only one- to two-foot wind waves throughout the weekend. Just remember that the water temperature is a chilly 57 degrees, so dress warmly and bring aboard extra jackets and blankets for your guests.

On another note for boaters cruising offshore, the U.S. Coast Guard released this week a special local notice to mariners concerning the single sideband's medium frequency distress channels. The Coast Guard is warning boaters that the international distress frequency of 2182 kHz and the DSC frequency of 2187.5 kHz should not be used in an emergency, as the calls may not be heard by their communication centers.

Boaters are being advised to use 4125, 6215, 8291 or 12290 kHz frequencies in lieu of 2182 kHz. Additionally, boaters should use 4207.5, 6312, 8414.5 or 12577 kHz in lieu of DSC 2187.5 kHz. The Coast Guard's website has a list of the medium and high frequencies for the distress and working channels when using a single sideband radio. You can go to and print out the list to keep aboard your boat.

News of the week is that the California Coastal Commission approved the proposed faux lighthouse for the Marina Park project. The commission was questioning the designed height of over 70 feet for this structure, which is over double the height limit of the 35 feet in that area. What is really in question is the additional cost to build the lighthouse taller in the first place.

I wrote in my column of July 20, 2012, "However, is a non-functioning lighthouse important to the project or to boaters in Newport Harbor? Nope, and the funds saved from not constructing the faux lighthouse could be used to make the exterior of the proposed building look more inviting and nautical."

However, what makes no sense to me is that the application stated that the extra height would be a navigational element for watercraft. What, are you kidding me? Someone needs to explain to me how this lighthouse would be a navigational element for boaters.

Boaters in the ocean would not use this structure as an aid, as it is not in view when on a course coming north to Newport Harbor's entrance from the south, cruising back from Santa Catalina Island to Newport, or on a southerly course heading for the jetty entrance from the northern Channel Islands. The only time that a sailor would only see this lighthouse is when cruising parallel along the beach and only a mile or two offshore, but then the Balboa and Newport piers are easily used as navigational aids. No one I know uses the tall Balboa Pavilion's cupola as a navigational aid, but many boaters do use the skyscrapers circling Newport Center or the stacks at the Huntington Beach power plant, but now most sailors simply use their GPS units.

Boaters cruising inside the harbor will not use the lighthouse nor be able to see it from a boat unless they are in the channel located along the Balboa Peninsula that is west of Bay Island on the south side of Lido Isle. The known landmarks in that area of the bay are the Newport Harbor Yacht Club, the Lido Isle Yacht Club and the American Legion post, so the lighthouse will be of little or no use to boaters.

I personally think that building an oversized fake lighthouse is simply a waste of the public's money, especially when the city has raised the harbor fees for docks and moorings.

Please boat smart and boat safe.

And don't forget: Tune in to the No. 1 boating radio talk show in the nation, Capt. Mike Whitehead's "Boathouse Radio Show," broadcasting live coast-to-coast on the CRN Digital Talk Radio syndicated network at noon Saturdays and replays throughout the weekend. See times at

Safe voyages!

MIKE WHITEHEAD is a boating columnist for the Daily Pilot. Send marine-related thoughts and story suggestions to or go to

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