How to use VHF marine radio

How to use VHF marine radio

Hundreds of vessels
move in and out of ports, bays and waterways
around Australia each day like a symphony. The code that makes
this aquatic orchestra work so seamlessly is the
understanding of marine radio. Whether a sea kayak, runabout,
ferry or cruise liner, it’s only when everyone
understands and uses the right channels
and protocols that it can all work together. Welcome to ACMA TV, and today
we’re going to visit some of Sydney’s best
boating locations to hear from the experts
about marine radio. Even the best prepared boaters
can run into problems and that’s why it’s important
to not only have but know how to use
your VHF radio. That’s exactly right. Now, there are
two main types of marine radio for non-commercial vessels.
They are marine VHF and 27meg. VHF is now the predominant form
of communication on the water because the networks of base
and repeater stations available around Australia. VHF radios have much better
coverage, range, not to mention less interference
than the older 27meg radios. In every state in Australia there are dedicated teams
of marine rescue workers from volunteers to police. These teams work
around the clock to ensure the safety
of recreational boat owners and commercial vessels. We are here at one
of Australia’s oldest and most iconic signaling stations,
South Head, in Sydney. So Greg, how important is it
to use VHF radio when we’re out on the water? It’s very important to use VHF radio
when you’re out on the water. It’s for your safety. You should do a radio check
before you go out. You should listen for weather
and warnings. Priority warnings
are broadcast immediately, routine forecasts generally every
two hours for marine rescue. You should listen in case
there’s a call for help on VHF 16, and if you get into trouble
call for help on VHF channel 16. Earlier this year while
on a typical fishing expedition, Peter was called out when a strong
southerly wind picked up. Knowing this part
of the harbor well Peter decided it was best to find
a more sheltered spot to fish until the wind died down. When Peter’s normally trusty engine
suddenly stopped, he found himself drifting steadily
toward the rocks. Peter decides to call
for immediate assistance on VHF radio emergency
channel 16. Mayday, mayday, mayday. This is Pete’s Boat, Pete’s Boat,
Pete’s Boat. Mayday, Pete’s Boat. Inside North Head
at Old Man’s Hat about 100 metres from the rocks. Strong wind blowing me
towards the rocks. Engine has died
and won’t start. Two persons on board.
Five meter silver runabout. I need immediate help, over. At South Head one operator
takes down all the details while the other places a call
to the water police and the nearest rescue boat.
Marine Rescue radios back to Peter. Mayday Pete’s Boat,
Pete’s Boat, Pete’s Boat. This is Marine Rescue Port Jackson, Marine Rescue Port Jackson,
Marine Rescue Port Jackson, received mayday.
Confirming your position at Old Man’s Hat,
100 metres from the rocks and two people on board. Please make sure you have
the life jackets on and put out your anchor.
Rescue vessels are nearby and will be there
as soon as possible. Stay on this channel, over. Peter replies, still on
the emergency channel 16. Mayday, Marine Rescue this is
Pete’s Boat, Pete’s Boat. Position and persons on board correct,
I will put out the anchor, over. Marine Rescue Port Jackson, having now spotted the distressed
vessel through the binoculars to confirm the position puts out a call
to all nearby vessels. Mayday relay, mayday relay,
mayday relay, all ships near North Head,
all ships near North Head, this is Marine Rescue Port Jackson,
Marine Rescue Port Jackson. Mayday relay Pete’s Boat,
silver, five metre runabout is being blown toward the rocks
at Old Man’s Hat. Position south 33 degrees, 49.3,
east 151 degrees, 15.4. Two people on board. Any vessel able to assist please call
marine rescue Port Jackson on this channel
and advise your position and the assistance available,
over. Meanwhile the Water Police
and a Marine Rescue vessel have been dispatched
at high speed. Pete’s boat, this is Marine Rescue
Middle Harbour 3-0. We have received your mayday and are proceeding to your location
at all haste, out. So Greg, in short what is
correct operational procedure when it comes
to making an emergency call? The correct procedure for making
an emergency call is to change to channel 16,
call mayday, mayday, mayday, and the name of your vessel
three times, give your position,
describe the problem, how many people on board,
describe the vessel, local conditions and what
you’re planning to do. Leave your radio switched on
and tuned to channel 16. This is so you can hear and respond
to any distress calls. Always call on channel 16,
then switch to a working channel. Use channel 72, 73 or 77 to call
and work with other vessels. Use channel 73 to call
and work with a coast station, and when finished, resume listening
on channel 16. Remember your manners
and no swearing. Be accurate, brief and clear. Greg why is it important to have
good microphone technique? It is important to have
good microphone technique to convey your message clearly. Put your thumb on your cheek
and speak across the microphone with a steady rhythm
to avoid any distortion. Now, what are the things
you know to think about with your marine radio, things you can check
before you go out to sea? Okay, the three main things
that you want to check before you head out to sea. The first one will be the radio unit
itself and the handset. So obviously you want to make sure
it turns on, all your channels are lighting up
so you can highlight your channels. You also want to make sure, a lot of boats are exposed
to salt spray, things like that when they’re out
so they can corrode, they can get a little salt buildup,
things like that, so you want to make sure
when you’re finished for the day you clean it off so next time
it will be free of corrosion. Second one is your aerial.
You want to make sure that it’s actually attached
to your boat. People take them off for storage,
put them in garages, things like that, so make sure
your aerial is on, it’s attached, it’s elevated,
free of any obstruction. And the other thing
about aerials, they can become flaky
from UV, sun effects, things like that, salt, so you want to make sure
it’s not flaky or crumbly, it’s in good condition.
And lastly your battery. You want to make sure
that it’s fully charged because obviously the radio
is not going to work without a charged battery. Some people like to have
a separate battery bank purely for their radios
as an extra safety consideration. They believe that
if everything else fails, your electronics, that’s fine. You’ve got the extra battery
there purely for your radio for that emergency situation
if it arises. Thanks for watching ACMA TV. Now remember next time
you’re on the water, use your marine radio to log on
with local rescue services. And jump on the ACMA website
for your copy of the VHF handbook.

37 thoughts on “How to use VHF marine radio

  • June 20, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    go greeeeeeeeeeeggggggggggg , well done mate …. very true very important to have one and know how to use it from thomas

  • June 29, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    We found the video very helpful thank you…..

  • July 16, 2012 at 4:47 am

    We are currently reviewing qualification requirements for recreational boaters. In a recent survey we found that only 29% of VHF users have a certificate, so we considered it necessary to get correct information on radio use out there right now.

    We are also looking at a more appropriate qualification to be delivered. While the qualification question gets sorted we just wanted to give people the information they needed to use the radio correctly.

  • November 16, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    From the radio handbook: “It should be noted that no provision of this handbook, the International Radio

    Regulations, or the Radiocommunications Act 1992 prevents the use by a

    vessel in distress of any means at its disposal to attract attention, make known

    its position and obtain help.”

    This video concerns a simulated distress situation, so a MROCP or MROVCP is not required.

    It aims to help all to make an efficient and effective distress call.

  • November 16, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Why the need to produce an expensive video of this nature for VHF use?
    most of the video was done by volunteers to educate people on safe boating and marine radio use …well done to marine rescue port jackson and marine rescue middle harbour . and i believe that martime did it as educational .
    being in the world of boating and on the water . i beleive we ALL want everyone to be safe on the water … anything can happen at anytime and to anyone so being able to communicate is vital to lives .

  • November 17, 2012 at 11:44 am

    to 'piscat'. Even after doing the course there is NOTHING like a simulated situation to actually hear the procedure. The Marine Radio Operator Handbook for the MROCOP course can be very confusing …. to some of us. Maybe we're not all as brilliant as you, so go away.
    This is a fantastic production.

  • June 18, 2013 at 8:16 am

    Please correct me if I am wrong, but shouldn't this have been a pan pan call ?

  • June 19, 2013 at 9:56 am

    Well done Video!!

  • June 26, 2013 at 9:33 am

    Jez….i agree

  • September 12, 2013 at 10:34 am

    sea tow lol

  • April 3, 2014 at 3:28 am

    Great review, Thanks.

  • May 16, 2014 at 7:23 am

    that's a great job ,but its look like thecommunication of may day is to longer,
    maby be can miss same informations

  • June 4, 2014 at 10:15 am

    Hi, this may have been asked? BUT, I'm in Western Australia and I'm buying a boat and notice it has a VHF radio on board. My question is; "Do I need to have a VHF licence to operate it"?

  • October 14, 2014 at 2:18 am

    it was PAN-PAN situation not MAYDAY 😀

  • March 23, 2015 at 12:57 am

    1:20 I would love to have one of these for a Ham Shack 🙂

    Good Video 🙂  

    I listen to VHF Marine when I vacation in Nags Head, NC, USA and I am also a Licensed General Class Ham and I also listen to HF Marine Freqs. 

    I like that chart that was shown on what channels to use. 
    How would that chart apply to US Coastal areas like Virginia Beach, VA and Nags Head, NC? or is that just for use in Australia?
    Thank You and 73s de KD4ADV QTH Amelia County, VA, USA

  • June 5, 2015 at 10:23 am

    Very helpful, Thank you.

  • June 22, 2015 at 9:45 pm

    Aussie Aussie Aussie ; Only The BEST People are Boaters ;
    This is Cool knowledge ; Thanks for posting

  • December 31, 2015 at 11:20 pm

    Very good, clear and easy to understand, most helpful.

  • January 3, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    very good video

  • March 8, 2017 at 8:34 pm

    Why use 27.mhz.

  • March 8, 2017 at 8:39 pm

    Please qsy to vhf. Less interference from international dx

  • March 20, 2017 at 10:48 am

    Thanks for this vido ,it is really very important and practical

  • May 15, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    Great Video..Very clear operating procedures. Thanks for posting!

  • July 13, 2017 at 3:21 am

    Technically 27Mhz is HF. VHF is 30Mhz to 300Mhz!

  • July 20, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    What is the difference between VHF DSC and VHF radiotelephony ?

  • July 21, 2017 at 1:31 am


  • August 6, 2017 at 9:57 am

    life was not in immediate danger! This should have been a pan pan call!

  • January 27, 2018 at 7:53 pm

    The certificate; does it include real life excercises with radios? How its quaranteed users know their equpments well enough? Average boater will encounter emergency situations quite seldom and thus cannot maintain their vhf communication skills even if qualified (once).

    I am eager to learn how you handle this "problem". I was caught with this kind of incapacity last summer when received my first ever DSC call from MRCC (Turku Finland). Our fishing club is now planning additional teaching on equipment details and the nature of vhf trafic we may be dealing with in real life.

    Very nice video!

  • May 2, 2018 at 4:33 pm

    Can't understand a thing you're saying

  • May 22, 2018 at 4:41 am

    this is a PAN PAN not a MaYDAY and i was with Marine Rescue NSW

  • June 10, 2018 at 12:41 am

    Eu tenho um radio uniden vhf
    e muito bom

  • February 13, 2019 at 2:48 pm

    Isnt mayday for life danger and pan pan for emergency i dont think he was in life danger hahahaha

  • March 27, 2019 at 12:52 am

    Whats with the shit music?

  • June 3, 2019 at 8:47 pm

    I like how Aussie dude seriously emphasized "NO SWEARING!"!!!!! Good vid, though!

  • August 6, 2019 at 3:50 pm

    Drifting towards rocks I would have expected him to put out the anchor as soon as the engine died (or wouldn't start) before reaching for the VHF. That "thumb on the cheek" when holding the mike taught me something. I'll pass it on. Thanks.

  • August 11, 2019 at 8:21 pm

    Yes a very good demonstration, but I agree with Glyn Bain about putting out an anchor first before calling out a mayday. I also feel the owner of the boat should have had an emergency
    back up outboard on the transom.

  • September 7, 2019 at 12:03 am

    I carry a 5 watt vhf handheld in my tinnie and always have it switched on to ch16. Been using radios since a kid but probably should get my ticket. Atleast i carry the radio and a 5 watt UHF aswell


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