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Four VHF Sins

Herewith, the most effective ways to lose respect on the radio.
Boating Safety

"Calling any vessel ... calling any vessel on Channel 16 for a radio check. Can anyone out there hear me?”

“Hey, Charlie, this is Harry; is that you?”

“Sure is, Harry.” Blah, blah, blah.

Then both parties proceed to blah, blah, blah at length about how the blah, blah, blah was that day.

These two gabbing boat buddies have committed several sins in their radio communications. Maybe we’ve committed one or two trespasses ourselves. So we’re carving them on a tablet now. Boat forth and sin no more.

Sin the First: Making a “general” radio call

“Calling any vessel” on your radio is not only incorrect procedure, but it can also get you a citation and possible fine from the FCC. You must always call a specific vessel or shore station. Whatever you do, never call the Coast Guard for a radio check. The Coast Guard is in the business of saving lives and property, not providing a service to check your radio.

Tip: To Test your radio on the air, monitor one of the ship-to-ship channels and listen for radio traffic. After two parties conclude a conversation, call one of them by name and request a radio check. You’ll see that most captains will gladly reply out of courtesy.

Sin the Second: Not identifying yourself

FCC regulations require that each party identify himself by either radio call sign or boat name at the beginning and at the end of a radio communication. That said, a pleasure craft is required to have a radio station license and call sign only if the boat is 65 feet or more, is engaged in transporting six or more paying passengers, has a single sideband radio aboard or visits a foreign port including Canada, Mexico or the Bahamas.

Tip: If you don’t fit the above criteria, ID yourself by using your boat name.

Sin the Third: Misuse of VHF Channel 16

Channel 16 is reserved primarily for emergency and boating safety communications. Using Channel 16 as a “calling channel” or channel to hold conversations is strictly prohibited. every channel has a purpose. Just because your radio might have more than 50 channels, it doesn’t mean you are allowed to use them all.

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