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VHF 101 Basics


If you have a marine you maintain watch on channel 16 whenever the radio is not being used to communicate.

If you need a radio check request it on a working Channel, IE 68 or 69. Not 16 Never use CB lingo (IE breaker 1, 9 Breaker 1, 9)

Keep communications short, a single word is easier to understand rather than a long sentence

The Term “Roger” means I understand your transmission.

“Wilco” means I understand your transmission and I will comply with your request.

* Never say Roger Wilco (the two words do not go together) Use Affirmative for Yes and Negative for no.

There is no such thing as over and out. It’s either one or the other. Over means I have completed my statement and I am awaiting your reply. Out means I have completed my communication and I am returning to the hailing channel (16)

Channel 9 and 16 are used for haling only. Once you have contacted a vessel be sure to move your conversation to a working channel.


Channel 22a is only to be used by the coast guard. Working Cannels. (Channels you can use) are 68. 69, 71, 72, 78a

The correct hailing procedure is to state one to three times in succession the name of the boat or station you are calling, followed once or twice by the name of your boat, then "Over." Any additional words are unnecessary and incorrect procedure. Once your party replies, you instruct him/her to switch to a working channel and clear out of channel 16. If you were requested to go to another channel (say 69) you would respond by saying “Your boat name” switching to 69, over.

Emergency Communication

Understand the difference between Mayday, Pan-Pan, and Security.

Mayday is a distress signal and should only be used if you or your crew is in Grave danger.

Pan Pan, Is for a serious situation that is not life threatening. If someone has a serious injury is an example, running aground is not.

Security is a safety signal. It is used to warn boaters of certain conditions in their area such as storm warnings and hazards to navigation.

All 3 signals need to be repeated 3 times when used, IE Mayday, Mayday Mayday

To place a Mayday call

Make sure you are on Channel 16.

Clearly say Mayday 3 times

Say this is _____________ (and repeat your boats name 3 times) Also give your boats registration number is well if possible.

Give you location (preferably your latitude or longitude in not a channel marker or well known landmark.

Finish the Mayday transmission by stating the nature of the emergence (i.e. sinking, fire etc.) and the number of people on board

Conclude with the word over and wait 10 seconds then repeat the call if there is no response.