Top 60 Boating Tips by Boating Magazine

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Everyone knows how to use their VHF marine radio. Right? Okay, how do you reach a bridge tender by radio to request passage? No, calling him on Channel 16 won't help. Neither will calling him any of a number of bad names. The only way to reach a bridge tender, other than horn signals, is on Channel 13.

Now, what is the correct way to request assistance? Call Mayday? or Mae West? No, the call depends on the urgency and nature of assistance needed.True emergencies call for the use of MAYDAY. Urgent matters not directly hazardous to life or property need PAN PAN. And even lesser advisories use SECURITY. You need to acquaint yourselves of the proper procedures now; when an emergency happens, it's too late.

Suppose you're disabled. Who is going to make that emergency call for you? Better take the time now to instruct the entire crew on proper radio procedure.

How about that FCC license, the one you were always going to send for? Better get your application in, and keep the temporary license on board. If you are caught transmitting on your VHF radio without a license, the fines are HUGE! The license fees have increased, but a license is now valid for 10 years from the date of issue. But, remember, the license is valid ONLY for the boat to which it is issued, and if you sell the boat, you need a new license.

Which brings up another point. When making application for an FCC license, you need to request licensing for all electronic transmitting equipment you now have on board, or reasonably expect to have during the licensing period. This includes your main VHF, handhelds, radar, single sideband marine radio, satellite communications, EPIRB, etc. The standard license covers one VHF radio and a 121.5/243.0 mhz EPIRB, but not the 406 mhz units, so be sure to add whatever you need.

And now you can make application on line at You'll need to register and then you can use the Universal Licensing Syatem. You can even pay for your license and do your renewals on line!

Safe Boating!

1 comment:

Laura said...

This is very informative! Thank you for posting and I'm sure this will be of great help to many.