Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Introduction to Marine Radios

VHF (Very High Frequency) marine radios are a really good back-up communication device. In many places we paddle, cell coverage is spotty at best. Radios can be used to call for help in case of emergency or can be used for general communication among the group, the guide boat, or even with other boaters in the area. 

Keep mind that using a radio is not like using a phone. Everyone on same channel can hear your transmission. Therefore, always speak clearly and concisely. Be sure to pause and allow time for others to answer. Remember, they have to first hear you and then key their radio to speak. Never use your radio on land they are meant to be used on the water only. Like other radios, range is line-of-sight, and rather limited compared to a phone. A handheld VHF will have a range of about 2 to 4 miles depending on the geographic configuration.

Here are the channels used in this area:

9 Boater Calling. Commercial and Non-Commercial.

14 Vessel Traffic - You will often hear commercial vehicles like ferries on this channel.

16 This is the most important channel. Use channel 16 for Distress, Safety and Calling. You may use this channel for hailing another craft i.e., asking that vessel to switch to a particular channel for general communication. The U.S. Coast Guard monitors channel 16 for emergency calls. Ships required to carry radio, USCG, and most coast stations maintain a listening watch on this channel. 

68697172, & 78 General Comms - 68 and 72 are for recreational use.

Go here for a complete list of channels.

A cell phone has limited use out on the water compared to a radio. A VHF radio is rugged, waterproof, floats, is easy to hear, allows you to be heard by anyone on the same channel, and can give you real-time weather updates and forecasts. Compared to a modern smartphone, the VHF radio has tremendous battery life, and at less than $150 for many models, is a great low-cost piece of gear. It may just save someone's life.

For more information on VHF radios, including marine radio etiquette, check out this article.

Standard Horizon HX300 Compact Floating VHF Marine Radio

No comments:

Post a Comment