Free Signal Mirrors

Idea Exchange: During my VE training the FSO-VE gave me the suggestion to carry on VSCs the computer CDs from various companies that I receive in the mail and do not want. These can be given to boaters as an additional VDS device. The flip side makes a good mirror and the hole in the center acts as an aiming device and they are free.

Submitted by: Hal Leahy, FSO-CS/FSO-IS VE IT from 070-05-01

Tips Using The Virtual VSC

Idea Exchange: I have found that if you print out the virtual VSC pages on the main page of, it makes a great quick reference guide for doing a VSC. It is also great to put up for boaters to see so they will be ready for their safety check. It would be fantastic to get this in pamphlet form.

I am seeing a very high number of boaters who have the newer radios with the red 'help' button on them. We need to STRESS to the boater that the button is of no use unless they get the MMSI number entered into the radio. The MMSI number is free and can be obtained at: They can also register on-line to receive their number. I print out the forms to give to all boaters who have the new radios. Once the MMSI is entered, there will be a record of boat name, size, contact info, etc to be used in finding the vessel. If the radio is NOT hooked to a GPS receiver, the float plan will be of major help in trying to locate the boat. When it IS hooked up to the GPS, it can give other boaters in the area a location to search.

Critical points to stress:

  • The USCG is not yet monitoring channel 70 for these distress signals in many areas.
  • Without the MMSI number, the button will not work.
  • With the MMSI number entered, but no GPS connected, we know WHO is in distress but not WHERE (The float plan will help narrow it down).
  • With the MMSI entered AND GPS connected, we know who AND where (if monitoring).
  • Once the button is pressed, the radio automatically resends the mayday until it looses power or is turned off.

Float plan forms can be downloaded from the following site:

Submitted by: Bill Martin, VFC, FSO-RBSVP, FSO-VE from 11N/08/06

Ask A Boater To Join

Idea Exchange: Doing VSCs gives you the opportunity to talk one on one to many boaters. For those that pass and are awarded a decal why don't you say" Sir/Ms, you run a very safe vessel why don't you join the Auxiliary and help us set a fine example for others?" Most people will not say no!

Submitted by: Luis Ojeda, DVC-VT from 03/01/07

Use The Q&A For Training Workshops

Idea Exchange: The Q/A section of this website has great value as a training guide. The VE manual does not cover all of the details so, after many winter months, some VEs needed to brush up on the VSC Program. So our flotilla held a VSC TUNE UP (workshop) to refocus our attention back on the VSC program. Rather than reviewing the book we used all of the Q/A from this website. The examiners participation and responses were great. I would highly recommend to all VE Staff to use this Q/A section as a resource for a spirited discussion of the VSC requirements.

Submitted by: Paul J Hill, FSO/VE from 14-09-09C

Get Info And Tips Out Before A VE Blitz

Idea Exchange: One of the primary (if not THE primary reasons) for a VE sticker to be denied or delayed is that flares are out of date. We could easily increase the pass rate on VE inspections (and avoid disappointment and discouragement on the part of boat owners) by ALWAYS including a statement on all VE schedule notices to "CHECK THE DATE BEFORE IT"S TOO LATE" and explain to boaters on all announcements, web sites, dealer visit posters...whatever...for boat owners to be SURE to check their flares BEFORE the VE date to avoid non-compliance, delay and disappointment. There is NO reason for a VE to find out-of-date flares if the owner has been reminded to check and replace them BEFORE the VE date. This will make our program much more successful.

Submitted by: Steven Hess, member from Flotilla 4-2 (09Eastern)