Correct procedure is to request a check on 09, but everybody is on 16 so rarely get a response. In our area the CG Aux. at a nearby harbor monitors and does checks on 09 on the weekends. Usually someone will ask for a check on 16 so you can switch them to 09 & you both get your check.
While it will give you a general idea of whether you radio is broadcasting at all....it will not reveal if it is working properly.
VHF is line-of-sight and very power-related (Unlike HF, there is no atmospheric bounce).
So if you do a radio check and get another boat on the line, you still will not know if you are braodcasting to the full extent of your power, or if you have left your radio switched to 1amp (Usually for marina and fleet communication, sort of like an intercom) and the boat you have reached is within a mile somewhere. Even if you are sure the switch is on your full broadcasting power, a damaged cable, connector or ariel can reduce the efficiency dramatically and leave you in the same position.
Asking for a radio check on 16 allows shore stations and volunteerrescue organisations to indicate whether they recieve you (or are hidden behind promentories and other physical obstacles).
The international convention dictates that there be a courtesy period of two minutes at the stroke of each hour, during which time very faint or distant distress signals can be listened for. Other then that, using 16 as a routing channel is the norm.
If your area has a log-out, log-in service run by coastgaurd or volunteer operators, then you can combine your radio check with your declaration.
So you call on sixteen,
they respon and tell you which frequency they would like you to go to in order to continue.
You state "SV Drunken Parrot, heading out of Gerbil Cove for a day sail, Back around midnight"
They reply with, "Thank you Drunken Parrot, You are coming through loud and clear, Say hello as you come back in"
You know know your radio is working fine and also that if you are not back or in communication by dawn, they are going to start making the odd phone call. Melbourne radio has printed out and framed the Jesse Martin radio check, which reads something like "SV Lionheart, going for a bit of a sail, see you in about a year..."
He then circumnavigated, called up radio Melbourne just as he entered the heads and reported back in, To be told he was a day or two ahead of schedule, was the fishing bad?
Sorry, Sasha. In the U.S. the Coasties and Federal Communications Commission can fine people ($5000/per event I believe, which, even with the dollar in the pits, is still a considerable sum.) for using channel 16 as a "radio check". This rule is, of course, most frequently observed in its breach. We often hear the US Coast Guard Station at Lloyds Neck (Long Island Sound) reminding drunken sots that channel 16 is reserved entirely for emergency calls.
I''m pretty sure 16 is the hailing/emergency channel. If not, how would you ever contact anyone, since everyone is SUPPOSED to be monitoring 16? Hail and switch. Hail for radio check, "anyone", switch to another channel. Try again if no response. The CG will admonish people who don''t hail and immediately switch - they start having their conversation on 16. I''ve never heard them say anything to anyone hailing and immediately going elsewhere.
In Florida, and I assume other places, Tow BoatUS and SeaTow have started replying to radio checks in effort to help aleviate some of the the air traffic. When you hail for a radio check, either BUS or ST will respond and request a different channel to perform the check.
That said, it would be just as easy to hail BUS or ST on their respective opperating channels and never have to foul up the air waves on 16 with a radio check. Hail on their monitored working channel first, then on 16 only after receiving no response.
Yes, finally someone with some brains about the assinine radio checks. Everyone knows where ST and BUS hang out, but no, let''s clutter 16 with the idiotic radio check. In the Tampa Bay area, there must be at least 20 an hour on Saturday and 40 on Sunday. Relentless, useless conversation that drives many off watch on 16. Then, when a real problem arrives, you might be the closest to provide assistance, but you squelched the crap out of it so you didn''t have to listen to Breaker Breaker Radio Check.
I''ve boated on South Lake Michigan for many years. For a radio check use channel 9. If no reponse there then try 68 or 69 as there is plenty of traffic that will help you out. If you plan on hailing someone specifically while you''re out there let them know what channel you''ll be monitoring (09, 68, 69..) and contact them there. If you want to check your reach on the radio listen for a conversation that is weaker than others & hail one of the people when they finish talking. When they come back ask them where they are. It''s not unusual for me to pick up a conversation happening down by the state line (20-25ish miles) and get a return from them. Most often they''re more than happy to do a check with someone distant as they are getting a distance check also.