Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Licensing a VHF Radio: "be patient!"

I am a barbie girl in the barbie world
Life in plastic, it's fantastic
You can brush my hair, undress me everywhere
Imagination, life is your creation
(Lyrics Aqua - song: Barbie World, 1997)

In the weekend edition of "De Volkskrant" last week, there was an item about walky talkies (= handheld VHF Radios - Portofoons). License free VHF Handhelds are getting more and more popular for skiers on the piste, for communication between motorcylists and even for parents to keep in contact with their kids in amusement parks and other crowded places. The Barbie (Mattel-registered trademark) stupidity has also come into the VHF-world...

A handheld VHF Radio can be an useful kit for seakayaking. Though you will need a more professional and powerful one. A license free VHF Radio won't do, alas. A mobile phone in a waterproof package is another very helpful means of communication on the water, but is not a complete alternative. Radio and phone both have their own limitations and their own advantages. There has been said a lot about this, just have a look at the discussions on the UKseakayakguidebookforum or the German Spierentonne-forum.
I personally find every seakayaker should make up his own mind and decide what to do. For getting weather reports and "only using in the case of an emergency" an "illegal" (=non licensed) VHF Radio might do. However, also in this case I would strongly advise to do a relevant course to get the protocols right. While the coastguard fully supports people having VHF-radios, even without license, it can only be good if we go about having and using them properly (and legally?).
For myself I decided to get the appropriate license(s) anyway. I found, as NKB seakayak coach, I should be able to use a VHF Radio - legally. I bought a learning-book, did one of the free Internet courses and subscribed for the examination in December last year. Since then I am wondering about the little inconveniences that come along with Dutch administration.
The test isn't difficult. But the administration procedures are a world in itself. Not a Barbie world, but more like a Kafka world. For example: about a month after subscribing you can do the test. You have to subscribe via the "ANWB". When you have done the test well, the "c.v. Vaarbewijs en Marifoonexamens" sends you, 4 weeks later, an attestation. You have to sent this attestation to the "Agentschap Telecom". The "Agentschap Telecom" sends you a certificate (in a few weeks, months?? I'll see). When you have received this certificate, you have to sent a copy of it to (again) the "Agentschap Telecom" to get an Operators license. When you have received the Operators license you can..... Why don't they do this "all in one"? You do a test to get a license! I forgot to tell: for every step you have to pay a contribution, of course.

Conclusion: It takes a lot of time, and also a lot of money, before you can legally use a VHF radio in the Netherlands. I wonder if I succeed to have a VHF Radio legally licensed and registered before I lead the seakayakcourse in Germany (Spiekeroog). I do also get more understanding for people that don't take all the trouble...

PS: At one point Dutch administration has made life simpler last year. Since 22-7-2005 it is allowed to use a solo handheld VHF Radio on small boats. Before that date, the use of a handheld was only allowed in combination with a non-portable VHF Radio installation mounted in your boat. Seakayakers had to ask separate for exemption...

Voor de Nederlandse zeekajakkers: als ik de hele procedure heb afgerond, geef ik een volledig overzicht van tijd en kosten...

1 comment:

lieke 9 years said...

Lieke likes the barbies!