9 Basics of VHF Marine Radio| Know VHF Channels

VHF Marine Radio is a radio system used by boats and ships to communicate with each other. It’s also known as “VHF” or “marine band”. The basics of VHF are important for anyone who wants to know more about the marine radio. This article will cover 7 basics of VHF Marine Radio that you need to know before using your VHF Marine Radio.You’ll be able to use this information in order to understand how the system works and when you might want to use it. Armed with these basics, you’ll be able to make better decisions about your safety on the water!So, let’s start one by one.

What is a “Marine VHF Radio”?

A marine VHF radio (or simply “VHF”) is a type of two-way radio that operates in the very high frequency (VHF) range, from 156 to 174 MHz. It provides short-range communications with other boats and ships within about 5 miles. The radios are typically mounted on the boat’s deck or cabin roof. It can also be handheld or installed inside the vessel.Marine VHF radios are used by boaters for communicating with each other when they are out at sea. This includes safety messages such as distress calls and may include contact information for emergency services. They’re also used to communicate with harbours, marinas, bridges. This means you’ll always have someone who can hear your message if you need help!

Why VHF radio important in a boat?

Nowadays, sea fishing, kayaking and boating are becoming quite popular. The mobile network system does not frequently function In the wide sea ‍area. So, you are literally in the middle of nowhere in the sea area with no conversation with anyone.People often stay long in the distant sea with Fishing Kayak for desired fishing, making you think about your safety. So, the VHF radio is there to ensure there is help when you are in any risk or need of any help.It will communicate with other boats around or the Coast Guards to save you from any trouble.

9 Basics of VHF Marine Radio

If you are working in a boat or ship then you must have these basics. It is not possible to say when an accident or help is needed. The basics of several VHF marine radios are discussed below.


The first thing is licensing. It means that you should have a valid radio operator’s license issued by the government.Without an amateur radio license, there is no way that you can operate any radios on board your vessel. Moreover, you must take required classes before sitting for the exam.You can get a copy of the license form any maritime or marine hobby shop.

VHF Marine Radio Channels

The 2nd important thing is the Marine VHF Channels. For a large boat, the channels you will need are Channel 9(all vessels at sea) and channel 16(for emergency calls). For a small boat or dinghy, Channel 22 is very handy, but it cannot be used as an emergency channel on the large vessels.Boater Calling Channel: The channel 9 is the best choice for calling boats. You do not need a license to use it. However, you should know that this channel is heavily used by other users as well. Your signal will not always be heard or received. Moreover, there are many restrictions on using this channel.Use Channel 16 in an emergency: Channel 16 is for emergencies only. Do not use it casually. You can use this channel if your vessel is sinking and you want to hail nearby boats for help. Now you can understand how important it is.

Operating procedures

It is also important to know how to operate the radio. This is about both sending and receiving a message.

  • Sending: To send a message, you need to press the microphone ‘Transmit’ button. The transmitter will emit an audible beep to confirm that the button has been pressed correctly.
  • Receiving: When you hear a message, you must ensure that the microphone is switched on. If not, turn it ON by ‘Transmit’ button. You can also verify this if your transmit light has come on.


This is another basics of VHF Marine Radio. You must know how to receive and send a radio message. In this regard, you can take a course.You should have done one before you plan to buy your own VHF Marine Radio. It is necessary because you will have to take a test. Then you have to pass it before getting your license.There are many ways to do the course. But you have to decide who is doing the course. Of course, take the course from a qualified person. Hopefully after completing the course you will know how to manage everything. This is how you can know in details about it.

Radio Protocol and Etiquette

You must also know about radio protocol and etiquette if you want to be a good operator.

  • Protocol: Protocol means the exchange of information or the way parties interact. In this regard, both sending and receiving information must be done in a proper manner.
  • Etiquette: It means the rules of correct communication. When sending radio signals, you must pay attention to the following: (a)Your voice must be audible. (b) Your signal must be clear and understandable.

What do you do if you hear a distress call?

This is another important thing to know. If you get a distress call, follow these steps:

  • Stay on the channel and stand by.
  • Assess the situation and ask for additional details if necessary. Do not do any risky maneuver or movement.
  • Take immediate action to help the distressed vessel.

Digital Selective Calling (DSC)

Finally, you should know about DSC. This is a digital technology. It allows your radio to send and receive emergency distress signals over VHF marine radio channels.The advantage of DSC is that they are both faster and easier to use as compared with voice calls. Moreover , they can also identify the location of any vessel that has sent an emergency message.

Final word

A VHF marine radio is an essential device for maritime communication when you are at the ocean for a voyage, whether boating, kayaking, or fishing.It allows the captain to communicate with other boats, coast guard stations, and harbormasters. So it is very important to know every ship or boat professionals. In this content, i have already added 7 basics of VHF Marine Radio. This is enough.If you have more questions then feel free to know us via email or comment below the post.Thanks for your attention.

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