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Old 12-29-2008, 10:22 PM
   
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Question Bearing Sea Crab Fishing HF Frequencies

Does anyone on this forum know of any HF frequencies for monitoring the crab fishing fleet out
of Bearing Straits of Alaska? I already have the USCG HF 3 to 30MHz frequencies programmed
into my Icom PCR1000. Thanks in advance to anyone that can assist me. - WPE1HWY
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Old 12-30-2008, 1:29 AM
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This question comes up from time to time, and barring a reply from some future RR-member who lives in AK and fishes, I doubt we will know for sure. But the odds seem to be against hearing crab boats such as were featured in "Deadliest Catch" on HF for a few reasons.

It appears that almost all crab boats are individual competitors, and would never call each other except in an emergency, and primarily on VHF when that happens. All of the communications featured on the tv series used VHF for boat-to-boat, and SAT phones when calling home plate or the USCG.

Propagation to the East Coast - Unlikely. it would take monitoring from the Vancouver to Northern CA area to have much chance at the low frequencies (2-4 megs) likely used by vessels in those waters. There is almost no chance of the East coast of the US catching anything from a vessel in AK waters on any frequency, and even the 8MW shore transmitters are a rare catch from that distance. When the sunspot cycle improves, things improve a little for us, but not much on the low-bands.

When the Alaska Ranger (a fish processing vessel) sank, she used 2182 KHz to raise the USCG in Kodiak. A nearby fishing vessel chimed-in on 2182 so they obviously carry HF equipment, but it certainly is not observed by those that monitor maritime traffic, at least here in the RR forums.

R/
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Old 12-30-2008, 3:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OceanaRadio View Post
This question comes up from time to time, and barring a reply from some future RR-member who lives in AK and fishes, I doubt we will know for sure. But the odds seem to be against hearing crab boats such as were featured in "Deadliest Catch" on HF for a few reasons.

It appears that almost all crab boats are individual competitors, and would never call each other except in an emergency, and primarily on VHF when that happens. All of the communications featured on the tv series used VHF for boat-to-boat, and SAT phones when calling home plate or the USCG.

Jack
Anyone who watched 'Deadliest Catch,' or who lives along the east or west coast of the USA & tunes around during fishing season would know that the captains/watch-standers aboard the individually owned & operated fishing or crabbing boats do a lot of BS'ing on the radio.


Recording 'Deadliest Catch' on a Tivo & pausing it during some scenes inside the bridge showed HF radios turned on. I may or may not have been able to see the freqs, but I don't recall now. One might have been 5167.5kHz, the standard Alaska emergency channel.

HF/SSB audio was also clearly heard being received on the bridge in numerous episodes, albeit it was USCG weather warnings that stood out the best as being on HF. They'd have to be careful about using HF/SSB (as well as some of their VHF comms) if Deadliest Catch was filming aboard, because so much of the transmissions would be illegal, freq and/or content-wise so after hearing some of this sort of stuff on HF in the past, it's no surprise that you don't hear all the radio BS'ing on the TV show.


I've never targeted the Bering Sea fleets, but used to listen in on the Atlantic coast area fleets a lot many years ago when I lived in Michigan. It was before they had stuff like Inmarsat & obviously Inmarsat is used these days for some operational communications, but casual comms & long-winded BS'ing certainly would take place over discrete (illegal) HF/SSB freqs as well as discrete (legal & illegal) VHF frequencies.

They'll tend to stand out, because they'll be speaking English with a rather unique vernacular, including a lot of profanity, & will just ID with first names. Seems like they must pass around a list of about 5 or 10 HF freqs to use while meeting up at a bar in port before the start of each season. I don't think they know too much about propagation, they just tend to strike out or luck out, sometimes using groundwave or NVIS probably without knowing it.

Since we're talking about the big boats & a fairly big sea, they're out of VHF range fairly quickly. When they *are* in VHF range, many of them (perhaps for inter-company ship/ship comms) heard within the past 2 years here on the W Coast of the USA operate illegally all over the 138-174MHz spectrum, some with speech inversion & time domain scramblers. From my car 2200' ASL about 5 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean near Half Moon Bay California one day during the peak of some fishing season, I made a list of about 15 VHF freqs in use by these foul-mouthed pea-brains. Again, they all really stood out easily amongst the legit traffic in the 138-174MHz FM spectrum due to their salty vernacular, just like most truckers end up sharing an 'accent' when on the CB. Some seemed to be part of a multi-vessel company, but others were individually owned & used the illegal radios for BS'ing & to occasionally ask for or share tips on where the fish/crabs were.

Local FCC Field Office is ambivalent to the problem, other than maybe posting some warning signs at commercial fishing fleet ports about illegal radios/frequencies.

Funniest thing I used to hear were what I believe to be some of the Asian fishing fleet guys. Here's an old logging as an example:

180813Z NOV 7709USB
Guy singing complete Bob Seger song. Guy sounded slightly retarded, but knew complete lyrics to several songs. Guy started talking to someone else in Cantonese. Probably Chinese fishermen cooped up on ships (with a few cassettes of American music).

***********

They're out there on HF/SSB, you just have to tune around for them, and hope propagation is in your favor (try picking up other, known HF/SSB transmissions emanating from the area of interest, such as USCG, ham stuff or civil aviation, to check propagation).

You could also do some intel gathering & try to find any Internet mailing lists, web pages, etc. that these guys might 'congregate' at & do their 'frequency planning' via, plus of course you'd want to know when their fishing seasons run.

Finally, it seems like at some point in each season, 'Deadliest Catch' offers a live web-chat with some of the captains. You could try to ask them about HF there.


Tim
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Old 01-14-2009, 5:33 PM
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I'm in the Seattle area where a few of the boats are home-based. I've asked a few local AK fisherman and they admit they don't use HF that much unless necessary (i.e. when talking to USCG.)

For some it's a bit like calling 911 and some don't even talk about *that* radio - as it's not something they like to think about.

The biggest problem is most boats don't have very much output power nor "optimal" antenna systems. The average boat doesn't have a big YAGI to point in some direction - most are just using some random wire or dipole (V) antenna.

FYI, if they do chat, it's over VHF Marine - and usually late at night...

That being said, I've attempted to monitor them as well and I've had no luck. I've been lucky to catch several USCG cutters talking to Alaskan boats, but they are extremely weak - even at my QTH.

Now I don't have an optimal antenna set up either, but I do monitor the HF Marine channels quite a bit (and the emergency channels.)

Bottom line is it simply comes to down to patience and a bit of luck.

PS. Now a funny point is that I catch Japanese fisherman all the time on HF. Usually in the 8mhz range - sometimes in the 3mhz at night.

Last edited by nickcarr; 01-14-2009 at 5:36 PM..
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Old 02-01-2009, 12:05 AM
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2670usb and the old 4meg boat to boat freqs.in the past we did catch canada fishermen on 45.00fm.but that was in 2001,my guess would be satphones as said in another post.
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Old 02-07-2009, 4:22 AM
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Years gone by, you used to catch them from time to time on 4125 Upper.
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Old 04-21-2013, 9:35 PM
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I know this thread is really old, but I just came across this list from AirCom-Poste for frequencies for fishermen on the Bering Sea (AirCom-Poste: Les fréquences radio des pécheurs en Mer de Béring) Note that the post is in french.


3013.0 - USB
3023.0
3030.0
3261.0
3306.5
3470.0
3586.0
4077.0
4127.0
4141.5
4522.0
4622.0
5222.0
5226.0
5461.0
5516.0
5532.5
5700.0
6240.0
6525.0
6568.0
6631.0
6676.5
6731.0
6980.0
7736.0
8260.0
8345.0
8356.5
8707.0
8917.0
10234.5
10474.0
11111.0
11204.0
11234.5
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Old 04-22-2013, 9:27 AM
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Any online searching will work better if you look for Bering Sea or Bering Straits (no A).
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Old 05-08-2013, 2:53 AM
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On the latest episode of D/C tonight, they showed them using HF SSB on 3542khz.
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Old 05-08-2013, 1:49 PM
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I have have heard several running illegally in the lower portion of the 80 meter ham band right around 35.14
so try up and down from there.
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Old 05-09-2013, 2:13 AM
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Yep as nick mentioned 3542 was used between the Seabrooke and FV Saga.
Also another radio shot that showed 21650 kHz SSB Telephony

From the 2010 season it showed them using 2088.4 kHz multiple times.
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Last edited by brandon; 05-09-2013 at 2:16 AM..
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Old 08-04-2013, 9:04 AM
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Keep in mind with these screen shots that this is a TV show and there is tons of editing. It seems that they use the SATPhone and VHF the most. VHF when they are within range and the SATPhone when they are at a distance. Unless the camera shot shows both the person on the radio and the radio that he is using at the exact same time, you can't really be sure. I watch them zoom in on a depth finder during a radio conversation before. I have also heard that old analog cell phones are used when possible. The old analog systems are still in place in many areas closer to shore and have greater range than the digital ones.
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Old 08-18-2013, 3:49 AM
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Here are the licensed callsigns for the boats in the 2013 season of Deadliest Catch:

WDF5599 Cape Caution
WAP5710 Kiska Sea
WDE5199 Northwestern
WBY7391/WQZ6520 Saga
WDC4069 Seabrooke
WCX2255 Time Bandit (expired)
WDC6082 Wizard
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Old 09-09-2013, 8:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The_B_Chief View Post
Keep in mind with these screen shots that this is a TV show and there is tons of editing. It seems that they use the SATPhone and VHF the most. VHF when they are within range and the SATPhone when they are at a distance. Unless the camera shot shows both the person on the radio and the radio that he is using at the exact same time, you can't really be sure. I watch them zoom in on a depth finder during a radio conversation before. I have also heard that old analog cell phones are used when possible. The old analog systems are still in place in many areas closer to shore and have greater range than the digital ones.
I think you're right.

The screen shot above on the right is from an episode I remember and the two boats were not very far apart. Certainly within VHF range.
I bet the cameraman just looked at the most flashy looking radios and filmed them not knowing or not caring where the audio was really coming from.

Other radio interactions that I remember between the celebrity skippers have also been in close range and if it isn't, they use the sat phone as you said.
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