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BlueWaterMD 10-31-2008 11:23 PM

VHF Etiquette
The vast majority of my boating until now has been either on powerboats or small sailing dinghies. I recently realized, that I have never had the need to use my VHF to hail a bridge or the coast guard....

What do you do if your boat doesn't have a name? All the procedures say to state the vessel's name, but my boat doen't have one (yet). Do I just read my off my numbers? Also what if a boat has a name, but isn't officially documented?

sailingdog 10-31-2008 11:34 PM


Use the existing vessel name if it is painted or marked on the hull...otherwise, use the vessel's new name and get it put on the hull ASAP.

BlueWaterMD 11-01-2008 12:13 AM

The boat currently doesn't have any name. I plan on naming it, but have some hull work to do once I get the boat back home. It seems like a waste of time and money to put on a name just to move the boat, then have to take it off. That being said, getting the boat back home involves 5 locks and a number of bridges, and I plan on having to use the VHF often.

camaraderie 11-01-2008 12:27 AM

Just say..."bascule bridge this is northbound sailboat approaching requesting an opening" or similar. IF asked for a name, give the name you plan to use. A boat does not have to be named to go through a bridge!

capttb 11-01-2008 12:37 AM

On a small un-named vessel I'll generally use something that seems to fit & is descriptive, "Runabout Whaler" is one I've used or S/V Compac in your case, just for ease in communicating.
Also, nothing says you have to be documented to have a name, tho' I've never felt the need to name a boat that wasn't big enough to document.

BlueWaterMD 11-01-2008 12:41 AM

Thanks, that helps a lot.

erps 11-01-2008 01:31 AM

A mayday call.

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artbyjody 11-01-2008 03:04 AM

If you do not have a name - but the boat has sail numbers - use the sail numbers. Otherwise - use "Unmarked Sailing Vessel - [make, length, color (if non white)]"...(preferred in your case).

The other option is just use "S/V John (or Jane) Doe"..synonymic with "no name"...

the whole purpose of using a name or something to identify a vessel is so that one can be hailed or acknowledged by either party.

sailaway21 11-01-2008 11:40 AM

When encountering naval vessels you may simply refer to yourself as "target at..give your bearing and range here". They'll understand. (g)

Seriously, it is a good idea to learn VHF protocol and the regulations. There are many threads on it here. It's a great tool and safety aid, properly used.

sailingdog 11-01-2008 11:59 AM


You forgot about the part where you tell them you're carrying 2000 lbs. of ANFO. :)

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