VHF radio

VHF radio that every ship must carry is a fundamental element of maritime safety. The VHF radio equipment we have installed on our boat must be used under a regulated standard. In this post we will summarize how to use our VHF radio equipment correctly.

Let’s start by giving an example of how to make a communication, then we’ll make comments that add something to the example given. Using a channel that is free – if it is busy you have to wait for it to end – the speaker of the VHF station that calls will start the communication in this way:


(Coastal) SEA GIPSY, SEA GIPSY, SEA GIPSY. HERE HAVANA MORRO. PASS TO CHANNEL (and tell us the number of the channel available)

(Boat) Already on the channel you have been told: HAVANA MORRO, HERE THE GIPSY, I would likeā€¦ etc. (ask for conference call, weather information or the required informationā€¦ etc.)

If we do not get an answer on the first call, we can repeat the call up to 3 times with a time interval of two minutes between calls. In the same way it is necessary to proceed when we call to another ship or to the navy, in such a way that the navy or the ship to which we call when answering must indicate us the channel by which it has to follow the conversation;
Since, to make calls is used channel 16 but only used to initiate the call, except in cases of request for help or when ordered by the coast.

If you have to make telephone conferences, normally the coast station requests data from the calling station, such as its billing number, charge phone and the data necessary to meet the request for service. If you are in Spain it is advisable before you start using a mobile station to deal with the CT.N.E. office to obtain a billing number. They are very friendly people who attend to you quickly.

When you do not want to saturate channel 16, marinas and nautical use channel 9 which is assigned to communications from land to ship or vice versa. However, it is always heard on channel 16 as well; remember that this channel 9 should not be used for ship-to-shore calls.

Vessels must pay attention to channel 16 and if you have double reception you can listen to one of the channels assigned to “ship to ship” communications and not those assigned to “ship to land”. Other services such as practical, meteorology or similar also use predetermined channels.

VHF equipment should be used primarily to talk to the coast and other ships. Boat waves are transmitted in a straight line so their range is limited, we will improve coverage with a high antenna. However sometimes there are range problems, this is due to weather conditions, geophysical reasons or other mysteries of nature.

As for when a call should be made, the first three minutes of each hour should not be made calls, except if it is an emergency or distress situation, also the three minutes following the half hour are respected as minutes of silence to give preference to calls for help.

Radiotelephone Procedures and Discipline

The use of VHF radio stations should be used with caution so as not to interrupt possible emergency calls. The channels should be occupied for as short a time as possible, avoiding any superfluous conversation, of course, it is forbidden to give false data or not identify oneself. Caller identification is always mandatory at sea.

When a vessel calls another vessel, the called vessel will indicate at the time which channel the communication is to be continued. The address on a maritime radio communication is taken by the station to which it is called.

When a ship calls the coast station, it is the coast station who, when answering, will indicate the channel on which the call is to be continued, will say whether it should be kept listening on that channel (standby) and the shift number corresponding to the caller. (For example: “SEA GIPSY, SEA GIPSY, SEA GIPSY, Channel 01, stand by turn 2”). In the case of a request for help, it is the person who directs the communication that is the only exception to this principle: calls for help.

The messages that you listen to on the radio must remain secret and cannot be divulged or used for any purpose by the person who listened to them. Calls on channel 16 should not exceed one minute.

Calls for distress, emergency and safety have priority in that order.

In the event that channel 16 is occupied, in the event of a serious emergency requiring immediate assistance, the communication can be interrupted by saying the word SILENS, at the beginning of the call and when it ends it closes with the words SILENS FINI.

The distress call must be initiated with the word “MAYDAY”, that

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