SailNet Community banner

1 - 20 of 64 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
89 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
So I am new to sailing, I can work a VHF radio, but i would love to find a book or article on when and what to say when i do. Any advice?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,001 Posts
Your best bet it to take a radio operators course. A lot of Power Squadrons put on courses regularly.

I don't know where you live, but here in Canada you are technically required to have a radio operator's license in order to use a VHF radio, although many people don't.

You are right to enquire about proper etiquette. A lot of people treat the vhf as their personal chat line which can be really annoying to other users. Sports fishermen are the worst offenders! More importantly it is good to know procedures for emergency situations.

Sent from my SM-G981W using Tapatalk
 

·
Aspiring Boat Bum
Joined
·
376 Posts
Mostly common sense, common courtesy and a few guidelines.

1. Channel 16 is for calling and emergencies ONLY! Monitor 16, listen for a few minutes to make sure the channel is clear, no emergencies, wait for a quiet break and call who you're trying to reach.

2. Call using the boat name, repeating 2-3 times then say your boat name.

3. When you receive a reply from the other boat immediately name a working channel to switch to. 68 is common. Check FCC regulations and local preferences for which channel. You will be looking for a ship to ship channel unless you are calling a marina or other shoreside facility.

4. Bridge tenders, commercial traffice, etc use their own channels. Again check local usage to confirm but channel 13 is common.
 

·
Registered
Hunter 386
Joined
·
601 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
89 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
I guess I should have mentioned I am in the US on the Chesapeake bay...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,994 Posts
Leave your radio on and listen and you can learn what the protocols are.
When you make a call you should state your vessels name 2 or 3 times before stating the purpose of the call.
If it is something like a "radio check"

Wait for quiet... you don't want to "step on" another conversation. Use a CALLING channel such as 9

You can begin with.... Break Break....sailing vessel Shiva, sailing vessel Shiva, sailing vessel Shiva for radio check Port Jefferson,, for radio check Port Jefferson,

You might want to add.... switch and answer on channel 72 (or whatever is a working channel)

Turn to channel 72 and listen for "reports" on your signal strength... which is often reported as a fraction like 9 out of 10... or loud and clear... New Haven.

When conversing with another station... begin by stating the station's name 2 x... then speak your bit and end with Shiva over (you can add the station's name you are speaking with.

You can buy a plastic crib sheet for radio use to keep by your radio...
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
7,561 Posts
Never listen to the US Coast Guard as a good example of radio use. They speak so quickly it's gibberish... Especially for us foreigners who are not used to the American accent.

Speak slow. Don't let idiots push you off the radio. The radio is for us boaters. That's why it's there, for you and me 😊
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,424 Posts
Hey,

Go here:


Now, in real life you will hear all sorts of things on the channel 16 - little kids singing, adults yelling at each other, people threatening one another (you are going to fast you jerk, oh yeah, come over and say that again - I actually heard that on the radio), people asking for directions (again, I actually heard one boater ask how to get into Port Jefferson harbor), and everything in between.

For me personally, I use the VHF for two things:
1. Hailing a marina to get my slip assignment (conversation goes this like (Milford Landing, Milford Landing, Milford Landing, this is the sailing vessel Deep Blue C. I am requesting my slip assignment). After they respond I ask if they want me bow in or stern in, port or starboard tie, etc. I have about a 90% success rate with marina's. Sometimes I have to call them on the phone, other times I pull up close by and yell to dock boy)
2. During a race to either check in with race committee, or as race committee.

There are no bridges or locks that I have to deal with, so no need to use ch 13.

I almost never hail another vessel. I have never hailed the coast guard. ONE time I was hailed by the coast guard. They asked a bunch of questions (how many people aboard, where we were headed, etc.). They thought my answers were OK and then left.

Barry
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
23,488 Posts
You only say break, if you are literally running two communications back to back. IOW, you finish your reply to one party and then begin to hail or reply to another, without stopping.

You never do a radio check on Ch16. Ever. Since so many do anyway, until the Coast Guard comes on and spanks them, I can't subscribe to the monkey see, monkey do approach to learning how to use the radio.

No doubt there is an automated radio check frequency, which is very helpful. I check every single time, prior to leaving the dock. For that you can say anything you like. I just say Radio Check. It picks it up and plays it back, so you can hear your own transmission quality.
 

·
Advanced beginner
Joined
·
465 Posts
Quick Chesapeake Guide for VHF radio for newbies, from a newbie.

1. Keep on Channel 16 while under way (to listen for alerts)
2. Channel 16: hailing marinas, hailing other boats, distress calls
3. Channel 13: hailing drawbridges (Annapolis, Kent Narrows, Knaps Narrows, etc)

Look up how to communicate in each circumstance. Type it all on a piece of paper and laminate it, keep it next to your radio.

If you go through bridges a lot, or stay frequently at marinas, get a handheld.

Important: for bridges you need to know what schedule they open, and you need to time your arrival accordingly. Circling in a busy channel waiting for a bridge opening is not much fun, and can be hazardous.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,094 Posts
No doubt there is an automated radio check frequency, which is very helpful. I check every single time, prior to leaving the dock. For that you can say anything you like. I just say Radio Check. It picks it up and plays it back, so you can hear your own transmission quality.
Well, at least as far as the Sea Tow automatic radio check goes, it seems to be a thing of the past: "The Sea Tow Automated Radio Check System is no longer available." Radio Checks | Sea Tow

I noticed the few times (C-19 related) that I tried to do a radio check last year that the usual Ch 27 did not work. I got worried about my radio or antenna but I guess this is the explanation.

Too bad, it was an extremely useful system. Maybe someone else can this pick up? (hello, BOATUS)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
223 Posts
Hey,

Go here:

I'm surprised by the variations in who uses what channel. Here in Charleston channel 13 is used by the working boats and harbor pilot, channel 9 is what the bridges use... The harbor pilot hails boats here fairly regularly just to make sure everybody stays out of the way of the container ships... It would be awfully embarrassing to be the guy who got the 5 earth shattering blasts from the ships horn....
 

·
Registered
2008 Jeanneau 39i S/V Grace
Joined
·
785 Posts
I used the Sea Tow radio check ch. 27 recently and it worked fine. This was in Sand Diego, then again on Catalina Island.
 

·
Master Mariner
Joined
·
8,998 Posts
Personally, I think brevity is very important. Too many ramble on, making things up as they go. Before you go on the radio, know EXACTLY what information you need to get across to the other vessel, then do so as briefly (though unhurriedly) as possible.
Sharing the channel in Charleston Harbor with 900+ foot container ships, all the pilot wanted to know is whether I was going to keep my 80' 3 masted schooner, full of passengers, the hell out of his way. No chit chat, no niceties, "just the facts, ma'am."
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,994 Posts
Ch 16 is basically used for emergency and channel 9 for hailing. If you scan,,, scan 9 and 16,,, 13 is used for bridge communication... marinas, launches etc. use channels 68 - 72 as working channels. Use the correct words for alphabet spelling... alpha, brave, charlie, delta, echo.....
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
7,561 Posts
Just remember, all the advice given here is extremely local specific.

Most countries there is no automated radio checks; there is no hailing on #9; port frequencies / bridge freqs are different

In some countries the locals use the VHF like a phone as they never had phones to connect the islands and they still use VHF to discuss the washing, shopping etc.

Some countries / areas, cruisers have their own frequencies, and radio nets.

Most countries the VHF is not policed by authorities.

:)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,994 Posts
Just remember, all the advice given here is extremely local specific.

Most countries there is no automated radio checks; there is no hailing on #9; port frequencies / bridge freqs are different

In some countries the locals use the VHF like a phone as they never had phones to connect the islands and they still use VHF to discuss the washing, shopping etc.

Some countries / areas, cruisers have their own frequencies, and radio nets.

Most countries the VHF is not policed by authorities.

:)
Very true... I think it's safe to assume that answers are about local practice of the poster. I do recall years ago in Antigua... the VHF was like a party line and people would jump on and off and make contacts and move to working channels... before the days of cell phones...

I believe the USCG requested that 16 be reserved for emergency communications in USA and designated 9 as the calling channel.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
72 Posts
So I am new to sailing, I can work a VHF radio, but i would love to find a book or article on when and what to say when i do. Any advice?
Since its VHF you can easily enough listen to, for example, someone hailing a marina and being asked to switch to 6-8 and then follow that conversation there yourself. The folks above have hit upon several of the typical jargon (with a couple exceptions) and you'll figure it out quickly.

emcenter hit on the big 3 above.

I've listened to fisherman out there just jabbering away in early mornings about what they did last weekend, how the family is, etc. I wanted to buy them a headset for their phone... but majority of the time the Bay is fairly respectful. You'll hear the USCG berate someone if they keep asking for radio checks on 16, and at least twice per year I hear someone sitting (I'm guessing) on the mic button so you get to hear a muffled boat conversation for 5 to 10 minutes between 2-6 people. That's always a hoot... :rolleyes:

Look forward to "seeing" you out there on the Bay in 2021!!!
 
1 - 20 of 64 Posts
Top