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VHF Radio Use

rasburyrasbury Member Posts: 8,283 ✭✭✭✭✭
I thought I'd start this discussion as I realize there are many on this site either not experienced boater or if some experience, not with larger boats. Neither of my previous boats had VHF so I am trying to do some research on proper use. I read that 16 and nine are contact channels, 16 is monitored by the Coast Guard. What are some tips from experienced operators? How are you supposed to introduce yourself? I am not a "captain" and my boat has no name. Also, planning on going to a marina this weekend=do I hail the marina before I enter it? My boating for the most part has been lakes and rivers- not really had to deal with a large city marina....
Post edited by mvn on
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    jhofmannjhofmann Member Posts: 430 ✭✭✭
    Channel 16 is used to contact the Coast Guard and for emergency's, not for hailing. To hail (call) another radio use channel 9. Some marinas monitor a certain channel. If you are the operator (driver) of the vessel, then you are the "captain".
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    MarkBMarkB Member Posts: 3,969 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I assume you need an operaror/station license to use the radio. You will need to take a course to get that, and in that course you will learn the basics of what you need to know.
    .
    The proper way to call is to call out the boat/station name of whom you want to speak to, three times. Then you state your boat name three times. For example "Sarasota Marina, Sarasota Marina, Sarasota Marina this is North Star, North Star, North Star, over." Then you wait for their response.

    Boat Name: King Kong

    "Boat + Water = Fun"

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    LaReaLaRea Member, Moderator Posts: 7,625 mod
    edited February 2015
    Good radio etiquette is important, but not difficult to learn.  

    "Captain" is an honorific used to address any radio operator you don't know.  If you haven't named your boat, you can refer to yourself as "20-foot power boat entering Washington Channel" or some other description that makes sense.

    The basic routine is to hail on channel 16, then move to a working channel (68, 69, 72) for the conversation.  
    Here's a typical recreational call --  La Rea is calling Washington Marina to request a slip:

    On ch. 16:
    La Rea says: 
    "Washington Marina, Washington Marina, Washington Marina this is La Rea, La Rea, La Rea on channel one-six, over."

    Washington Marina says:
    "La Rea, this is Washington Marina, switch and answer on channel six-eight, over."

    La Rea says: 
    "Washington Marina, this is La Rea, switching six-eight, out."

    Then both operators switch to ch. 68:
    La Rea says: 
    "Washington Marina, Washington Marina, this is La Rea on channel 68, over."

    Washington Marina says:
    "La Rea, this is Washington Marina, over."

    La Rea says:
    "Hello sir, I am a 40-foot power boat looking for a transient slip for two nights ... (normal conversation) ..."

    At the end, La Rea says:  
    "OK, thank you sir. This is La Rea, out."

    <edited -- see comments from MarkB later in this thread>
    Post edited by LaRea on
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    BritinusaBritinusa Member Posts: 306 ✭✭
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    LaReaLaRea Member, Moderator Posts: 7,625 mod
    edited February 2015
    Might also be wise to look up the format of a Mayday call, and practice it a couple times (to yourself, not on the radio).  
    Post edited by LaRea on
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    rasburyrasbury Member Posts: 8,283 ✭✭✭✭✭
    great guys, thanks and gives me a little more confidence and to the one comment about a license, laws were changed some time ago for VHF recreational use and there is a lot of concern among the commercial boaters and the use of the VHF so it for sure is our responsibility to use it correctly......
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    rmrstlmormrstlmo Member Posts: 225 ✭✭✭
    Thanks for all the info - it is very timely for me.  I've had my boat for two seasons but microphone was missing when I bought the boat.  Just found a used microphone on eBay for $10.  Was never able to find a new replacement.  I'm on a inland lake with cell phone reception in most places so it hasn't been a huge deal.

    Ray

    2006 390

    Previous 2000 340

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    MarkBMarkB Member Posts: 3,969 ✭✭✭✭✭
    LaRae, you should continue to use names throughout conversation, in each switch of speaker ("Washington Marina, this is LaRae" and rest of conversation, or vice-versa). The reason is, there maybe interference from other conversations, and if you don't call by name and confirm who is calling, you can never be sure we is really speaking. Hailing should be done by announcing station being called 3 times, and your name 3 times, ALWAYS.  After that, once conversation has started, you can call and say your name only once. The rest of your example looks good.

    rasbury, I checked whether in FL you need a license. As you state, looks like rec users don't. But I came across this site, which might have some useful info on radio use:

    http://www.boatsafe.com/nauticalknowhow/radio.htm

    Boat Name: King Kong

    "Boat + Water = Fun"

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    LaReaLaRea Member, Moderator Posts: 7,625 mod
    edited February 2015
    MarkB is right.  The protocol is:
    * Repeat names three times when hailing.
    * Start every transmission by "<listener>, this is <sender>".
    * Finish every transmission with either "over" or "out" (never both).  

    For example, part of my conversation with the marina on ch. 68 might be:  "Washington Marina, this is La Rea, I copy slip A-seven, over."

    This format is critically important in an emergency where lots of people are using the channel and it's important to know who said what.  

    For routine comms, on an uncrowded channel, on a low-traffic body of water, it's a common practice to abbreviate some messages.  (At least, it's common here on the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay.)  For example, you might say names fewer than three times when hailing, or you might not identify yourself for every single transmission.  
    Post edited by LaRea on
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    golfdoggolfdog Member Posts: 151 ✭✭✭
    A quick note, if you your just outside of the marina your trying to contact or close to the boat your trying to contact switch your radio to low power (if equipped). This will free up the air waves farther out.
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    My_Dinghys_DinghyMy_Dinghys_Dinghy Member Posts: 107 ✭✭
    I have the coast guard's emergency procedure listed right next to the handset so even if something happens to me while onboard, ANYONE can hail the Mayday call.
    Doing a 25 year old Project Boat after a 35 year hiatus from boat ownership.
    Catch us on Kelley's Island at the Seaway or Portside Marina or Middle Bass at the State Park Marina MOST SUNDAYS and weekends in July! Call My Dinghy on Channel 16.
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    jhofmannjhofmann Member Posts: 430 ✭✭✭
    Remember "over" means your done speaking and awaiting a response, "out" means your done speaking and not waiting for a response. "over and out" is for Hollywood!
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    rasburyrasbury Member Posts: 8,283 ✭✭✭✭✭
    good call dinghy...I'll make up something that will weather and put right there for my wife.....great idea.
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    StodgeStodge Member Posts: 2,738 ✭✭✭✭
    MarkB said:
    I assume you need an operaror/station license to use the radio. You will need to take a course to get that, and in that course you will learn the basics of what you need to know.
    .
    The proper way to call is to call out the boat/station name of whom you want to speak to, three times. Then you state your boat name three times. For example "Sarasota Marina, Sarasota Marina, Sarasota Marina this is North Star, North Star, North Star, over." Then you wait for their response.
    There is no license required to operate Marine VHF in the US.

    2002 FV 342 on Lake St. Clair - Past Commodore SHC - Vessel Examiner USCGAUX

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    My_Dinghys_DinghyMy_Dinghys_Dinghy Member Posts: 107 ✭✭
    rasbury said:
    good call dinghy...I'll make up something that will weather and put right there for my wife.....great idea.
    Coast Guard has them and you should be able to pick them up from your local station. If there is a flotilla around, they would have them as well. They're free (meaning your tax dollars paid for them)
    Doing a 25 year old Project Boat after a 35 year hiatus from boat ownership.
    Catch us on Kelley's Island at the Seaway or Portside Marina or Middle Bass at the State Park Marina MOST SUNDAYS and weekends in July! Call My Dinghy on Channel 16.
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    luckydogluckydog Member Posts: 316 ✭✭✭
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    rasburyrasbury Member Posts: 8,283 ✭✭✭✭✭
    cool- I may print and frame/install by the radio !
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    LaReaLaRea Member, Moderator Posts: 7,625 mod
    If any of you get a Coast Guard Vessel Safety Check (free - I get one every spring), ask the inspector for a Mayday sticker.  
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    StodgeStodge Member Posts: 2,738 ✭✭✭✭
    Also check the safety information stand in your marina and marine stores.  I try to keep those stickers in those when I stock them up.  Good idea to keep some on hand to hand out when I do VSCs.  I normally just have the trash (MARPOL) and oil placards.  

    2002 FV 342 on Lake St. Clair - Past Commodore SHC - Vessel Examiner USCGAUX

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    Capt RonCapt Ron Member Posts: 217 ✭✭✭
    You can always tell who has a license and who doesn't by monitoring channel 16. In Canada a license is required and spot checks are made so carry your license. Visitors from the States don't need a license.
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    rasburyrasbury Member Posts: 8,283 ✭✭✭✭✭
    was on the water this weekend and hear someone on 16 for a radio check....
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    LaReaLaRea Member, Moderator Posts: 7,625 mod
    Around here, radio checks on 16 are common.  I tried radio checks on 9 for years, and never once got a reply, so eventually I gave up.   

    Of course, it's not a high-traffic area.  I can turn on my radio and sometimes go hours without hearing a call.  Occasionally, if it's a super-busy day like July 4th, the Coast Guard will get testy and chastise someone on 16.  It's rare. 

    BTW Ras, don't think we overlooked that you went boating this weekend.  Jealous!
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    rasburyrasbury Member Posts: 8,283 ✭✭✭✭✭
    was not going to do this to you guys....did not go to the coast as the marina was full for Daytona 500 folks I guess so stayed local....
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    luckydogluckydog Member Posts: 316 ✭✭✭
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    My_Dinghys_DinghyMy_Dinghys_Dinghy Member Posts: 107 ✭✭
    rasbury said:
    was not going to do this to you guys....did not go to the coast as the marina was full for Daytona 500 folks I guess so stayed local....
    OK, I am trying to upload pictures from the central basin in Lake Erie and the ice is about 3 feet thick and you post this? I HOPE IT RAINED!!! LOL Seriously you look lonely.
    Doing a 25 year old Project Boat after a 35 year hiatus from boat ownership.
    Catch us on Kelley's Island at the Seaway or Portside Marina or Middle Bass at the State Park Marina MOST SUNDAYS and weekends in July! Call My Dinghy on Channel 16.
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    MarkBMarkB Member Posts: 3,969 ✭✭✭✭✭
    You can contact coast guard for radio check on 16, but they will send you to another channel to do the check.

    Boat Name: King Kong

    "Boat + Water = Fun"

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    Dream_InnDream_Inn Member, Moderator Posts: 7,594 mod
    Ras, you do look a little lonely there.  I didn't know you had a colored hull.  Looks nice!

    Dream 'Inn III -- 2008 400 Express

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    StodgeStodge Member Posts: 2,738 ✭✭✭✭
    MarkB said:
    You can contact coast guard for radio check on 16, but they will send you to another channel to do the check.
    They get a little cranky when you do that around here.  I usually recommend folks ask for radio checks on the non-commercial use channels (68,69,71,72).

    2002 FV 342 on Lake St. Clair - Past Commodore SHC - Vessel Examiner USCGAUX

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    rasburyrasbury Member Posts: 8,283 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I like the colored hull....more to keep up with. I would have really liked the dark blue or black but I'm sure that would be a real pain to keep up with....I have had the boat for a year now and still don't have all of it buffed out- the blend of fun time and work on it time, especially with the "challenges" I have had, cleaning for sure took the back burner but getting back to it now that it stays lighter longer...with 98 hours on it when I bought it, it's in prety good shape just needs some TLC!
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    rasburyrasbury Member Posts: 8,283 ✭✭✭✭✭
    and those are new slips the City of Sanford put in- pretty good size marina there but I swear I have never seen a boat come or leave and most of the boats look like junk...probably 75 boats in slips, some of them pretty large.
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